Being the newbie in the workplace is always a tricky and difficult situation. During the first few weeks in the workplace, new hires are expected to be familiar with the multiple work processes, know their team and co-workers, understand the workplace lingo, unspoken rules and so on.
This is where it is essential to have a proper onboarding process in place. When new hires have a clear routine to follow in the first month that they are there and are treated properly, they are likely to feel engaged and valued as an employee. In fact, new hires with an optimistic onboarding experience are 18 times more committed to their employers. Conversely, organisations who are unable to engage their new hires right from the beginning are likely to lose their new hires within the first year.
Engaging new hires goes beyond merely having a clearly defined and structured onboarding process. It is a collective effort from co-workers, team manager and most importantly, business leaders to drive the culture of new hire engagement.
Here are some considerations to boost engagement levels amongst new hires.
Prepare the necessary onboarding tools
Paperwork, administration and on-the-job training are all part of the onboarding process. However, when this is executed poorly, new hires become disengaged right at the beginning. When new hires first join the organisation, they come in with high anticipation levels – new role, new environment and new colleagues. From an employer’s perspective, a robust onboarding programme is the best time to deliver on the promises and employee value proposition that was delivered during the job-seeking and candidacy stage.
The time between a job offer and the first day of work is crucial. Engage new hires by sharing job-relevant information, detailed itinerary for the first week, and the list of key contacts including their direct managers and coworkers. This is also the period to clear any outstanding paperwork and make logistical preparations such as seating arrangements, laptops, and lockers before the new hire starts work. When day one comes around, the new hire can then focus on getting to know people, touring the office, and getting up to speed on the assignments and tasks that they can start working on.
Introduce mentoring or learning opportunities
Regardless of whether a new hire is a fresh graduate, a veteran with over 10 years of experience or newly transferred from another team, they all start on a fresh new page in this new environment. It may or may not be a steep learning curve for these new hires. Help them assimilate into their new environment by assigning a mentor or buddy during the first few months. This provides a communication channel for new hires should they have any questions or issues.
Proactively create learning opportunities for new hires. Some initiatives may include shadowing different team members or leaders, putting them on cross-functional projects or on-the-job rotation. Not only does this encourage knowledge sharing among employees, but it also enables new hires to build new connections in their new environment.
Create active scenarios to know each other better
Throwing new hires into work immediately without any socialising, introduction to the rest of the team, or even receiving feedback from managers early can leave any new hire feeling disengaged. One of the most effective ways to engage new hires is to assign a buddy or create opportunities for new hires and existing employees to get to know each other. Assigning a buddy to the new hire during the onboarding process is highly effective in speeding up the new staff’s proficiency.
Socialisation events are also a great way to engage new hires from the start. Team lunches or after-office drinks allow new hires to know their coworkers beyond a professional experience. This is where new hires have the opportunity to build meaningful connections with others who may share the same interests or hobbies.
Schedule regular check-ins
Checking back with the new hires regularly helps to ensure that they are not getting left behind. Have a check-in plan detailed for new hires, such as at the end of their first week, at the 30-day mark, 90-day mark and so on. New hire feedback via a check-in provides valuable information to HR and managers by helping them to uncover perception gaps. These factors can have a positive effect on reducing early turnover.
Create a list of review questions to ask during these regular check-ins. With the intel gathered, take action to answer and act on the feedback provided. This demonstrates to employees, be it new or current, that HR and leaders are listening and making improvements based on employees’ input.
A poor onboarding experience or unwelcomeness in the first week can start new hires on an emotionally slippery slope, leading to low engagement levels and looking for other opportunities. Research has shown that a great onboarding experience ensures over half of employees (69%) stick with an organisation for at least 3 years before they think about seeking new opportunities. Treat new hires like the rock stars that the organisation has carefully selected. Not only does this save the organisation valuable time and money, it is also imperative in employer branding and can signal to potential hires that this is an organisation worth working for.