Creating an Engaging Program

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Any program you implement needs to be engaging. The purpose of employee onboarding is to engage employees from the beginning. Onboarding is more than simple checklists; it engages new hires in the company culture and promotes a highly functioning team. When onboarding is done correctly, employees are more engaged and productive.

Getting Off on the Right Track

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Trust and communication are essential to employee engagement. Both trust and communication need to be established from the beginning. A common mistake that companies make is to force days of information into a few hours during orientation. It is not humanly possible for people to take in everything, and it is boring. Long, dull orientations give the wrong impression. They imply that the employer is not capable of communicating information well. 

Classic orientations also erode trust because employees are not treated like individuals, and those leading the orientation are not sincere. Orientations often have a disinterested HR employee simply read off information. There is no real connection with new hires, which does little to improve engagement.


  • Break information down: Give new employees information in portions they can keep up with, and schedule this transfer of information for the first week instead of the first day. 
  • Build Relationships: Have established employees who are passionate about the job and good with people take new hires through their orientation.

Role of Human Resources

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The role of human resources will be unique to each organization. HR, however, has an important role in the onboarding process. HR representatives need to establish trust and communicate effectively with new hires.

Typical HR Roles:

  • Welcome: Provide a welcome package and make individuals feel welcome.
  • Documentation: Help employee’s complete any and all necessary paperwork. 
  • Policies: Explain company policies and procedures.
  • Benefits: Explain benefits and enroll new hires.
  • Tour: Provide a tour of the company.

Role of Managers

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Managers need to oversee the onboarding of new hires. They typically spend more time with employees than HR personnel, so it is important to establish a positive relationship from the beginning.

Typical Manager Roles:

  • Prepare: Prepare the workstation, welcome, introductions, etc.
  • Schedule: Create checklists and schedule training.
  • Communicate: Explain roles and expectations to everyone.
  • Meet: Connect with new hires and meet frequently to discuss their training.
  • Assign: Choose a mentor and assign tasks to new hires.


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There are certain characteristics that engaged employees share. As employees engage in the culture, they will exhibit these traits. Engagement is a sign that the onboarding program is successful and that new employees will stay for the long-term. 

Basic Characteristics of Engagement:

  • Enjoy work: Engaged employees enjoy their work. They are not simply working for a paycheck.
  • A good attitude: They work towards the goals, and enjoy challenges and opportunities.
  • Go the extra mile: Engaged employees do more than the minimum. They are committed to success. 

Case Study

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The Good Song Company had a problem with retention. Employees seemed to leave shortly after they were trained. 50 percent left after the second year, and 20 percent left after the first year. Surveys showed that employees were not very engaged with the company. The basic orientation with HR lasted for four hours and consisted of reading the manual and signing documents. Managers were given the authority to onboard employees at their discretion. The onboarding process changed so that orientation with HR took place over a week. Managers turned in checklists every week. Over the next year, only 10 percent of the new hires left.