Proven Practices for Engaging New Employees

Hiring good people who have the right skills AND fit your organizational culture is no small task. Once you have them onboard, how do you keep their passion and enthusiasm alive in the first 30, 60, 90 days and beyond?

Our guest, Sean Conrad at Halogen Software, shares with us four valuable practices to engage and retain your new hires. Enjoy!

Doing a good job of welcoming new employees and setting them up for success is critical to employee retention.

When we talk about “onboarding” or the work involved in welcoming new employees, most people think about the administrative tasks involved, like: assigning badges; issuing parking passes; filling out the HR paperwork required for employee records (payroll, taxation, benefits, emergency contacts, etc.); making sure the employee has a workspace, phone and computer; setting up IT accounts/passwords for network access; giving them a branded pen or shirt; etc. While all these activities are necessary and important, they don’t really contribute significantly to the employee’s success on the job.

Some companies also include activities to help a new employee build a network of internal of contacts and learn the organization’s culture. These can include things like: meetings with key decision-makers, influencers or executives, team lunches, pairing with a work buddy, or simply a checklist of people to meet. While this too is helpful, there are some other more important tasks that can improve new employee performance, engagement and retention.

Here is a quick overview of some essential activities that can help new employees successfully transition into their role and the organization.

Make Sure Your New Employee has an Up-to-Date Job Description
Every new employee should be given an up-to-date job description. While ideally, the content of the job description should have been represented in the job posting and discussed in the interview process, that is not always the case. And even if it was, often significant time elapses between the interview and start date, or the manager/organization make changes to the job description during the hiring process. So it’s important for the manager or HR to reiterate, clarify and confirm the details of the job the employee will be doing and what is expected of them. New employees need to quickly understand the essential functions they are responsible for and that they’ll be evaluated on. This includes things like: the purpose of their role; the reporting structure they fit into; the main challenges they’ll face; the competencies they are expected to demonstrate; the requirements for their role; the outcomes they are expected to produce. The job description helps communicate expectations and set the employee up for success.

Set Goals the Next 3-6 Months
Beyond their job description, your new employee needs to know what you expect of them in the next three to six months. A new employee typically wants to “hit the ground running” and prove themselves; they join the organization full of energy, passion and optimism. Capitalize on that energy by giving them goals and work assignments that help them transition into their new role, learn on the job and start contributing right away. It can be especially helpful to assign a new employee to work on a team or in partnership with a more experienced employee. This kind of assignment provides your new employee with the on-the-job learning and mentoring they need to adopt your organization’s “way of doing things” and culture. And it helps them feel like they’re contributing to the organization in a meaningful way, which is critical for engagement and retention.

Give Them Feedback
Right from the start, employees need to know what they’re doing well and where they can improve. So make sure their managers give them feedback on their performance early on, both formally and informally. It’s never too soon to start the dialogue on performance! But you should also schedule more formal 30, 60, and 90 day reviews to discuss expectations, review and revise goals, provide feedback on performance and assign appropriate development activities as needed. These frequent reviews are vital to give the employee the direction, feedback and support they need to succeed.

Help Them Develop
All new employees go through a steep learning curve, regardless of their knowledge, skills or experience. So right from day 1, support their continued learning with meaningful development activities. Research from the Center for Creative Leadership tells us that up to 90% of the learning we do is on the job, so don’t overwhelm your new employee with days or weeks of formal training they can’t apply immediately. Focus instead on providing them with a supportive work environment where they can learn from others and apply their learnings to their work. You can achieve this through job shadowing, or assigning them a coach, mentor or even a “work buddy” who’s there to guide their work, answer their questions, and teach them what they need to know to achieve their initial goals and become proficient in their role.

Assimilating a new employee well, so they quickly become engaged and productive is vitally important to your organization. It requires more than efficient administrative processes, some company swag and a few courses. From day 1, you need to provide a new employee with the direction, feedback and development they need to succeed. These performance management basics are important supports for all employees, but especially for new ones, and contribute to employee performance, engagement, retention and success.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software. He writes about people management best-practices for the Halogen Software blog.

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Posted in Employee Communication, Employee Development, Employee Engagement, Onboarding

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