Employee Engagement Programs
Company Culture

Let’s not beat around the bush here: there are few things more important in the workplace today than employee engagement. Why? When organisations have effective employee engagement programs, they report higher levels of productivity and an increase to their bottom line.

Not only that, a work environment where employees feel engaged results in better retention rates. Put simply, it becomes far easier to hold onto your top talent.

Engagement: What it is and what it isn’t

A few misconceptions exist around the idea of employee engagement. Most notably, “engagement” often gets confused with “job satisfaction”. But they are not the same things.

All staff who are engaged will be satisfied with their jobs. However, an employee can still be satisfied but not engaged in a job. A person who isn’t particularly pushed or challenged in their work, but who still picks up a decent salary with a few perks thrown in, won’t modify or improve their performance. 

They don’t need to, so why would they? 

And such employees are unlikely to be adding any real value to an organisation.

Engagement is about much more than a worker simply feeling content in their present position. It’s the extent to which an employee buys into what a company is trying to do, and how personally involved they feel in its success.

Businesses who can develop and sustain an engaged workplace create something greater and more powerful than the sum of all its parts.

The bad news is that you won’t find a perfect ready-made employee engagement program on the internet or off the shelf. It’s vital that your approach is specifically tailored to the individual needs of your organisation and all its nuances.

The good news is that there are a set of key principles to factor into your planning to help you create the ultimate program. Here they are:

A candidate becomes engaged before they become an employee

The recruitment process is where employee engagement truly begins. Yes, even before a candidate becomes an employee. It’s here a company needs to highlight its Employee Value Proposition clearly. Employees are the new customers, after all.

It’s also here that a business has a genuine opportunity to discover whether a candidate is really of the calibre that the organisation needs.

Of course, education, experience and expertise have their place – but qualifications can be studied for and skills can be taught. Attitude and application cannot. People can be trained and taught on the job to do most things – but you cannot change what makes them tick.

Interview questions/tasks that assess a candidate’s emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament are more useful than ones that merely assess a skill set.

Top tip: Look to hire characteristics, behaviours and attitude over skills and experience.

The importance of performance management and setting goals 

Individuals who are empowered are employees that are engaged. This means that it’s vital for staff to have a clear understanding of expectations. Once this clarity is achieved, employees should be allowed to set their own goals. Autonomy is one of the key drivers of human motivation and setting goals in this way inspires commitment and ownership.

Top tip: Have high expectations but encourage goals to be realistic. It’s easy to build on small successes, but it’s far more difficult to build on massive failures or missed targets.

Networking: How to share ideas and insights within an organisation

Never underestimate the value of a well-networked team. When employees have the opportunity to share ideas and exchange insights, the organisation’s whole perspective is broadened. People will feed off the ideas of others and feel inspired.

The culture of the organisation needs to be one of listening as you are speaking. Internal and external networks need to thrive to enable multi-way conversations to take place.

Top tip: Give employees opportunities to network online and offline

Communication and connection are the keys to success

How successfully managers and leaders communicate with staff is the cornerstone of successful employee engagement programs. The best managers know their staff inside-out and understand their personalities and motivations.

But the extent to which managers connect with their teams is often down to their own authenticity and transparency. If staff feel that managers are authentic, it really builds trust and galvanizes a team.

It’s crucial that all managers are seen to be communicating and reinforcing a company’s mission and vision on a day-to-day basis.

Top tip: Managers must walk the talk!

Where do you start with employee engagement?

There is plenty of inspiration to be found from the ways that some of the biggest names in business have engaged their employees. Google, famously, introduced its ‘20% Time’ – essentially an opportunity for employees to devote a day a week working on projects that they thought would most benefit the company.

Similarly, LinkedIn cancels meetings to enable staff to work on individual projects or to attend external training. Employees are also encouraged to pitch ideas to the boardroom.

Successful employee engagement programs tend to think outside the box – but it’s important to recognise that what matters is what is going on in and out of ‘your box’your company.

Whatever initiatives are implemented – or rewards offered – they need to demonstrate that the organisation has its fingers on the pulse of employee needs.

And you should never assume you know what your employees think or want – you need to ask them.

Ultimately though, employee engagement programs are not just about having ideas or a shared vision. Creating the correct conditions and having the right tools in place to execute and apply your program are of fundamental importance too. Only when all these aspects are covered will genuine employee engagement occur.

Retain valuable employees
Employee Retention

The face of successful companies are CEOs who know exactly how to navigate their way through the dizzying world of entrepreneurship. Their success stories make it to the front pages and are printed in bold as inspiring headlines for the masses to see. But in truth, the most successful businesses are built on the backs of their employees.

CEOs recognize that high rates of customer churn are a cause for concern, but they rarely talk about employee turnover rates. Workers who do not feel fulfilled or properly compensated leave organizations to seek better career paths. And sometimes, the most competent members of the team take the exit. When this happens, it leaves your company at a great disadvantage.

To keep valuable employees, take note of our tips and consider making changes to your business.

Build a Conducive Work Environment

A good work environment goes beyond providing a fancy office to toil within. Building a conducive workplace includes creating an environment top team members can thrive as they work towards the organization’s goals. This also includes creating a safe environment for all workers.

Having a professional, but nurturing and stimulating workplace compels employees to stay – even when they experience a lapse in motivation. What’s more, productivity, performance, and engagement increase when workers don’t have to worry about things like discrimination or harassment.

