There are many benefits that come from having engaged employees. They are more productive, have a better attitude and outlook towards their work, are passionate about what they do, and contribute greatly to the overall success of your organization.
While we want all employees to be engaged, but the reality of this happening is slim. To encourage employee engagement, it’s important to start from an employee’s first day (or even before).
4 Ways to Engage Employees from the Start
You may question whether or not employee engagement is important for your organization. After all, without much information, it could seem like just another task for your team to take on. However, high employee engagement can lead to greater retention and an increase in positive dialogue about your company culture. Work is no longer limited to a 9-5 schedule. As work and life becomes more integrated, you don’t want your employees resenting their work when they leave the office.
Encouraging your employees engage in the workforce can be easy. After all, you’d like to believe that your employees want to be involved in your organization’s success. To increase your chances of having an engaged team, there are a few steps you can take to optimize your employee experience.
1. Open Up a Conversation Before Your New Hire’s Start Date
New hires often sit in silence from the time that they receive their offer letter to when they walk in the door on the first day (or sign in if you have a remote workforce). Creating an engaged workforce means making sure that new hires are excited to come in for their first day, whether that’s through providing information about their new job and the company or sending a welcome package to all of your new hires.
If you have an active and engaged recruiting process, the onboarding process shouldn’t be any different. Onboarding sets the tone for the employee experience and establishes the standard for employee engagement within your company. Regular communication with new hires proves to them that you care and are excited for them to join your organization. And worse: lack of communication can lead to the potential team members accepting a job offer elsewhere.
Another way to keep employees engaged from the start is having them do their new employee paperwork ahead of time. There’s nothing less exciting than filling out the dreaded tax forms on an employee’s first day. If possible, send that paperwork over to your employees before they arrive for their first day so they can spend their time meeting their colleagues and getting started on their work.
Before a new employee arrives at the office, communicate what they should expect during their first week and even give them a sneak peek of their future team. Send an email with information about where they should go, what trainings they’ll receive, your organizational structure, and more.
Additionally, once your employee is in-office, your HR team can have open office hours during the first week. This way, all new team members can ask basic questions about your company’s offerings.
2. Make the First Day Memorable and Easy
First days can be nerve-wracking for everyone, including employers that want to present the best face of their company. To create an engaged team, try to ensure that your new hires have a smooth first day and that all behind-the-scenes steps to onboard them are taken care of in advance.
There’s nothing more unprofessional than not being prepared for a new team member. One thing you can do to avoid this discomfort is to ensure the new hire’s manager is in the office on their first day. This may seem like a small detail, but their manager is a regular point of contact who can provide valuable insights into team dynamics, upcoming projects, and where to start with onboarding. Additionally, make sure that laptops, other equipment, and log-ins for tools are all set up for your new hire so they have the resources they need to get settled.
Consider making use of an onboarding tool to put everything in one place. Even though team members may not need access on their first day, it’ll create a smooth process when they need access to them later.
Having a new hire orientation is a great way to make the first day for team members easy. You can provide information and training on the company’s mission, how your work contributes to goals, and dive into the company’s culture.
Engaged employees see the greater vision of the organization and want to contribute to it with their work. Take them on a tour of the office no matter the size so that they know how to get around. Additionally, new hire orientations provide new members an opportunity to meet other employees outside of their team. Find what structure for your new hire orientation works best for your company and run with it.
At the end of the day, suggest that your managers have a one-on-one debrief with their new team member. With a whirlwind of information being thrown at the employee, setting aside this time provides an opportunity for them to ask questions. Leaders can also use this time to talk about the rest of the week and what is expected from the new hire. Having an open dialogue between management and individual employees is great for transparency and building trust on your teams.
3. Ensure Feedback is Given and Received Regularly
Feedback is a two-way street. To make sure that your employees are engaged and feel that their voice is being heard, make feedback a consistent part of your company culture. Team members should feel comfortable going to their managers with feedback, and vice versa. By regularly asking for feedback, you open up the conversation to address issues while they happen.
Frequent feedback doesn’t always equal negative feedback. Make sure that your leadership recognizes employees for actions that they go above and beyond in. Compliments will build confidence in your new hires and make them more excited to come to work each day.
Regular 1:1s are a great way to open the conversation for feedback and provide progress updates on what team members are working on. Establish a regular cadence for meetings and create simple agendas to ensure that meetings stay on track and can be referenced in the future.
4. Involve Leadership During the Onboarding Process
Depending on the size of your organization, involving your upper management may be a difficult task. They have their own responsibilities and may be pulled in many directions by many different teams. However, getting them involved in the onboarding process can make all the difference in creating engaged team members.
When team members feel like leadership is approachable, they feel more valued. Consider having your CEO or other leader lead a session on company history or organizational values. Having a high-level session led by these leaders enables them to showcase their passion for the company, inspiring new hires and furthering their sense of culture. Have your leadership emphasize that they are open to employees reaching out to them via email or another internal communication tool. This open line of communication demonstrates that they have a stake in business operations and that management cares about every team member’s thoughts.
Your leadership team may not see the value of being involved, especially if you’re a part of a larger organization. Focus on the benefits that it will provide for the long-term and highlight the importance of a strong employee experience for retention. They’ll likely see the benefits and agree to it — although, you may have to make some compromises.
Employee Engagement Starts with You
Your team members won’t be motivated to engage if your team does nothing to encourage it. And if they don’t see their own team members engaged with your organization, they’ll quickly become disengaged. Audit your current state of employee engagement at your organization and identify areas for improvement. Then, go forth and encourage your new hires to engage with your workplace.
A greater level of employee engagement can increase workplace happiness, performance, and more. Don’t wait until it’s too late to jump on the employee engagement train — start now to improve the state of your organization authentically.
Anastasia Masters is a Content Marketing Associate at G2.com. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys eating her way through Chicago’s different neighborhoods, planning her next trip, and binging a new show on Netflix. You can follow her on Twitter at @anastasia_mm0.