You Can’t Forcefully Increase Employee Engagement (BONUS: 3 Interview Questions Included)

Employee engagement strategies are one way that I’ve built my business and career. It’s also one of the topics that I regularly keynote speak about.

My three core focuses are employee engagement, customer experience and company culture strategies to grow a business. Like, actually grow a business. None of this “nice to have” stuff.

But, guess what…

I’m going to suggest something that may contradict what you think my beliefs are in growing a successful business. Please know that our company has nearly 200 employees so I’ve seen this firsthand.

How to Identify and Hire Engaged Employees

Okay, here’s my suggestion…

If you want high employee engagement, you can’t hire employees and expect to launch initiatives or strategies to increase their engagement. 

Instead, you must hire engaged professionals and maintain their motivation throughout their tenure with your company.

In other words, you need to find people who are naturally engaged in nearly everything that they do in their professional and personal lives.

You see, some people are natural self-starters. It appears that they excel in everything that they commit to whether they are experienced in the topic or not. These same professionals apply and teach themselves to get better.

How To Maintain Employee Engagement

One of our core values as a company is “ownership.” We want all our team members to take ownership of the guest experience and their professional development. This helps us maintain high employee engagement.

Take Melissa Smilie as an example. 

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Michel Falcon and Melissa Smilie, a People-First Culture hire.

Melissa joined our company as a server at one of our venues and today she is a key member of our marketing team. When I first met Melissa, when she was a part of our serving team, she said her goal was to pursue a career in marketing within our company. My business partner Brandon and I made a note of this and when an opportunity opened up, Melissa applied for the position and won us over.

But, Melissa didn’t simply get awarded the position because she showed interest and was already working for us. She earned it because I could see that while she was serving she was also investing time and energy into sharpening her marketing knowledge. Even today, after securing the position, she continues to invest in her education by reading marketing articles and listening to podcasts.

You see, I don’t need to increase her employee engagement. She is already engaged! My responsibility is to maintain it. I do this by frequently forwarding her interesting marketing knowledge that I read and touching base with her regularly to ensure that she has everything she needs to succeed.

Another one of our core values as a company is “foresight.” I need to have the foresight to continuously touch base with Melissa to measure her levels of engagement. I’m not going to suggest that Melissa will never become disengaged but I’m confident that I will know before it impacts her and our company.

Warning Signs of A Disengaged Employee

Some warning signs of employees who are beginning to become disengaged are:

  • Their participation in meetings
  • Their quality of work
  • Their response times to emails
  • Their temperament 
  • Their adherence to schedule and timelines

On the other hand, there are individuals who can have their employee engagement experience ebbs and flows. For example, if you manage a sales team, you can run sales contests and experience high levels of employee engagement because the team wants to win the prize.

But, what happens when the contest is over?

It’s likely that some individuals on your sales team will continue with high engagement (these are the Melissa’s of your organization) but it’s equally as likely that some, maybe most, of your team will experience a dip in their engagement.

Prizes, incentives, and contests can only increase employee engagement for short periods of time.

If you want to find professionals who naturally have high employee engagement, I would recommend evaluating your interview process. It’s likely that you’re not spending enough time probing for this habit.

The Interview Process

In our interview process, I like to probe for it during the phone interview (a time when we ask a handful of questions), culture and skillset interviews. 

These are three different interviews in our People-First Culture interview pyramid. Below is an image of our entire process that has helped us experience an employee retention rate 2.5x higher than the hospitality industry average.

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People First Culture Proven Hiring Strategy

By probing for it regularly, throughout the interview process, it’s very likely you’ll be able to understand if this individual will have high employee engagement because it’s hard to fake it over three consecutive interviews.

Ask interview questions not only related to their career but their personal lives too. Here are a few questions I like to ask to probe for potential high employee engagement:

  • In regards to the role you have applied for, what is going to motivate you to bring your whole self to work every day?
  • How did your last manager or coach motivate you best?
  • Can you tell me of a time in your personal life when you started something that was foreign to you which became a skill set you’re using today? 

These are a snapshot of questions I like to ask while probing for potential employee engagement with the candidate.

I’ve spoken to a countless amount of entrepreneurs and professionals, just like you. A common theme that I’m hearing is that they are trying to figure out their employee behaviours and motivations. 

As we bring 2019 to a close, now is a perfect time to reevaluate our approach to employee engagement.

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.