Put energy into onboarding for high-voltage, long-lasting employee engagement.
According to a Gallup poll, employee engagement is at 34% nationwide. This number may not sound impressive, but it’s the highest level since 2000. At the same time, disengagement is at 13%, its lowest level ever. Nonetheless, Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost employers up to $600 billion in lost productivity each year. To improve engagement, start at the beginning—with effective onboarding.
Onboarding should be more than just paperwork, introductions, an employee handbook, and an ID tag. It is an opportunity to share the organization’s story, including its mission and values. Highlight some key accomplishments and other high points in the company’s history and how employees contributed to these successes. Help new hires see how their work fits into the organization’s mission and their role in growth and innovation. When they envision themselves as key players, new employees are more likely to feel inspired to do their best and take pride in the work.
The most successful onboarding isn’t one-size-fits-all. It is important to engage new employees on a personal level. While some elements of onboarding will be necessary and essential for everyone, consider the individual needs, interests, and skills of each new employee. Some ways to personalize onboarding include:
· Tapping into the new person’s energy and passion. For example, a new caregiver who is an animal lover might be a perfect fit to work with residents who have pets or get pet visits.
· Using a variety of media—videos, photos, interactive programs, etc.—to engage people and keep them interested throughout the onboarding process.
· Limiting training to specific information relevant to the new employee’s work.
· Breaking training into short segments to give people time to digest information and adjust to the organization. Stretching onboarding over months also can help keep newcomers’ enthusiasm and company loyalty high.
· Allowing employees to take charge of their role as soon and as safe as possible.
· Involving veteran employees who are enthusiastic and passionate. Consider connecting new hires with mentors to help them feel at home and facilitate their organizational engagement.
· Beyond the basics, seeking input from new employees about what additional training, education, or support they want/need. Have an open-door policy so they know you are there for them over time.
Measure the reception and impact of your onboarding efforts. Reconnect frequently during employees’ first year to assess their adjustment to their job and the organization. When possible, use real-time performance data to track their progress.
The investment in onboarding that increases engagement is valuable. According to Gallup, organizations and teams with higher employee engagement and lower active disengagement perform at higher levels, and engaged workers report better health outcomes.