Finding the right candidate to fill your open vacancy is not an easy task. You of course want someone that has the skills and knowledge to capably fulfill the duties of the role, but you also want someone well matched in terms of personality - someone likely to form an attachment to their work, their colleagues, and to you as their employer.
In other words, you want a skilled professional that is likely to experience a high level of job embeddedness.
To achieve this you need to hire for job fit. Applicants must be assessed on their qualifications, work background and skill set, but also on values, behaviors and working preferences.
In this article, we take a closer look at job embeddedness. We’ll cover its definition and benefits before discussing recruitment techniques to help you hire for job fit and find those with the potential to become truly invested in their employment.
Why job embeddedness matters
Job embeddedness is exactly what it sounds like. It is the extent to which an employee feels embedded in their work. It was introduced as a theory in 2001, and is used to explain why certain individuals choose to stick with their employer.
The theory points to three contributing factors that affect the level of job embeddedness an employee is likely to feel:
Fit - this relates to how well their work matches their personal values and goals.
Links - this refers to the emotional ties they form with coworkers, and the work-related activities they become involved in.
Sacrifice - this is about what they would be giving up if they chose to leave their job, and the disruption it would cause.
When these three elements combine in the ideal - i.e. the fit is strong, the links are strong, and the sacrifices are many - true job embeddedness is achieved.
Job embeddedness matters because it improves employee retention. The critical elements referred to - fit, links and sacrifice - are seen as a collection of forces that prevent an individual from seeking new employment.
This is of course a huge benefit to you as an employer, reducing the costs and disruption associated with high staff turnover.
It also brings a number of associated benefits for employer and employee alike:
Strong organizational commitment - not only are staff less inclined to leave, they’re also more likely to show a higher level of commitment, turning up on time, not feigning illness and demonstrating productive work behaviors.
Increased job satisfaction - from an employee perspective, they find a greater sense of fulfillment in their work and subsequently a greater sense of happiness in life.
A positive team environment - a core part of job embeddedness is the connection an employee forms with those they work with. When these connections are strong it promotes a sense of teamwork, high staff morale and greater collaboration.
Improved employee wellbeing - employees that feel a high level of job embeddedness typically feel comfortable being their true self at work. This sense of fitting in without having to hide who they are significantly contributes to their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Measuring for fit when hiring
So now we better understand job embeddedness and its benefits, how do you go about encouraging it? The first step is to make sure the job you’re offering is well matched to the candidate you appoint by hiring for job fit.
This requires a holistic approach to recruitment. You need to look at each applicant as a whole - evaluating the skills, knowledge and experience they bring along with their personality and core motivations. Consider the points below when building your strategy.
Understand the job in question
Basing your recruitment efforts on a generic job description will not help you hire for job fit. To understand the type of candidate well suited to the post you have to fully understand the post itself.
Think about what a typical day would involve, the people they’d be working with and the environment they’d be working in. Try speaking to existing staff in similar positions for their perspective.
When looking to promote job embeddedness you should also consider your workplace culture since the theory heavily relies on an employee feeling a sense of belonging.
Use objective shortlisting techniques
No matter the measures taken to avoid it, it’s difficult to completely eliminate interviewer bias from the recruitment process. This is particularly true when considering a candidate’s personality. They may be someone the interviewer connects with strongly but that doesn’t mean they have the right skill set for the job.
Uncover a candidate’s motivations
By testing for essential skills, you narrow down your applicant pool to those most capable of doing the job. You now need to narrow it down even further to those most likely to experience a high level of job embeddedness.
For this, you can use an assessment like the Drives test. Inspired by Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model, the Drives test assesses an individual’s working preferences by looking at what motivates them.
There are nine of these motivations put forward in the test:
The candidate is given 20 points to award across them. The more driven they are by a particular motivation the more points they award to it.
By comparing a candidate’s Drives test results with what your job has to offer, you can better determine job fit.
Be specific with interview questions
Another benefit of the Drives test is that it gives you a basis for candidate-specific interviews. Instead of relying on a generic set of pre-prepared questions, you can follow up on an individual’s test results.
For example, if they listed ‘Team’ as their biggest drive, you can quiz them more on what team actually means to them and their preferred role within a team setting. This kind of questioning, combined with well-structured behavioral questions, will give you deeper insight into job fit.
Drives alignment and job embeddedness
Assessing drives as part of recruitment is one of the most effective ways to promote long-term job embeddedness. When an applicant’s drives align with the nature of the role they’ll be taking on, they’re more likely to feel like they belong - not just in the job itself but also in the teams they work with and the organization they work for.
In fact, our own study on Person-Job Fit found that employees are five times more likely to feel like they fit at their workplace when their drives align with what their job offers.
The Drives test is a practical and insightful way to learn more about what motivates a candidate and helps to identify those with the greatest potential for commitment and longevity.