Crafting an Employee Experience Program
How Onboarding Creates Success
Think about your company. More specifically, think about the overall mentality. Is it a place full of innovation? Are employees free and able to question the status quo? Are the employees described as experts, free thinkers, and collaborators? Is learning embraced? Are employees heard? Are the leaders exhibiting a fervent belief in the company’s mission and do they inspire employees? Is the technology and physical environments conducive to communication, collaboration, and productivity?
These are all descriptors of an expertly-crafted employee experience program.
What is employee experience? The definition of employee experience is really in the eye of the beholder as each employee experiences events differently. Thinking about it in another way, it’s a series of experiences that happen during the employee life cycle.
With that knowledge in mind, how do HR professionals create their own employee experience program?
Companies that have created their own EX program or have been successful at deploying their programs usually begin with a start-up mentality. Some come to it easy, while others struggle.
Kelly Kuras is the Senior Manager of Global Talent for one of the United States’ largest automakers. She says her company was forced to adopt the mindset after the automotive industry crisis struck between 2008 and 2010.
“We were given the grace of this period of time where it was obvious nothing we were doing was working," Kuras said. "So, how do we do it differently and that really started to give us an innovative startup mentality of 'Why not? What do you have to lose? You already lost, so what do you got to lose?' We lost our fear of being perfect."
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Kuras' company isn't the only company that's had to embrace the start-up mentality. General Electric has done the same. At first, it was not an easy concept to embrace because, historically, change hasn’t been seen as a good thing. However, the company is now experimenting, taking more risks, and quickly recovering from their failures when they happen.
At the heart of this is the workforce.
One of the first experiences an employee has within a company is the onboarding experience. Keep in mind, a company never gets a second chance to make a first impression. The key is making sure new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to take on the responsibilites of work.
To do this, adjust the onboarding experience to focus on familiarity, simplicity, and culture, while making it personal for each new hire.
We’ve all been new to something in our lives. Examples include joining a new team in your favorite sport, going to a new school, or marriage. Think about how one feels in that situation. Feelings of disconnection, self-doubt, and nervousness are good examples.
The first order of business for a new hire must be creating an environment of familiarity.
Do this by having new hires greeted by the person(s) the individual interviewed with during the candidate phase. Consider creating a ‘who’s who’ area on your company intranet. Include photos, names, and titles. A similar offline approach is functional as well. Something like a simple bulletin board with staff pictures, names, and positions for instance.
Want more EX resources? Download: Translating Brand Promises into Employee Behaviours
These all sound rather elementary, but it could help avert an embarrassing situation such as a new hire asking a stranger to help with an employer-issued mobile device, only to learn later that person was the CEO.
Cinemark, uses employees to keep each other engaged and to positively impact the employee experience. Each new employee is assigned a ‘buddy.’ This allows the new employee to feel a familial connection to their new company right out of the gate.
Onboarding can be an uncertain time for a new hire. Add to that the complexity of the process and a new employee can be overwhelmed on their very first day.
The process should be fun, interesting, painless, and simple.
One way to do this would be to post schedules, materials, benefit forms, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the company on the company intranet. Provide new hires with a direct link to these items.
By providing these to the new hire before the individual’s first day, you eliminate a portion of their “new job jitters” and prepare the employee to start employment in a strong way.
When starting a new job with a different employer, the cultural learning curve is huge. Not knowing the rules, benefits, nuances, and traditions can leave a new hire feeling out of place. Don’t make that person learn these important items the hard way.
For instance, if your company observes a ‘Casual Friday’ rule, let the new hire know before they show up to work dressed in a suit.
Make sure the new employee knows what benefits and perks the company offers. Again provide links to these documents via email and post them in visible locations. Verbal mentions are a good thing, but remember, it can easily be forgotten as the new employee will be experiencing information overload during the onboarding process. Likewise, physical copies of this information are helpful, but it can be lost in the shuffle of documents a new hire procures during the first week.
It’s important to make sure the new hire feels prepared and included as a member of the company culture.
It’s easy to make the first day all about paperwork. In fact, it’s normal to do so. Don’t be normal.
The filling out of some paperwork is necessary on the first day, but consider having the new hire fill it out before arriving for Day 1. If you have to fill out paperwork on Day 1, keep it to a minimum, and allow the person to fill out the remaining documents online after they’ve settled into their new job.
Make Day 1 about building relationships and making that personal connection with co-workers and the company. As stated earlier, first impressions will have an enormous impact on the employee’s experience.
Onboarding can easily be one of the best experiences or worst experiences of your new employee’s life cycle with the company. When reviewing the strategy a company uses to onbaord, it should be noted, as evidenced previously, the internet can be the most powerful tool an HR professional can use. A web-based strategy allows professionals to coordinate and monitor every step of the process while addressing the challenge of making new hires feel welcome, valued, and prepared.
An accepted paradigm in the HR space is that a company providing a great employee experience will see the customer experience improve as well. As Richard Branson says, “if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”
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