We’ve talked before about the issues surrounding employee engagement: if your people aren’t engaged with your company and the work they’re doing, not only are they not being productive (on your time and money!) but they’re probably not going to stick around for long either.
But too many companies make the mistake of ‘shutting the gate after the horse has bolted’ - to use the old saying. Meaning, they’re addressing issues of poor engagement too far down the line, when an employee has already disengaged.
You need to nail employee engagement from the moment new hires start working for you.
Because surely it would be far better to nip potential problems in the bud by creating engagement from day one? It would certainly be a lot easier and less time consuming for your HR Department and for your managers.
Creating engagement needs to be a part of your onboarding process. It should be on your new hire checklist with each and every new employee who walks through your door.
How to tell if your new hire engagement strategy is working
But how do you know if your brand new shiny engagement strategy is actually working?
What’s the point of adding it into your new hire checklists and onboarding process if you don’t have a means by which to measure it?
Now, if you’re tempted to close your browser and stop reading because multiple convoluted spreadsheets and graphs are starting to flash before your eyes, stay with us for a moment!
Measuring engagement levels with your new hires doesn’t have to involve calculators, fractions, charts and headaches. Allow us to explain.
Meaningful data only comes from meaningful feedback
It’s all about ‘the F word’ - yep, you got it: feedback.
Along with pre-start date welcome emails and buddy programmes, collecting feedback should already be an intrinsic part of your onboarding process. After all, it’s the only way to gauge how a new hire is feeling about their first days, weeks, and even months with your company.
But here’s the thing; if you want to collect meaningful data from your employee feedback outreach, you’re going to need to ask meaningful questions.
“How was your first week?” isn’t going to cut it. Even worse, it’s not really going to mean anything to your new employee either; they know that such a generic question is just lip service and not a genuine query about how their first week really went.
You need to come up with a list of questions that dig a little deeper to enable you to find out what is, and isn’t, working in your onboarding process. You don’t need to play the 20 questions game either: the more succinct and strategic your questions, the less you’ll need.
That will get you more thoughtful responses and therefore more valuable data for you to measure your new hire engagement with.
A few things to note about employee feedback surveys
- Reassure your employees that their answers are strictly confidential.
- Explain to your new hires what the survey is for and how their feedback will be used to improve your onboarding process moving forward.
- Don’t bombard new people with questions that aren’t relevant to the onboarding process. This is your chance to learn what is and isn’t working so you can further engagement at this point in an employee’s career with your organisation.
- Remember that everyone likes giving their opinion and this is a prime example in which you can engage with your new starters from the get-go.
So that you can get a real feel for your onboarding process and the journey that new hires undertake when joining your company you will probably want to make your fact finding mission last for around two to three months after they first join you.
Spread your feedback survey out into bite size chunks over the course of this period and really focus on each step of onboarding.
What to ask your employees at the end of their first week
- What is your understanding of our company’s mission and goals?
- What do you think your part to play in achieving our mission and goals is?
What you’re trying to do here is not just ensure that a new employee understands your company mission, but that they also recognise that they have a part to play in your success. You are communicating your values, and when a new hire sees they can contribute to the bigger picture, they will be more likely to become engaged.
If they appear unclear on what you’re asking, this means you have some work to do. For example, the mission needs to be clearly communicated to them right at the start of the week, so that your new hire immediately begins to feel a sense of engagement.
What to ask your employees at the end of their third week
- How motivated do you feel about your Employee Growth & Development Plan?
Employee Development Plans are an integral way in which you can engage with your people - especially your new hires. It stands to reason that having a plan for - and thereby encouraging - an employee’s growth you have a greater chance of retaining them.
However, signs of dissatisfaction could indicate a number of things. Maybe your new hire’s manager hasn’t invested the time or effort required to create a solid plan. Or even if they have, perhaps the employee hasn’t had enough input and isn’t happy with certain aspects of it.
If so, you need to get to the root cause of the issue and rectify any problems as quickly as possible. For an employee to be engaged with a company, they need to be able to see that they have a future there. A poor or non-existent roadmap for growth will not encourage this.
What to ask your employees at the end of their fifth week
- How satisfied are you with your manager/team leader?
Positivity, productivity, inclusion and a can-do attitude all need to be a part of a company’s culture. And for that to happen these traits need to trickle down from an organisation’s leadership. If your new hire isn’t getting those vibes from their manager and/or team leader then their engagement levels could be headed in the wrong direction.
If that’s the case, this is a key moment for HR to step in and see what’s causing those feelings. Is it an issue with the onboarding process - for example, does the manager not have enough of a part to play? Or is it a people problem? Does the individual in question’s management style need to be assessed?
If it’s the latter and this isn’t the first time a new hire has mentioned being dissatisfied with that manager, it might be time to look at that department a little more closely.
What to ask your employees at the end of their seventh week
- Do you feel like the work you are doing is appreciated and recognised?
Employee recognition has a direct knock-on effect on employee engagement. After all, none of us want to turn up to work every day only to have our efforts ignored. It can be all too easy to inadvertently take our colleagues’ work for granted - who isn’t guilty of that on occasion as we get caught up in the daily grind?!
But by fostering a culture of recognition you will increase a sense of engagement with your people. And this counts for everyone from your newest hire to your remote workers. No matter how small the task completed is, thanking a new hire will increase their confidence and boost engagement levels.
(And let’s not forget that people working remotely are often liable to be ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ thus increasing a disconnect and disengagement.)
If your new hires are feeling underappreciated, it’s time to address the reasons why with their manager and/or team.
What to ask your employees at the end of their ninth week
- Are you being given the opportunity to do what you excel at?
By now your new employee should be feeling more established and should have a better grasp on what they are doing and what’s expected of them. But if they’re not being given the opportunity to shine and are tasked with uninspiring jobs, that sense of disengagement is going to be creeping in already.
True, we can’t all spend every hour of every day doing what we’re best at - and therefore enjoy doing the most - but employees need to be given a chance to step up and make a difference. After all, you hired that person for one or more very good reasons: make sure those reasons are being given space to flourish.
Not only will this benefit the department and the company as a whole, but it will up the engagement factor with your fledgling employee too.
How to tell if your new hire strategy is working: conclusion
We promised you somewhere around the start of this post that spreadsheets and numbers wouldn’t be involved in understanding how well your new hire strategy is working. And we think we’ve delivered on that promise!
And by asking for feedback from your people, you are gaining a more human perspective into how new starters at your company feel about your onboarding process, your managers and teams, and your company.
This allows you to identify problems or issues and take positive action. And that in turn will lead to more engaged employees right off the starting block, and greater employee retention for your organisation.