Employee engagement is a sensitive subject in Minnesota right now. The 2013 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report – Report – just listed Minnesota as the state with the lowest percentage of engaged workers, only 26%. It isn’t much better for the rest of the U.S. with only 30% of employees describing themselves as actively engaged with their work. 52% are not engaged and 18% are actively disengaged!
I had the opportunity for over 5 years to coordinate the new employee orientation program for a large regional organization with over 18,000 employees. I know from those weekly Monday morning orientations that people start out highly engaged. They are curious, ready to work, and enthused about starting their new job at their new organization. We have engaged workers and they become disengaged. As leaders, we need to start at the beginning to change how our people feel about their work and help them stay engaged in their work.
In 2010 the Society for Human Resource Management released a report summarizing research on high quality onboarding practices, employee engagement and employee success. The report describes four levels of onboarding activities (SHRM report);
Organizations that include culture and connection in their onboarding activities end up with higher levels of employee engagement long-term, and leaders can do that!
The SHRM report highlights the important role you, the hiring manager, plays in proactively sharing knowledge of your culture and facilitating the social integration of your new team members to keep their first day excitement high. Describing your organization’s unique values, language and even acronyms helps your new team members navigate the culture successfully and find their place. Helping them learn “how things are done” in your institution and the norms of behavior will increase their confidence and competence. You can support their social adjustment by introducing them to key players and organizational “insiders” early in their new job. Social activities, personal connections, providing a “buddy” or mentor and planning meetings with other stakeholders all are ways you can reinforce the social comfort and acceptance of new team members.
By focusing on culture and connection leaders can capture that first day excitement and preserve the engagement that our new employees bring with them to our organizations.