10 Ways Onboarding Can Help Engagement

EE Engge OnBrd 210Long ago and far away, working in the hospitality industry, part of my job was conducting the Onboarding program. A group of enthusiastic, bright, and eager new hires would enter the training room. More times than I wish to count about midmorning, a security officer would enter the room and escort one or two of my attendees out of the room. Everyone was watching this activity, disengaging from the presentation. They were curious about what was going on, not about the program at that moment. Some people would understand what was happening. The new hires leaving had not passed their drug tests. A sense of gloom took the excitement and energy right out of the room. Is this any way to operate an On Boarding Program?


Yes, of course, pleading my case every week, I would convey the scenario and its destructive ambiance to the new hires to my boss. However, managers, in their desperation, to fill a seat with a body, would ignore the protocols and forge ahead with hiring. You may ask, “Wasn’t this expensive?” You bet it was, in more ways than just money. Working hard, I would get everyone back on track and lift their spirits. Unfortunately, the disengagement, was just at the beginning for these new hires. Where was the confidence in the way the organization handled business? Where was the honor for rules and regulations? Where was the respect for the feelings of those who were left and yes, for those who were led away? Let’s look at some better ideas for a for more successful onboarding process that gets employees engaged from the beginning.

  • Begin with Paperwork

To help streamline the onboarding process, have paperwork completed online before the first day of orientation. New hires are nervous and excited and can sometimes struggle with reading, understanding what box to check, their tax situation, and feel like failures if they forget a piece of ID or other forms of paperwork. Having this completed before hand allows the new hire to fully engage in the onboarding presentation and process.

  • Company Involvement

Get everyone involved in the new hire’s arrival, or even before if appropriate. Have your Executive Team come in and greet the new hires during the onboarding presentation. Putting an organizational chart in their new hire packet helps them place the Executive Team and exactly what they do in the organization. This helps engagement as it generates a sense of belonging.

  • Essential Locations

New hires need to feel comfortable with their surroundings, so arrange for a tour of the building and be sure to point out restrooms, the cafeteria, break rooms, security, etc. Awkward situations, or embarrassing moments can cause a new hire to withdraw and disengage. This is just the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

  • Job Descriptions

Have each manager briefly review the job hire’s job description. This can save a lot of discontent later. Be sure to let the new hire know that they will have input into their position description at the next review and be sue it gets accomplished. Having the manager engage in the new hire’s job description can help create a quick bond and understanding that helps increase engagement quickly.

  • Company Values

Onboarding is the perfect time to engage new hires in your company values. However, just reading organizational values doesn’t work. Explaining the importance of each value makes the difference between engagement and disengagement.  Your values need to be part of your culture.

  • Welcome and Instructional Email

Send an email before the new hire begins explaining what time they need to arrive, what to wear, and what time they will be leaving, especially if they will be leaving early the first week. In addition, address any work from home schedules. Include their agenda for the first week. This provides a high level of comfort, a feeling that the new hire is cared about and engagement will begin to grow.

  • Break Bread Together

Prepare and facilitate a breakfast or lunch for employees and the new hire. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Keep it causal. Team members can introduce themselves and explain what they do and even how the new hire and the team member will interact on projects.  Knowing who is who, what everyone does, and who they might turn to can create a strong sense of engagement that might otherwise take months to create.

  • Follow-Up

Follow-up with the new hire in a month or two to ensure that all is going smoothly. Make sure they are integrating into the team well and that they have all the resources they need. Again, this initiates a sense of caring and helps solidify engagement that began the first day.

  • The Buddy System

Match the new hire with a buddy for the first 90 days. If you use assessments during hiring, you will have an easy time make a good match. To have others engaged and invested in a new hire’s success speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to the success of a new hire.

  • Desk Ready

Make sure their desk is ready with equipment, computer sign on information, any security/safety concerns, and a list of people and numbers they need to have in case they have a need. Failing to do tis shows a lack of caring and disengagement can begin to ensue.

It doesn’t take a lot to create a good onboarding program, no matter how small your organization might be. Regardless of the size of the investment, it will pay dividends for years to come.

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