• Onboarding 101: How to Engage Employees

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    May 23, 2012

    Onboarding is all about getting new hires engaged. Still, there is an alarming amount of disengagement across the employment landscape. Here are a few ways to build engagement into your onboarding efforts:

    • Start with a quick employee survey—This will help provide a good baseline assessment to use for comparison purposes at the conclusion of formal onboarding efforts. Sample questions include: How would you rate your overall satisfaction at our company? Are we meeting your expectations? Do you have the tools and resources you need to be successful? If you survey consistently, you’ll have comparative data you can use to continually tweak your program so it evolves and improves over time. (For examples of a few employee surveys that can easily be imported into Zoomerang or Survey Monkey, visit http://emilybennington.com/nace.)  
    • Work with new hires to create individual career/growth plans—Donʼt just assign goals and targets; have managers sit down with each new hire and ask questions such as, “Where do you see yourself growing in the company?” “What do you want to achieve?” “Do you have any personal goals, e.g. long-distance running, increased family time, and so on, that we can support?” Engagement comes from employees feeling like they are respected and have a stake in the success of the company. That's where the process of creating career/growth plans really helps because it not only gives new hires success benchmarks (something a surprising number of employees don't have), but just asking how you can support them builds loyalty.
    • Hold your leaders accountable—Overwhelmingly, when an employee complains about work, the problem is not with the job—itʼs with the manager. The shortage of good, quality mentors and leaders in the work force today is directly proportional to the shortage of employee loyalty. Itʼs a cause-and-effect relationship. Since “leadership” is a tough quality to measure, a good starting point would be to hold every manager accountable for how his/her employees answer questions on an annual Gallup Q12 survey. (This can be administered with the help of Gallup or on your own; find additional information plus the survey questions by Googling “Gallup Q12.”)
    • Tell employees your plans—“Satisfied” employees are getting a paycheck, but “engaged” employees are contributing to your mission. Just as the number of employees who have no idea about their performance targets (the “what”) is surprising, so is the number of employees who have no idea about the mission of their company beyond making money (the “why”). Your managers should try to pull out the best from their employees by giving them a mission that is light years beyond profits (that is, serving clients/solving problems) and genuinely caring about them as people.

    For more information about effective onboarding, see “All Aboard! Take Your Onboarding Program From Lackluster to Blockbuster” from the April 2012 NACE Journal.

Onboarding 101: How to Engage Employees