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Employee engagement: The Cost of doing nothing

Kathy MoeningSeptember 28, 2017Employee Communication

Utopia is a nice place. Especially in the human capital management space. If I lived there as a candidate, I'd reach out to an organization, they'd carefully review my resume and application, then let me know if they're interested in a timely manner. I'd meet with a well-informed interviewer who contacts me before the interview with details on what to expect, and after with feedback. If I was lucky enough to get the job, then I'd be introduced to the team, my desk would be ready for me, and I'd know what to expect before I even walked through the door on my first day.

Unfortunately, utopia is hard to find here in the US. It's way more likely that a new employee will struggle connecting to their recruiters, struggle through the hiring process, and then get dumped unceremoniously into the hiring managers lap with no desk, no laptop, and no clue.

As an employee, I want to be successful. At the very least, I don't want to screw anything up for my team or the company. If I feel like I don't have a chance at doing either, then I'm out the door.

90% of employees decide whether they'll stay at an organization, or leave, in the first six months. 4% of new hires don't even bother showing up for the first day, and that can be tied directly to their experiences, or lack thereof, during the hiring process. New employees want to feel engaged with the organization and assured that they made the right decision.

As the employer, if you sit and do nothing, things get expensive. Fast. Gallup's most recent State of the American Workplace report states that only 33% of employees in the US are engaged at work. That means that 33% of your workforce:

Those in the 33% are your money makers. They're your brand advocates. Your employees willing to go the extra mile for clients, prospects, and coworkers. The remaining 67% of your workforce aren't. Disengaged employees cost the U.S. somewhere between $450 and $550 billion in lost productivity per year, and they're the overwhelming majority.

Lost productivity isn't the only cost though. Disengaged employees are more likely to quit an organization, and hiring new employees adds to the overall financial strain. We all know that it takes a significant amount of time and effort to vet and hire qualified candidates, but according to the Center for American Progress, the cost of that time and effort boils down to 16- 213% of annual salary depending on education and qualifications. Every moment a position goes unfilled, you lose money. Every time the employee in that position disengages for extended periods of time, you lose money.

So how do we stop hemorrhaging cash? Simple. By keeping employee engagement and the employee experience top-of-mind. Engagement starts with recruiting and should continue consistently throughout the employee's journey with the organization. You can do that by following these three key steps:

1. Keep your employer brand consistent

Our friends at Symphony Talent say it best. Your Employer Brand is a promise to your candidates, and you need to keep that promise. Whether you're calling, texting, emailing or tweeting are you providing a clear and consistent message? Does your organization hold up to the promises made in those messages past the recruitment phase?

If not, you need to reexamine the way you're presenting yourself to the market (your candidates and employees) and adjust accordingly. If you stay true to your brand and make honest promises, your future employees will have a smoother transition and current employees will stick around longer.

2. Make it easy to stay engaged

Your hiring process is a reflection of your organization. If things are complicated, confusing, or frustrating, your candidates and new hires will disengage and question their decision to continue. Make it as easy as possible to stay involved during the hiring and onboarding process. Provide candidates and new hires with a centralized location to interact with your organization. Automate tasks, processes, communications and reminders to keep your organization top of mind. Make sure everything is mobile for their convenience, and trackable for HR's.

3. Arm them with the information that they actually care about

Stale and standardized government forms are a necessary evil, but they do nothing to help new hires prepare for their roles or develop deeper ties to your company. New employees need to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of their new position to feel confident about moving forward, and engaged with the organization. Your onboarding program should answer all of these questions and then some.

  • Where do they need to be and when?
  • Who will they be meeting with and what can they expect during those meetings?
  • How are they going to fit in the organization, their department, and their team?

Providing this level of detail shows new hires that you're invested in their success, and allows them to show up that first day eager, prepared, and ready to contribute. If you continue the onboarding process through the first 8 months of employment, you can see increased retention, long-term engagement, and overall productivity.

The three steps above help build the foundation that allows new hires to feel confident in their decision to work with you, comfortable with their team and expectations of their role, and cared for as they begin their journey with your organization. These new hires will become brand advocates that share their amazing experiences with future employees, and the positive relationships that they develop will improve retention and productivity. What you're left with is an engaged workforce willing to go the extra mile to ensure the success of the organization.

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