When we talk about job involvement we refer to a psychological connection between an employee and their work. Those that experience job involvement to a high degree find meaning in their employment and see their role as a fundamental part of their identity. This can be highly beneficial to both the employee in question and the organization they work for.
To promote job involvement, employers must focus on job fit. This involves matching a candidate to a role based on how well it aligns with their values, behaviors and motivations. Skills and knowledge are of course still crucial, but a more holistic approach to recruitment is required when looking to hire candidates that personally identify with a role.
In this article, we explore job involvement in more detail, why it's important and how to encourage it by successfully hiring for job fit.
Why job involvement matters
To revisit our definition, job involvement occurs when an employee feels a sense of identification with their work that is rooted in psychology. This can happen when that work aligns with their psychological needs, for example - the need to feel a sense of achievement, the need for recognition and reward, or the need for growth. The more a job fulfills the psychological needs of the employee, the more involved they are likely to become.
It matters because job involvement has been linked to several benefits from both the employee and employer perspective.
For the employee, it contributes significantly to job satisfaction. They find value in their work and are subsequently more invested in it. They report higher levels of wellbeing and also feel a harmony between their personal and professional lives, since the two are built on the same core values.
For the employer, there are multiple benefits that stem from job involvement:
Increased organizational commitment - employees that experience high job involvement are unlikely to exhibit withdrawal behaviors at work such as lateness and absenteeism, and because all their psychological needs are fulfilled they have little reason to seek new employment.
A competitive advantage - when employees are truly invested in their work, they are subsequently more productive and take pride in achieving their goals. Job involvement also sparks innovation, since the workforce has a vested interest in the success of the business.
A healthy work environment - a job that is part of an individual’s personal identity is rarely a chore. It’s something they are happy to do, and because of that they bring a positive attitude to the workplace, contributing to a healthy work environment.
Ultimately, by encouraging job involvement employers can retain top talent, gain a competitive advantage and achieve workplace and employee wellbeing. To do that, they must understand the contributing factors. There are two angles to consider here.
The first is the makeup of an organization and its culture. Managerial styles that allow autonomy and employee input, ongoing training and open communication are all conducive to job involvement.
The second angle is the hiring process itself. The biggest contributing factor for job involvement is an ideal match between job design and candidate personality. It’s at the hiring stage employers should assess an applicant’s goals, values and needs to determine how closely the role matches their sense of identity, which they can do by measuring for job fit.
Measuring for job fit when hiring
The first step in measuring for job fit is to fully understand what the available role has to offer the successful candidate. Will they be part of a close-knit team or work as an individual? Will they be closely managed or have a level of freedom? What is the scope for professional development and career progression?
Once you understand the nature of the job, you can start shortlisting candidates that are a good match.
Measure for ability
Skills, knowledge and experience are all integral to sourcing talent, and hiring for job fit does not exclude them. The ideal candidate will of course have the ability to perform the tasks associated with the role, and to do so to a high standard.
It’s advisable to use skills and cognitive ability tests as screening tools here. These are easily administered to a large group of applicants and help you quickly identify those that do indeed have the skills you deem essential.
Measure for drives
Ability is just one part of the picture. Once you’ve narrowed down your applicant pool to those with the required skills, you then need to identify those with the potential to excel - i.e. candidate’s whose motivations match what the job has to offer.
You can use an assessment like the Drives test here.
This short exercise asks an applicant to award points across nine motivating influences, or drives, including responsibility, innovation and purpose. The concept is simple - the more points given to a particular drive the more important it is, and thus the more it needs to form part of the job role for the candidate to identify with their work.
With this information at hand, along with a well-thought-out job description, you can decide which of the skilled applicants will be most fulfilled by the role on offer, and so more successful in it.
Test results also provide a reference for follow-up questions during interviews. By tailoring questions to a candidate’s specific motivations you can explore job fit on a deeper level with the most promising talent in your applicant pool.
Drives alignment and job involvement
Understanding what drives someone is key to finding employees that are likely to feel a high sense of job involvement. If a candidate’s motivations are not aligned with the nature of the role, there’s little chance of that role meeting their psychological needs or becoming a part of their sense of self.
On the other hand, if the two are well-matched there’s great potential for job involvement to develop. In fact, our own study on Person-Job Fit shows that when an employee’s Drives align with what their job offers, they’re 4.8x more likely to feel like their work is a part of their identity.
You can ensure that alignment by using the Drives test, and make well-informed hires based on job fit to increase job involvement.