Building the foundation for employee engagement starts on Day 1. It makes sense the onboarding process would be a key target in organizations seeking to motivate their employees, however many organizations continue to fail to address employee engagement. The Altimeter Group found the majority of organizations surveyed in a 2014 report that they lack a comprehensive plan to improve employee engagement.

Making Onboarding a Driver for Employee Engagement

First impressions make just as much impact on a new employee as they do in everyday life, yet onboarding often gets overlooked because the immediate return on invested time in onboarding isn’t always readily apparent. You can make a good impression during your onboarding process by addressing two components of onboarding success I’ve highlighted below.

Mentors, We All Need One

Management’s leadership and communication style are a driving factor in employee engagement under any circumstance, but the effect has greater impact when leadership provides new employees with their first experience with your organization. Carefully choosing a mentor to give new hires an accurate, positive intro to your company can get them started on the right foot.

Clark DeWaal was a mentor to me early on in my career. What made him a great mentor wasn’t that he spent copious amounts of time with me (he didn’t) but rather because he took a genuine interest in me. I knew I could ask him anything and he would respond with straightforward, honest answers that helped me grow and contribute to the organization for which I worked in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.

It’s often been said that good ideas can come from anyone, likewise good mentors can come from almost anywhere in your organization. Facilitating peer-to-peer communication via employee engagement platforms like CompanyIQ can provide opportunities for mentor-mentee relationships to form, in an organic way that requires no intervention from executive teams or management.

Setting Clear Expectations

Onboarding is management’s first opportunity man to communicate clear expectations, another driving factor in employee engagement. It seems like common sense, but you can’t expect people to do what you want them to do if they don’t know what you want them to do, and this can only happen if you communicate it to them in a way that they understand. Onboarding is the perfect opportunity to impart upon new employees exactly what you need them to do and how well you expect them to do it.

MicroBenefits recently released a report on employee engagement in Chinese factories (where historically employee engagement rates have hovered at single-digit rates) providing insight into how this long-standing trend is reversing itself with the use of technology and buy-in of management. You may work in a very different environment, but the employee engagement principles are the same, and can help you motivate, retain and build new hires into leaders in your organization.


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