Three types of employee prospect every CEO must know for maximum staff engagement

A recent Gallup survey found that low employee engagement is estimated to cost the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion a year. Furthermore, work organizations that score in the lower half of employee engagement have half the odds of success as those in the top half.1

As the CEO of Sterling Management, I discovered a hiring breakthrough in 2009 that has helped my firm deliver more than $175 million in services. CEOs are not often actively involved in the hiring process and this lowers the employee engagement that has been shown to impact several key performance outcomes including these:

  • 37 percent lower absenteeism
  • 25 percent lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65 percent lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 10 percent higher customer metrics
  • 21 percent higher productivity
  • 22 percent higher profitability

CEOs need to not only actively participate in the hiring process, but also need to look internally and see what can be done to boost employee engagement and morale. I have continuously observed that “pain points” in business management stem from finding good staff, staff performance, and staff training — and weeding out the bad ones.

It’s important to be involved in hiring because hiring the wrong person can often cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in business or good staff driven away. To make matters worse, CEOs can get caught up in internal issues when they should be driving the business.

First you have to know the different types of personnel:2

  1. The willing person. They listen, they continue to produce better and more efficiently and they make less and less mistakes.
  2. The defiant negative. They don’t improve. They make the same mistakes. No one really wants to depend upon them.
  3. The wholly shiftless. Lazy. Critical. Makes excuses for obvious non-production. They bring down other staff.

Coupled with this, there is actually a workable scale of motivation and believe it or not, money is not the highest incentive. From highest to lowest, the scale is as follows:

Duty: The staff member takes responsibility for his or her job completely, but also extends their responsibility to the area, should something need to be handled that isn’t being taken care of. They are there to serve.

Personal Conviction: They like their job and the field they are working in and are convinced  they are doing something beneficial.

Personal Gain: Only looking for what’s in it for them and they are poorly motivated to take full responsibility for their duties.

Money Motivation: Clock watchers. They show up for a paycheck. They don’t really care about the customers and they put their own concerns first.

With a little practice, each of these types can usually be spotted in their resume and interview. Duty and Personal Convictions types will form the backbone of a company. The others are unemployable. The wise CEO will also evaluate existing staff for type and for degree of motivation. Those that fall below the mark, may correct if given the opportunity. But don’t take promises. They must show results.

1. Moreland, Julie. “The Costs Of Ignoring Employee Engagement.” Fast Company.
2. Wilson, Kevin. “Examples of the Three Types of Personnel.” Personnel: Your Most Valuable Resource or Greatest Burden. Glendale: Sterling, 2010. 11-12. Print.

Kevin Wilson, CEO of Sterling Management, is a highly trained administrator and consultant who has published the human resources book, “Personnel: Your Most Valuable Resource or Greatest Burden.” The company has won more than 75 local, national and international awards including twice appearing on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing, privately-held companies. For more information, visit