December 3, 2014

4 Warning Signs an Eager Candidate May Make a Disengaged Employee

OverworkedWith just 13 percent of the workforce considered to be truly engaged, according to Gallup, global worker disengagement levels are at an all-time low. This makes recruiting especially challenging: no matter how keen and positive the candidate before you may seem, there is a 63 percent chance they are/were disengaged in their last job and a 24 percent chance they are/were actively disengaged in their last job — that is, a poor contributor and a negative influence.

No doubt, many candidates are looking for a company and role where they can be engaged. But how can you be sure that this eager candidate won’t simply (after a honeymoon period) slot back into the ranks of the disengaged in your business? How, can you be sure they will bring a net improvement to your company’s engagement levels?

The truth is that you can never be totally sure about a candidate — selection processes are not foolproof. Still, I believe that eager candidates sitting before you may exhibit a few warning signs that they’ll become disengaged — rather than highly motivated — in the long term.

1. Too Focused on Money

There is nothing wrong with being focused on money, but being too focused on money at the expense of other job factors is a sign that a candidate has not properly evaluated the benefits of the job and the business. This financial tunnel vision means they may have overlooked negative aspects of the job which may lead to disengagement a few months down the line.

2. Haven’t Identified Non-Financial Job Motivators

Research from the Ivey Busines Journal shows that non-financial rewards — such as having a sense of choice, progress, competence, and/or meaningfulness in one’s job — are just as important as money when it comes to staff motivation. The research shows that highly engaged employees experience these non-financial rewards most intensely, and the least engaged employees experience these non-financial rewards least intensely. Keen candidates who cannot describe the key non-financial job motivators are at real risk of becoming disengaged employees.

3. Not Clear on Why This Job Is More Suitable Than the Last 

If the candidate is/was disengaged in their current/former role, you will want to know how this new job will meet their motivational requirements in the way the current/former job didn’t. If the old job lacked a sense of purpose, a candidate would need to be able to show how the new job provided a much better sense of purpose. If they can’t do this, the chances of them becoming disengaged again following the honeymoon period are high.

4. Hasn’t Explored the Relationship Compatibility with the Line Manager

Research tells us that bad relationships with managers are one of the main reasons that employees leave companies. The line manager relationship is thought to be one of the strongest influences on employee engagement levels. Candidates who don’t spend any time inquiring about their working relationship compatibility with their future line manager could be blindly walking into an unsuitable working relationship, which could increase the chance of disengagement.

Read more in Employee Engagement

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.