7 Trust-Building Ideas To Strengthen New Employee Onboarding And Engagement


For companies wanting to start new employees off on the right foot, take a good look at the onboarding process. If this process is missing from your organization or not hitting the mark, these seven out-of-the-box ideas will ensure a memorable experience that builds trust and increases engagement.

Don’t pre-record welcome messages

If leaders want to send the message that employees are valued, the last thing they will do is pre-record a welcome message. In today’s world, everyone can be connected easily with technology, so there are no excuses for leaders not to appear in person or via teleconference. Group onboarding is the perfect time to offer an authentic welcome and to emphasize corporate values and culture. Those messages will, of course, be reemphasized throughout the onboarding process. Consistency in messaging is critical to setting and managing new employee expectations. Netflix begins day one of the onboarding process with executive management introducing technology, culture, mission and vision.

Use personal storytelling to express employee culture

Don’t just recite corporate policy; make it come alive with storytelling. Want to emphasize the flexible work policy? Bring in several employees who use flexible scheduling in different ways. Instead of reading the diversity and inclusion policy and explaining that bullying and discrimination of any kind are grounds for termination, have employees share personal stories of what inclusion feels like to them. Want to emphasize the importance of diverse, age-inclusive teams? Showcase recent team successes and highlight the value of diversity in creative problem-solving. There is power in storytelling, and every genuinely diverse and inclusive company has these kinds of stories to share. They only need to look for them.

Don’t give all the responsibility to HR

HR is integral to recruiting new talent and setting them up for success, but they are only the first introduction to the employee experience. Every employee contributes to creating a welcoming employee culture, so share the responsibility across the organization. To demonstrate the value of new employees, give them insights into every part of the company. For larger companies with multiple business units, have a senior representative from each business explain what they do and how it contributes to company success. For smaller organizations, have leaders discuss the critical business drivers so that new employees understand their role in business success and the bigger picture.

Allow ample time to cover the basics–and then some

Starting a new job can be stressful–even if in a good way. Cramming everything new employees need to know in a couple of long days may not be the best way to set them up for success. Onboarding begins with orientation but continues with much more than signing W2s and I9s. Consider how you can break up the day with different activities that have them moving around and meeting new people. Make the session fun and engaging with games and lots of interactive activities to get new employees learning about each other while also learning about the company.

Don’t omit delicate topics

While some may debate this suggestion, the truth is that transparency is a compelling trust builder. Employees quickly pick up whether they are hearing company speak or the real deal–especially new hires who come in with heightened awareness. The value in communicating sensitive business matters not only builds trust but also provides the perfect opportunity to invite new employees to become part of the solution.

  • If a pharmaceutical company is about to lose its most valuable patent…
  • If a tech company needs to increase revenue by x percent to avoid end-of-year layoffs…
  • If your latest employee survey reveals a decline in overall satisfaction and increased turnover…

Do this:

  • Explain the impact on the organization
  • Share the strategies in place intended to offset loss
  • Let new employees know what they can do to support strategic efforts
  • Invite them to problem-solve by adding new ideas to the mix

This may feel risky, given the importance of new employees believing they made the right decision to join the company. However, most people want to contribute in meaningful ways, above and beyond the routine of their day job. Authenticity keeps it real and demonstrates an inclusive company culture. It also assures new employees that there are multiple ways to add to organizational success. While they may new, it lets them know they have permission to contribute immediately.

Emphasize opportunities for growth and development

Employees of all ages and career stages want opportunities for growth and development. This is just one reason to put all new hires together instead of separating them by business or function. That’s precisely what Indeed’s onboarding program does to proactively build cross-functional relationships and collaboration from the start. Additionally, clearly communicate the selection process for training and development programs. Underscore the importance of all employees taking personal responsibility for ongoing development, whether seeking in-house offers or support for outside programming. Underscore the importance of all employees taking personal responsibility for continued growth, whether seeking in-house offerings or external programming. Finally, ask new employees what skills they are most interested in learning (hard or soft) and assign mentors based on those desires. This works even better if the new employee offers skills the mentor might want to strengthen.

Deliver what new hires want and need

Gallup finds that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. To improve the impact and new employee satisfaction, focus on giving them exactly what they want and need. All you need to do is ask. As part of the pre-onboarding process, ask them to complete a questionnaire so you can design a personalized experience for every new employee. It’s highly probable that the onboarding program already includes what new employees think they need. However, by asking them you can be sure that what you deliver is not only thorough but also communicates to new hires that the company truly cares about their opinion and onboarding experience.

Building a highly engaged corporate culture takes proactive expectation setting, management and delivery–and expectations go both ways. But the results speak for themselves. Gallup’s most recent employee engagement meta-analysis found that teams scoring in the top quartile on employee engagement saw higher profitability, productivity and employee retention. If a better employee onboarding strategy sets the stage by engaging new hires from the start, implementing even a few of these ideas can make all the difference.

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