At the local market this morning I rounded a corner and witnessed the most astounding sight: a young mother on the business end of a grocery trip, accompanied by three boys under the age of five.

It took a nanosecond to sum up the chaos: while mommy was speaking to a clerk a short distance away, the 4 year old was methodically loading up the basket with jars of jam. In the spirit of cooperation, his younger brother (about 2 and a half I think, seated in the basket and clearly enjoying the game) was liberating the jars by dropping them back out of the cart and onto the floor below. The baby watched in glee as the jars bounced, crashed, and generally made a really delicious mess.

After the crashing began it didn't take long for mommy to restore order, and the clerk went about cleaning up as if it happens all the time (which it probably does). So what does this have to do with recruiting?

Engagement is the art and science of being absorbed in what you do -- happily, passionately, and completely. It happens at that moment when you forget everything else and lose yourself in the task at hand: quite literally being fully present in the here and now. For employers, it is the magic that drives competitive and economic advantage. For job seekers and employees, it is the fuel of ongoing commitment - to the team, to the job, to the company.

But what is the DNA of engagement? What are it's most basic, combustible elements that, when combined, create passion, commitment, and competitive advantage? I love my job -- and the experience for me is tied to more than what I get to do every day (although that's definitely part of the equation). Equally important are the people I'm doing it with or for, and how I expect the end result will add value in the big picture. In this context engagement is about inspiration and leadership as much as it is about tactical execution.

Don't you love those moments when you relish your job the way those boys did moving around jars of jam? And isn't it amazing that as recruiters we get to be traffic cops at the interection of people and companies searching for the spark?

Yep, I definitely love what I do.


In my day job, I’m the head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage engagement for competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.

Views: 100

Comment by Amitai Givertz on May 3, 2008 at 1:26pm
Claudia, great post but you've left me confused.

By your definition the children seemed to be completely engaged but were not focused on the actual mission, were they? In fact they were creating more work for manager-mommy. The only payoff for the 'engagement' here was the boys personal -- and one imagines shortlived -- gratification.

At some point 'engagement' has to be managed through corporate messaging, coaching, reinforcement training, performance management, incentives and rewards, personal nurturing and all that 'this-ain't-Google-Johnny' stuff.

Also, are you suggesting that you have to love your job to be 'engaged.' If that's true at any point in time employers could only expect a minority of workers to be engaged.

Your DNA argument is compelling. I'm buying it but keeping the receipt.

Also, I read 'Engagement' & Recruitment this morning. It gave me pause for thought.

And, Claudia, this is just for you, you know, to your DNA theory of engagement and the payoff...
Comment by Amitai Givertz on May 3, 2008 at 1:31pm
Hmmm.... I re-read the post and have torn the receipt up. You addressed my questions toward the end. I guess I wasn't properly 'engaged.' :-)
Comment by Claudia Faust on May 3, 2008 at 2:51pm
Hey Ami! I'm delighted that you threw away the receipt, but would still love to comment on your thoughts.

It might be a misconception to think of engagement as a static state -- from my perspective it is one of the most fluid elements between employers and employees, which is why it is so elusive and so many resources are spent trying to find and keep it. You're right to say that everyone has some accountability in getting there (and I've addressed more of these thoughts here); I don't believe that employers are tasked with "engaging" employees to any greater extent than individuals are tasked with clarity about work engagement.

I do think that clarity is key; employers with clear brand propositions stand a better chance of successful matchmaking than those without a conscious clue. And job seekers with clear requirements for what constitutes an excellent employer match also have the same advantage.

As for those little boys? There's no doubt that were engaged in what they were doing -- so was the mom in her conversation with the clerk. But I see enjoyment as a by-product of the moment, and not the engagement itself (even though they are highly interconnected). Engagement is also not just personal gratification, which may or may not result. In and of itself, engagement is one of those demonstrations of commitment I was talking about here and here.

I believe that as we get better at understanding the DNA of engagement, we set get that much better at measuring and improving it -- both for ourselves and for our talent pool. What do you think?
Comment by Amitai Givertz on May 3, 2008 at 3:11pm
Claudia - your first link...

>>> and I've addressed more of these thoughts here

is broken.

I guess it easier to agree with everything you say if we drop the DNA bit. That implies that somehow we are wired with what it takes to be engaged, predisposed to it. I see now we agree that is not the case. Or am I missing something?
Comment by Claudia Faust on May 3, 2008 at 3:18pm
Not at all, and now that you mention the connotation I better understand your concern. Makes sense -- maybe it's better to call it "ingredients" than DNA, although I still wonder if you can take the elements to an ever more granular level. Just the way my crazy brain works.

Broken link goes to:
Comment by Amitai Givertz on May 3, 2008 at 3:31pm
Hmmm...How about the "'Nature' of Engagement?" Not quite the same is it?
Comment by Claudia Faust on May 3, 2008 at 4:04pm
Actually, check out here for the broken link above...


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