Fit Matters Everywhere

Korn Ferry’s new global report shows that employees with a strong fit to their role are more likely to be highly engaged.

It’s well established that companies with a robust workforce of highly engaged employees see better outcomes across the board. In fact, one Korn Ferry study shows that organizations with high engagement scores see 2.5 times the revenue growth of those with lower scores.

Engagement, in other words, is crucial to performance. But how do companies with less-than-stellar scores drive engagement in their ranks? Is there a magic engagement pill to boost outcomes or a recipe of sorts for improving engagement?

Although there is no “magic pill,” recent research from the Korn Ferry Institute suggests that such a recipe may indeed exist. "It is clear from both our own research and the wider literature that specific profiles of traits, work-related behavioral inclinations, and motives are associated with success in particular jobs,” says James Lewis, senior director and senior scientist at the Korn Ferry Institute, Korn Ferry’s research arm. “However, target profiles vary from job to job and are not one-size-fits-all.”

In its new report, Fit Matters Everywhere (an update and expansion of its 2016 study), the Korn Ferry Institute found that the fit between an employee and a job’s requirements is a key—and consistent—driver of engagement across the globe. After analyzing assessment results from over 120,000 global professionals across all management levels, researchers from the Institute discovered that a person whose attributes strongly match what is required for success in a role is 7.5 to 8 times more likely to be highly engaged than a colleague with weaker fits.

For companies, this means employees who are well suited to their roles will be more interested, more engaged, and more committed to the business. In turn, they will be more satisfied with their work, stay longer with the organization, and ultimately be better performers.

This principle of “fit” persists from role to role, function to function, across all levels, regions, and industries, according to the report. Even though there are sight variations within each of these variables, the research found that a better fit is always associated with an increase in work engagement.

To enhance performance, organizations can move the needle on engagement by creating a long-term strategy for recruitment, assessment, and employee development, says Stephen Lams, vice president for data and analytics at the Korn Ferry Institute. “This research well underlines the value of a more systematic, considered approach to defining what you need in a given role and of measuring to ensure a strong fit,” Lams says. “The potential payoffs for organizations that do this well are too substantial to be ignored.”

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