Why Employee Engagement Starts at Recruiting
Business Development & Partnerships
4 min read
14 August 2021
Employees who feel included and engaged in their company's work are more productive. That's the key finding from multiple business surveys, from a report by Indian professor of management Dr Chandra Sekhar Patro to a survey by Bain & Company. Increasingly, however, corporate success is not only seen in terms of income. Companies who get their employees engaged will also boost staff retention, workforce well-being, efficiency, and employer brand.
By contrast, a lack of engagement among employees can also hurt businesses, says Tim Eisenhauer, author, developer, and co-founder of Axero Solutions. "People who don't feel connected to their work have little reason to stick around." And the risk of low engagement isn't just about the hassle of replacing lost team members, it can cost serious money. In its 2021 government sector survey, Deloitte estimated that employee disengagement is costing US federal agencies $65 billion every year. Those factors (positive and negative) represent a huge incentive for leadership teams. The surprise is not that companies are investing in engagement and inclusion—they are—but that they're not embedding it from the start in their recruitment processes.
Companies worldwide are expanding their efforts in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for a range of reasons. Yes, there are financial incentives. Equally, though, there are social justice-related reasons driving DEI uptake. Over the last two or three years, the western news agenda has been dominated by large-scale popular movements pushing for greater equality for historically under-represented groups. The Black Lives Matter movement and the #MeToo movement have illustrated a widespread appetite for reducing discrimination and increasing equity in society, entertainment, and business. Employees want to bring their creativity and hard work to ethical companies and they will gravitate toward firms with that reputation. Forbes magazine wraps things up succinctly; in a recent article entitled "Three Trends HR Professionals Should Have on Their Radars in 2021," it notes, "Employee engagement is more important than ever."
Businesses attuned to this cultural shift have responded in various ways to make themselves more attractive to top talents. More companies are clarifying their mission—to explain how employee's contributions align with larger goals. Large firms, especially in the US and European IT sectors, are flattening their corporate structures to create less hierarchy and more autonomy over decision-making at lower levels. Some managers are encouraged to act as coaches rather than bosses, according to Gallup. And firms are expanding their DEI practices, say Deloitte researchers, from "recruitment practices that target minority groups" toward rethinking their entire diversity approachg.
While most established businesses are investing in engagement and inclusion as part of their full-time employees' offering, the most forward-thinking firms are embedding these ideas into their hiring. "A recruitment strategy that brings more engaged employees onto your team will improve your entire department's performance, reducing attrition, increasing productivity, and helping keep your star performers working at their best," says recruitment process outsourcing specialist greenbean. It's important to note that initiatives to increase inclusiveness must be supported throughout the organization, or it will lead to disengagement. A McKinsey article told the story of a North American energy company that introduced inclusive policies without subsequent support from senior leaders. The result? "Minority-group employees viewed inclusion systems as just an empty ticking-the-box exercise."
Inclusion in recruitment starts at the first point of contact, not day one in the office. To bolster DEI, many companies can improve in two areas. The first is about getting people who are well-suited for their jobs; it's about a cultural fit to find folks that will be engaged, believe in the mission, work hard, and be both fulfilled and productive. In job postings, describe the company culture and work environment accurately—that way, HR will attract people who feel like they belong. The second area is in making sure that candidates feel seen, heard, and respected; they're not just numbered applicants. Keep the hiring process moving briskly; make sure every candidate knows what's expected of them and where they are in the process; and communicate promptly and clearly.
One key method in increasing employee engagement in recruitment is to leverage not just your HR staff, but your whole team. With their professional networks and deep knowledge of your working culture, they're simultaneously a source of new recruits and great advocates for your company. CareerLunch provides companies with a reliable platform to foster inclusion and employee engagement: it gives internal professionals an opportunity to help shape company hiring, it offers jobseekers a chance to represent themselves as solid candidates, and it enables companies to get the right people on board. Built around informal meetings between jobseekers and established professionals, CareerLunch offers an authentic way to build working relationships. So by the time a position becomes available, the company already knows not only what's on a jobseeker's CV, but also what she's like, what she's looking for, and that she'll be a great cultural fit.