How to Kill Employee Engagement

Onengagemente of the biggest killers of Employee Engagement, for me, is the limiting of  peoples growth and opportunities. I have lost count of the number of times that companies just announce a new appointment without actually posting the job or letting people apply.

I understand the need for succession planning, but when a position opens up, it shouldn’t just be automatically filled by the next name on the list.  Succession planning should be about ensuring that we have identified suitable candidates, it shouldn’t be about then placing them without giving others the opportunity to apply.

When we restrict peoples ability to apply for positions, even if they wouldn’t be successful, it kills motivation, it makes people feel stuck in their current roles, as if their future is not in their own control, as if no one is interested to listen to them.

I have seen it happen so often it almost feels like it is common practise. At one company I worked I mentioned this to HR, and they said to me but we have the ideal candidate in mind and it’s a lot of effort on our part to interview candidates who won’t get the job, it’s just a waste of time.

I tried to point out that boosting employee engagement is never a waste of time, and allowing people to apply does come with this benefit.

Everyone who applies for a job knows that only one person is going to get it, and quite often people like to apply not because they believe they will get the job, but because they want to raise their profile, they want to be seen and heard. They want to let the leadership know that they are interested in taking on a bigger role, not necessarily now or this one, but they would certainly be open to opportunities in the future.

When we deny them that opportunity not only do we impact their morale and motivation, but we also deny ourselves to see people in a different setting, to potentially learn about some skills that they have that we didn’t know about, or be made aware of good, or even great candidates, that we thought might not be interested.

One of the benefits of being an approachable leader is that quite often I get insights that others don’t get, people feel that because I am approachable and quite open, that they can come to me and share their concerns, what they are not happy about, and I can tell you this is one of the biggest gripes that people have.

Everyone wants to feel that they can at least apply for a role, even if they know deep down they won’t get it.

Personally, I always try to make opportunities open and to allow people to apply, it isn’t always possible, sometimes we’re restructuring the current organisation and that might just mean moving the management team into different roles, and in reality there aren’t really any new opportunities.

I never turn down any application from internal candidates, I always try to look to speak to everyone, give them an opportunity at an informal interview if not a formal one. If someone is looking to make a jump of more than one level I might look to meet with them, thank them for their interest and let them know that this jump is too big.

Often all they are doing is just raining a hand to say don’t forget me, if anything comes available, and they appreciate me taking the time to chat with them, even if it is just informal.

More often than not the candidate that gets the job is the one we would have just handed the role to based on the succession plan, but occasionally we do find a a candidate that we might not have considered, or we learn something about someone that we didn’t know.

But even though it would have been possible to just pick the eventual candidate the value and benefit of going through the process is immense, and significantly bigger than the impact of the alternative.

Sometimes when we do things we need to think of who else benefits, rather than just whats in it for me, because when we take that approach it can blind us, or at least make us short-sighted.

We are always busy, and interviewing people for jobs they are not going to get might seem a waste of time, but increasing employee engagement is never a waste of time.

If you want to learn more about how to increase employee engagement then contact me at

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles