Research over the last decade has made the case that employee engagement in an organization is highly correlated with success in achieving business goals. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that companies with highly engaged employees experience 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability, among many other positive metrics.
An engaged workplace also helps create a positive work environment. When employees are engaged at work, they:
- Feel a connection with the company
- Believe that the work they’re doing is important
- Want to work harder
The most successful companies know that a strategy of engaging and retaining new employees begins on their first day. First impressions are important, and the first day for a new employee is no exception. This is the first day of an onboarding journey that can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Every organization should take advantage of the opportunity to make a new employee feel welcome and important.
The first day should be simple and focused on providing a great employee experience. However, despite the simple nature of the agenda, overlooked logistics can wreak havoc on a new hire’s first day. Do you want to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot? Here are some best practices to follow:
- Organize and prepare early for the candidate’s first day.
Don’t wait to start preparing for the new hire. In this hiring market, it’s more likely employers will lose candidates between when the offer is accepted and a new employee’s first day. Because of that, companies should make an extra effort to stay in touch during that crucial period.
- Make sure IT and office resources are ready for day one.
If a new hire has to wait a day to start working because an access code is not created, a phone doesn’t work, or a desk isn’t ready, the experience can leave a negative impression of the company. If you can, set up the new hire’s desk or work station so it is welcoming or at the very least prepared for work to commence.
- Introduce new hires to teammates and key stakeholders.
The new hire is busy. Every teammate and leader is busy, too. Take the time early to introduce the new hire to the people they need to know. Take the new hire out to lunch or schedule a happy hour to get to know their team outside of the office. It can make your organization stand out as a great employer and make the new hire feel special.
- Give new hires a tour of the facilities.
Make sure someone is available to provide a tour, not simply of the immediate working area, but of all the places the new hire is likely to go. Even minor logistics such as where to park your car, where to get coffee and store your food, places to eat lunch, etc.
- Provide background on the company and business strategy.
Provide a detailed education to help the new hire understand the larger picture and take pride in your team and your business right from the start. Make sure the company literature is up to date and relevant. Help new employees understand how their work aligns with the work of their team members, business area and organization.
- Provide clear job expectations from the start.
Take a second look at what you are communicating to the new hire. Are you communicating 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals? Do you give employees enough information and access to allow them to ask questions? Providing regular feedback will ensure that your new hires always know their strengths and areas for improvement. This sets the new hire up for success, which in turn leads to better retention.
- Communicate with your new hire consistently and frequently.
Communication and relationship-building define the employee experience. Meet with new hires during their first day, first week and first month to answer any questions and mitigate any concerns. Look to assign your new employee with a mentor.
Especially in this candidate-driven hiring landscape, you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to retain the new hires you’ve worked so hard to recruit. It’s worth taking the time to ensure you have an onboarding strategy that prioritizes the new employee experience and builds engagement.
Eric Pezzo is the Director of Business Development at Aerotek.