Best Way to Get an Engaged Employee

Shawnee Love   •   July 7, 2018

I’ve put out a lot of blog content on how to create engaged employees over the years.  You’ve heard me espouse on paying fairly, providing flexible schedules, enhancing managerial skills, and offering development opportunities among other initiatives which contribute to an engaged workforce.  Frankly, those things are important, so please continue.

However, it occurs to me that in all my recommendations, I may have forgotten to point out the most important step in obtaining engaged employees….

Hiring Them

The truth is, some people are just more likely to be engaged employees than others.  They are born that way.  If you find those people, all things being equal, they will always be more engaged than people who lack the same traits.

According to the Five Factor Model of Personality research, there are a couple traits which correlate closely to engagement (also known as the employee’s emotional commitment to the organization and it’s goals).  These are:

  1. Conscientiousness: People high in conscientiousness will be aware of their actions and the consequences on others which translates to dedication, a willingness to work hard and persevere, goal orientation and ambition among other desirable behaviours.
  2. Emotional Stability:  People who are emotionally stable are able to remain calm, focused and resilient when work lemons come their way.

Those high in conscientiousness and emotional stability are predisposed to working hard, finishing what they start, and handling what life throws at them, which makes them more likely to achieve what is asked of them and what they commit to, i.e., high employee engagement

So how do you identify those people with high potential for engagement during your recruitment process?

You could use a personality test to suss them out (e.g., the NEO Inventory).  You could also ask questions which dig into those areas such as:


  • What does it mean to you to “take responsibility” at work?
  • How do you organize yourself?
  • Give an example of a time you were able to overcome obstacles to complete.
  • If there is something you want to accomplish, how do you go about achieving it?
  • Please finish this sentence: “I find it difficult to work when…”

Emotional Stability

  • What does it take to stress you out?
  • When your boss has criticism of your work, how would you like to receive it?
  • What do you do to relax?
  • What irritates you at work?
  • What worries you?
  • What frustrates you?
  • Give an example of a challenging situation which you were able to handle.

You don’t need to ask every single question to get a sense of how conscientious or emotionally stable a person is.  And frankly, even great answers on every question doesn’t guarantee an engaged employee.  But at least you are getting a better picture of your candidates and whether they have what it takes to become engaged, all other things being equal.