Employee Engagement: When Does It Start?

Group of Employees

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to spend time with Brent Pearson, founder of Enboarder (and former Monster Government Solutions Managing Director) as he made his whirlwind tour through the US to talk with companies and federal agencies about the latest research in Employee Engagement and Onboarding. At an Enboarder and HRworx hosted breakfast event in DC, “Rethink Employee Engagement and Onboarding,” Brent highlighted the impact of Millennial’s in the workplace and what they expect from employers, and the role onboarding plays in the engagement process.

The research has shown that for candidates being recruited, they reach a very high level of engagement around the point the offer is made, and it can rise and continue to rise through a positive onboarding experience with a connection to the hiring manager; or it can decline and continue to spiral downward with impersonal communications that are task focused.

The graphic below depicts this disparity in new hire engagement depending on the type of preboarding and onboarding process experienced by the new hire. In a previous blog, Onboarding: Hiring Manager’s Playbook, I ask about whether there is a toolkit or ‘playbook’ for hiring managers to understand how important their direct involvement is in the onboarding process for building new hire engagement.

What Does It Mean

The research confirms a couple of things. Hiring Managers who seldom hire need coaching, guidance, or a toolkit to support them in being a great hiring manager to represent your organization well! Millennials expect a high degree of communication and want lots of details about the role, and also value being welcomed into an organization.

During the breakfast event in October on Employee Engagement and Onboarding, Brent Pearson shared the type of communications that can easily be facilitated between new hires and hiring managers through Enboarder. Imagine if you were a hiring manager and you had a virtual coach prompting you throughout the preboarding process on communications that the new hire would enthusiastically welcome. The virtual coach also sends prompts via text or emails that are prepopulated with the information to make that manager look like a rock star.

Virtual Coach for Hiring Manager:

A message might say, “Great news Bob – your new hire, Angela, just accepted the offer and will begin on Nov 15! She might really like it if you congratulated her on accepting. If you’d like to call, click here (123) 456-7890 (prepopulated with new hire’s cell number) or if you prefer sending a text message, click here to send “Congratulations Angela. I just heard you accepted the offer and will be starting on 11/15. We’re looking forward to having you join the team!”

Through a workflow developed for a particular role or position type, the Enboarder technology prompts hiring managers and other stakeholders to build engagement through communications during preboarding and onboarding.

What I’ve heard about Employee Engagement from many agencies is that a) it’s a top priority to improve; and b) the focus is on current agency employees, and little is mentioned around onboarding and how it impacts new hire engagement. Maybe its time to ‘Rethink Onboarding’ and realize the onboarding process needs to be more than what we experienced as new hires entering an organization.

Top 7 Ways to Rethink Onboarding

  • Onboarding is the responsibility of the hiring manager and supported by HR and other departments
  • Design onboarding to create an engaging experience. Wow the new employee
  • Choreograph a new dance and coach the managers on how to lead
  • Generation Y offers a lot – understand their strengths and listen to them
  • Share a new employee’s strengths with the organization
  • One size does not fit all – tailor the onboarding process
  • Experiment, measure and constantly optimize

If your agency doesn’t have an Onboarding Process for new hires that includes direction and assistance for the hiring manager to build new hire engagement through a Wow onboarding experience, make sure you’ve got the right tools and support in place for your hiring managers. With automation, you can ensure the tactical and compliance factors around onboarding are completed gracefully and reliably. Plus, an automated Onboarding system such as HRworx Onboarding, can easily be configured to automate each step of your onboarding process.

I wish I could say that using tools such as those provided by Enboarder and HRworx would fix new hire engagement challenges and all problems would be resolved! Using a virtual coach for hiring managers is a great tool, but what about the day-to-day communications once the new hire has started? Its possible that hiring managers may need some training in how to manage millennials to help bridge the generation gap in terms of expectations and factors that drive them to excel and perform.

Without question the breakfast event, Rethink Employee Engagement and Onboarding was insightful and the information provided made a solid argument for the importance of the onboarding process. If you heard about the event but were unable to attend and would like to see the materials, contact me for the presentation.

Shout out to Brent Pearson from Enboarder and Rob Hankey from HRworx who allowed me to share the slides from the event. They are seeking agencies willing to pilot a new onboarding process to get clear ROI data demonstrating the positive impact on new hire engagement. If you’re interested in discussing a pilot, email me and I’ll get you in touch with the right people who can answer your questions and help you explore how to shape a 12-week pilot for positive ROI on new hire engagement. Till the next time, relook at your current processes and think about new approaches for employee onboarding!