If you haven't caught on, employee engagement begins well before the first day on the job. From the time you send the offer, the timer starts. How are you actively engaging employees before and during the onboarding process.
Stop me if you've seen this photo circulating on LinkedIn. It's a picture of a desk taken on the employee's first day. On it is an array of company branded promotional items neatly arranged waiting for the new hire to arrive. Or, the one where the entire office lines up in a receiving line to greet their newest team -- with high-fives of course.
Let's face it. Employee engagement has transformed with the times. Today it is a public display of how much more does my company care about me than yours does. And with what we know about recruiting Millennials, the workplace needs to evoke a geniune community vibe.
Best Practices for Enhancing the Onboarding Experience
With the increased demand to craft and execute a well-thought-out employer branding strategy, companies are under pressure to innovate how they approach employee engagement. And, if you really stop to think about it, onboarding is the first step in the employee engagement lifecycle.
A new hire's experience on their first day sets the stage (and their mindset) for the rest of their employment. To ensure a positive first-day for all of your contingent or full-time workers (yes, you need to treat them equally), consider incorporating one or more of the following best practices into your onboarding plan.
Engage employees early and often
It's important to make a good first impression with your new hires. Hiring managers should reach out and introduce themselves to their new employees in person on the employee's start day. Also, send the employee any relevant websites, Intranets or forms they will have to fill out in advance, so they don't spend their first day sitting in a cube and nervously navigating important information.
Use technology to engage new hires
If it's not possible to have new hires complete all paperwork prior to their first day, make the forms available online, so employees can complete this portion of the onboarding process more quickly.
Get managers involved with employee engagement
Train your managers how to onboard effectively. Give them a comprehensive checklist to help them walk new hires through the process. Managers should make employees feel like they are contributing and adding value to the organization as early as possible in their employment.
Create a strong internal social network to engage employees
Relationships are key to making employees feel welcome and valued. If your new employee will be working on-site, arrange a comprehensive tour on day one. Assign the new hire a mentor or buddy to help them settle in, and introduce them prior to the start of the engagement.
Also make sure that the employee's first few weeks are populated with meet-and-greets with key leadership, clients, and business partners. If your new employee is going to make an impact, they need to know who the players are.
Engage employees in your company's cultural values
Introduce new hires to the company's cultural values and weave those values into conversations, one-on-ones, and team meetings. Again, start this early and continue consistently throughout the employee's engagement.
Establish clear performance expectations to engage employees
Give employees their job descriptions and written outlines of their performance objectives upfront. Schedule regular performance conversations to formally discuss how they are measuring up to those objectives. Don't reserve feedback just for scheduled performance discussions, however. It should be given frequently and spontaneously.
When it comes to onboarding and employee engagement, don't discriminate against your contingent workers. Despite their contingent or temporary status, contingent workers are still employees of your company, and you have a responsibility to ensure they are assimilated into your culture. Establishing a strong relationship with your contingent employee will build allegiance, which could result in future assignments with your company and strong referrals.
Effective onboarding can enhance employee engagement, increase productivity and ultimately, lead to higher rates of retention. Don't take a sink or swim approach to onboarding your new hires. Start early and touch base often to give your employees the kind of employment experience they won't want to leave.