How to Keep Employees Engaged During the Onboarding Process
Recruiting new members to your team is always a gamble. Even after an extensive (and exhaustive) selection process, you never quite know for sure if a promising candidate will go on to become an equally impressive employee. But this is not one of those “wait and see” scenarios! The transition from a great candidate to a happy and successful team member is not governed by chance — it’s governed by your ability to integrate them into your operation successfully.
To make sure that new team members hit the ground running, you need a bulletproof onboarding process. One that helps them integrate not only into the fabric of your operations but helps them to fit seamlessly into the positive and dynamic workplace culture that you’ve developed. One that outfits them with the skills, knowledge, capability and support infrastructure that they need to do great things. And above all, one that keeps them engaged and enthusiastic about playing their part in your ongoing success.
Here’s how it’s done.
Set expectations and goals early on
From day one, new employees need to know what’s expected of them. They will come to work with expectations of their own, based largely on their previous experience working for other companies. And while there may be some overlap between your strategic and operational goals and those of their previous employer, there’s no such thing as too much clarity.
It’s not enough to give them some literature on your company’s goals and employee expectations — they need to be shown how those expectations are embodied by your operations and your workforce. Encourage them to integrate socially with other team members. Explain other people’s jobs to them and how everyone fits into the operational machinery of your business.
Help them understand the goals of their job both in isolation and in the broader context of your operation. The more they understand and feel like a member of the team on day one, the more enthusiastic they’re likely to be on day two. And every day thereafter.
Set objectives for personal development
It’s vital that employees understand the nature and context of their role during onboarding. However, it’s also essential that employees know you see them as more than the specific function of their job. When people feel that their employers take an active interest in them as a person, they’re more likely to feel engaged and at home in your organisation. You’re also more likely to retain them further down the line, which will save you the time, effort and expenditure of replacing them.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing a scheme of ongoing personal development. This shouldn’t just be about helping them to do their job better (although competency should certainly play a part). It should also be about helping them develop in their skills outside of their new position.
Take the time to learn their career goals and help them plot a path to achieving them. Who knows what amazing contributions they could make to your business as they grow in their skills, knowledge and experience?
Create a positive working environment
Anyone who’s had to work in a socially toxic environment knows that it can poison any job — even if it’s a job you otherwise love. When new employees don’t feel like they fit into the social fabric of the workplace, don’t feel welcome and don’t feel valued by their peers, they’re far less likely to be engaged.
Engagement isn’t just about being able to do their job well, it’s about being able to make friends at work and enjoy the social aspects of their jobs along with the operational parts. After all, we spend most of our time at work, so the social aspects of it should be enjoyable. At least one study shows that without this social infrastructure, only 28% of employees are engaged, as opposed to 69% who have 25 or more friends at work.
Therefore, your workplace culture is possibly the most effective tool you have in creating a harmonious and successful onboarding process.
Your employees’ wellbeing
Think about the health and wellbeing of your employees. If they aren’t healthy, they won’t be happy. Make sure that employees have a safe space where they can talk to you or other relevant people if they have issues or grievances. Make sure they have a forum where they can air their ideas and suggestions. Make sure that you have an infrastructure in place to help employees relieve stress — as prolonged stress can lead to emotional volatility and interpersonal conflicts.
Make sure your workplace culture encourages social interaction. Give your team time to interact with one another, chat and get to know each other as people. Plan team building activities and social events.
When everyone has a voice and feels like a valued member of the team, they can see that their contributions are valued and acknowledged. And accomplishing all of this is much easier when you…
Introduce recognition tools to show your appreciation
An employee recognition programme is an elegant and important way of reminding new employees that the contributions they make to your company are acknowledged and appreciated. While there are many different ways in which businesses can implement a recognition programme that is well and truly theirs, the process is much easier with the right digital tools.
Employee recognition platforms work in much the same way as social media apps, but are engineered for the workplace so they drive productivity rather than create distractions. They are a great way to share and disseminate the arrival and achievements of new employees. They can be used to officially welcome newcomers and recognise achievements and milestones throughout their onboarding in a way that is tangible to them and their peers. They even allow their colleagues to recognise, share, like and comment on their accomplishments in your workplace.
When their achievements and contributions are recognised and celebrated early on, this is a clever and effective way of ensuring that new employees remain engaged throughout their onboarding. It can also help them feel more at home in your company when peers share and celebrate their achievements, acknowledge their hard work and nominate them for awards.
Recognition should be the new normal
While reward programmes are often being adopted by businesses, it’s recognition that is the more efficient and cost-effective way of motivating your employees. It’s understandable and admirable that employers might want to give their employees tangible and/or monetary rewards for their achievements, but they may be surprised to learn that one study found that 69% of employees claimed if their efforts were better recognised and appreciated, they would work harder.
Although many employee recognition platforms also have the capacity to allow employees to earn rewards, a simple “thank you” or “well done” is its own reward. Especially when it’s out there for the whole company to see. So from onboarding and beyond, employers need to infuse the habits of recognition into their everyday.
When employees see that their earliest efforts are recognised and praised, that their voices are heard and that their colleagues are keen to welcome and celebrate them, you have the perfect conditions for a happy and successful onboarding.