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Fast-track onboarding: engage employees before they begin

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13th May 2013
CEO Purple Cubed
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This article was written by Jane Sunley, CEO of Purplecubed.

Most of us have been there – a job offer is made, accepted and notice period worked. During this time the new employer sends a contract and details of where the new starter should go on day one. Then silence… very little, or no contact, is made until the new recruit turns up at 9am on their official start date.

Notice periods tend to be at least a couple of weeks; 14 days or more of the new employee steadily moving backwards down the excitement scale – from elation after accepting an amazing job, to interest upon reading the contract, wonder; what might the job entail until the nerves kick in, fear around the first day – where to go, who to ask for, will they like me, will I like them?

This, however, can be combatted by engaging the individual before they even walk through the front door. Employee engagement, or as we know it, ‘The Big E’, isn’t exclusive to existing employees. It can be considered and action taken from recruitment and selection stage. However, how many organisations actually do this?

In our experience, very few. Yet with the Corporate Leadership Council finding that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts, isn’t the pre-joining period the perfect opportunity to immerse the new recruit in the company, helping them understand what you’re all about and making them feel a valued member of the team?

We actively encourage organisations to take advantage of this time as it certainly reaps the rewards. Not only do they arrive on their first day raring to go, knowing what they’re expected to do, they’ll also be more likely to stay past the crucial first 100 days and more productive, achieving goals faster and, importantly, impacting the success of the business earlier.

So what can businesses do to make an individual feel engaged and involved from the outset?

Pre-joining activities should be fun, yet informative. Avoid overwhelming them by sending stacks of contracts and paperwork. It is time to dazzle them with what you are all about and the exciting new opportunities that they face – give them the wow factor. You want to show them that your company is the place to be, and just how special they are to be a part of it.

Here are our favourite three pre-joining tips:

1) Put together a well-thought-out induction plan

This lets people know you are thinking of them and planning for their arrival. It also takes away the fear of what they are going to be doing for the first few weeks and gives them a chance to do any research they may want to undertake. Make sure the induction is full of rich experiences, ones which will help them really get under the skin of the organisation. Include set times and the names of people who will be holding their sessions, including contact emails so they can get in touch before with any questions they may have.

Also include the legal stuff and a handbook providing information about the organisation, such as your values and culture and of course the ‘how we do things around here’. If you publish newsletters or business updates, give them the latest copies so they are up-to-date with recent activities and ventures. And if you have any social activities coming up, invite them along so they can meet their colleagues and feel a part of your business early on.

2) Give a pre-work challenge

Wouldn’t it be great to turn up on day one already having completed a task? Setting a challenge or project can help get the new recruit thinking and start achieving immediately. It needn’t be a massive undertaking, a simple exercise such as researching existing clients, writing a blog or their biography and emailing it around are all effective. The only caveat is to ask if this is ok first…

3) Set up a buddy system

Walking into your new employer can be a daunting part of starting a new job. To overcome this ask the new starter to nominate a buddy – either from reviewing the people page on the website or by looking through a list of employees at the company (for larger organisation, perhaps just within their department). This person should then meet the new recruit at a local coffee shop on their first day, have a general chat and ‘getting to know you session’ and then take them into their new place of work, introducing them to everyone.

The buddy would be responsible for making sure the social aspect is kept in place; lunch together, giving a tour of the local area, checking everything is ok, enabling the manager to concentrate on getting the individual ‘job ready’.

The time between when you have selected your new recruit to when they start provides a crucial opportunity in terms of engagement. By making people feel included and part of the team before they’ve begun you will gain their loyalty, commitment and devotion, which will equal achievement and success for everyone.

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