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New Hires: How to Foster Higher Employee Engagement Levels

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Here a few ideas from our work with companies around the country for encouraging employee engagement in new employees:

  • Invite their spouse for a walk-through/tour of the company offices.
  • Send the spouse a letter welcoming them to the organization, and include how proud you are to have their partner as an employee.
  • Give your new employee a mentor to work with for at least the first 6 months. This should be a senior person in the organization (outside of HR) who can informally convey the behavioral norms of the company.  There is NO OTHER MORE EFFECTIVE TOOL to enhance a new hire’s success than getting this type of mentor.
  • Consider a peer mentor as well — someone to help them with the day to day logistical issues like log-ons, parking, restaurants, office supplies etc.
  • Focus on the Big Picture as well as the tactical action steps that will no doubt be added by others.  What do I mean by the Big Picture?  Creating an enduring felt-sense of safety and connection for that employee with the organization.

So let’s consider for a moment what we know about the human experience of starting work for a new employer.  For most employees, this is their most aspirational state of mind related to hope for a better workplace experience, engagement, a new beginning, etc. They have received a lot of attention (typically) in the hiring process, including meeting senior level managers or executives as well as their peers on the team.

Contrast this with what happens AFTER they have been hired. Without a mentor they are now left on their own.  They won’t ask their immediate manager all of their questions (for a host of reasons — primarily related to a lack of felt safety) so they begin to feel isolated and on their own to figure out the norms of behavior in the new culture.

This is in large part why ENGAGEMENT TENDS TO TRAIL DOWNWARD AFTER JUST A FEW WEEKS AND MONTHS ON THE NEW JOB as their aspirations smack against the reality of their new situation.  This is exactly why assigning a senior level person as a mentor is so powerful.  By the way, be VERY careful in selecting these mentors — they need to be highly engaged and SAFE (warm, open social skills, high EQ, etc). 

BEST PRACTICES TIP:  Assign a mentor to new hires, quite possibly the most effective tool available to increase their chances of success and to nurture their engagement on the job.

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Don Rheem’s presentation on Employee Engagement gets underneath the real “whys” on the behavior of discretionary effort. I found his examples to be relative and understandable. I see how our leaders are making better connections with the hearts of our people, so everyone better understands the goals of the enterprise.

--Peter Rittenhouse, Director of Supply Chain
Nestle Waters
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