Strengths Based Recruitment : The Evidence

Strengths Based Recruitment : The Evidence


‘The management innovation of our time’ - this is what Professor David Cooperrider, co-creator of Appreciative Inquiry says of strengths-based approaches to recruitment and it is no surprise to me that he makes this comment.

 Organisations that adopt strengths-based recruitment (SBR) are seeing an incredible impact on their bottom- line, their customer service and employee engagement. An increasing number of pioneering leaders are opting for this approach because of the qualitative and quantitative benefits it brings.

 By shifting the focus from what people can do (competency-based recruitment) to what they are naturally good at and love doing (strengths-based recruitment) companies have reported results which include a 50% drop in staff turnover, a 20% increase in productivity and a 12% increase in customer satisfaction within a matter of months. And some have saved £millions.

 American science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said: ‘Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.’ This quote vividly describes what, at it’s worst, the competency approach to selection and development attempts to do. It tries to knock ‘round pegs’ into ‘square holes’. This is normally done with the best intentions and employers often provide training or coaching but if a person is fundamentally unsuited for a particular role no amount of development activity will change that.

 When people are well suited to their role their performance and therefore the organisation’s performance improves. This has a ripple effect in that managers have to spend less time and energy on dealing with under-performance. Having the right person in the job is far reaching in its consequences.

 For managers using SBR, a whole raft of employee problems completely fall away and they are able to fill their working hours with positively-focused activities and pro-active projects. They are less stressed, enjoy their own job and achieve far more.


The reported benefits to organisations that implement SBR are :

  • Individual and organisational performance improvement from having the right people in the job
  • Increased employee engagement because people are happier, leading to increased customer satisfaction
  • Improvement in the organisation’s reputation through positive candidate experience
  • Cost savings because less time and money is wasted recruiting people who don’t stay or who are wrong for the job
  • Less need for expensive training and development to fix weaknesses
  • Reduced frustration of managers having to deal with job-holders who are unsuited to their roles
  • Improved rigour and efficiency of recruitment processes
  • A widening of the talent pool to include people who previously may not have been considered suitable for a role
  • Increase in candidate advocacy because rejected candidates understand and accept why the job is not right for them
  • A positive shift in company culture that comes from having employees who are excited by, and thriving in, their jobs


The impact of SBR was outlined by one leader a year into implementation :

 “Strengths-based recruitment has totally transformed the way we attract and recruit and it will have a huge impact on the future growth and reputation of our business in terms of quality. We now know what great looks like and the results are showing us that it's working".


For more insight into the impact of SBR on the bottom line you can download this free Thought Leadership paper


To view Sally's book and enjoy exclusive 20% discount, visit the following website and use discount code : HRSBRW



Sally Bibb is the Founding Director of Engaging Minds, a company that profiles people’s strengths and helps organisations including the AA, UK NHS, and Starbucks to appoint people into roles that play to their strengths.

Her book Strengths-Based Recruitment and Development (published by Kogan Page) is the first book published on the subject. Evidence-based, it includes case studies and interviews with eight executive board-level leaders and six managers who have implemented strengths-based recruitment and development. These provide rare insight into how they implemented strengths approaches in their organizations to improve the bottom line and performance. It shows how strengths-based recruitment (SBR) goes beyond simply recruiting the right people to creating a strategy and culture that has a transformational effect on organisational culture and results.