Brush up on anti-discrimination laws and make an effort to place internal safeguards for your employees. You’ll also want to hold team building activities to raise camaraderie. This will help forge a genuine human bond between colleagues that will aid in effective communication. Also, have a hard look at your current company culture and make adjustments based on the core values you desire. It sounds simple, but these aspects, together with providing a pleasant and organized physical space, will result in decreased turnover.

Encourage Discourse

People who are on top of the chain usually get there through the right combination of hard work, determination, and luck. The gruelling journey makes it tempting to highlight hierarchical differences as a constant incentive for climbing up the ladder. But companies that are grounded on this kind of thinking always end poorly with declining productivity and a stifling culture.

Apart from maintaining an environment with equal amounts of respect for all employees, companies should also promote a healthy exchange of ideas between bosses and subordinates.

In practice, this means giving employees the freedom to logically question business models, strategies, and managerial decisions – without repercussions. Those who communicate their ideas are likely those who have the most concern for your business and would like to see it flourish for years to come.

Encouraging discourse will benefit your team members by cultivating their critical thinking abilities, which will, in turn, benefit your company with a steady supply of fresh ideas.

Recognize Hard Work

There are people who only do exactly as they are told, and there are those who will go the extra mile. Clearly, it’s not right to treat them the same way, so make an effort to recognize exemplary efforts appropriately by offering promotions, company stocks, a salary increase, or even simple praise them in public. Make it a point to let your most valuable employees know that their efforts are appreciated. Although it seems simple, praise and recognition go a long way to sustain employees’ drive and reduce their propensity to leave.

Employees who feel as though they are treated as assets are less likely to leave, and are compelled to do better when they realize their employers are helping them grow as professionals. To do this, present them with suitable internal opportunities. Invest in training, show them the ropes to related aspects of the business, and find ways to maximize their potential.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Even the most competitive benefits and salaries are sometimes not enough to keep employees.

While it’s true that money is a major deciding factor for staying in a company, if your employees don’t have enough free time to enjoy their rewards, it can all amount to nought.

Employees need to have a life outside of work, meaning your demands shouldn’t rob your workers of time and energy for other things. Promoting work-life balance is a must to prevent burnout and ultimately keep your team members happy. Organize company outings, keep the workload reasonable, and embrace individual working styles.

Let Go of Dead Weight

Finally, retaining valuable employees also comes down to weeding out those who bring the team down. Negativity is highly contagious and could influence even the most valuable workers. Let go of employees with a bad work ethic, who spread gossip, or interfere with the work of their colleagues. Although it definitely isn’t be easy to lay off some members of the team, doing so is an ultimately advantageous to the stronger performers and steers the whole company in the right direction with the right people.

All in all, retaining valuable employees boils down to how you treat members of your team: remember they are human and not just mere tools to move your business forward.

New Hire Checklist Template

Congratulations if you’ve just employed a new team member! To ensure your employee’s start is seamless, we’ve prepared a new hire checklist template to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

There’s a lot to consider when onboarding a new employee, but if you have a good process, like the new hire checklist template here, you can minimize the stress (and demonstrate that you and your organization are on top of your HR!)

Get the New Hire Checklist Template here (it’s free)

Download the New Hire Checklist Template now…

Get this template in Word format to customise it for your organisation. Create a real checklist you can use for your next new hire.

This new hire checklist is broken into sections by the timing…

New Hire Checklist – 1 Month Before Starting

  • Send offer letter
  • Send employment contract
  • Provide details of start date (+ time and address for place of work)
  • Order any equipment the employee will need (eg computer, desk, phone, etc)
  • Order any supplies the employee will need (eg business cards, uniforms, etc)

New Hire Checklist – 1 Week Before Starting

  • Send welcome letter and employee handbook (include their arrival time, address and map, parking / public transport, dress code, and plan for their first day)
  • Enter employee records in your HR system – including their name, address, contact details, position, start date, compensation, etc.
  • Send a new hire announcement message to the company announcing the new hire’s start date and encouraging everyone to welcome them onboard
  • Set up the employee’s office space
  • Create an email address for the employee
  • Arrange computer and software system login details
  • Select and notify an onboarding buddy to welcome the new hire (or their direct manager can also perform this role)
  • Create a plan for the employee’s first week – arrange for them to spend time with key people or departments
  • Set date and reminder for probation period and review

New Hire Checklist – Day One

  • Welcome new employee
  • Show them to their working area and ensure they have everything they need
  • Give the employee any equipment they need and explain the policies related to those (key card, phone, etc)
  • Introduce the employee to their onboarding buddy
  • Give the employee an orientation tour of the office (be sure to show them restrooms, kitchen, parking, office supplies, etc)
  • Review job duties and expectations
  • Tell them how success is defined in their role
  • Ensure employee can access their email and other core systems (chat, project management, role-specific systems)
  • Collect details and paperwork from the employee (eg tax forms, bank account details, other details needed for your HRIS)
  • Explain the plan for the employee’s first week and discuss with them
  • Ensure employee has submitted all forms and information for payroll
  • Explain how the timing of payroll works and any other compensation
  • Explain any other benefits (eg insurance, bonuses, perks to take advantage of, etc)

New Hire Checklist – Week One

  • Encourage the employee to send out an introductory message to the company (show them past examples to reduce the stress of this)
  • Get to know the immediate team – perhaps a team lunch or introductory meeting where each team member gets to explain their role and talk about themselves
  • Go over the employee handbook
  • Review other relevant company policies (eg code of conduct, safety policy, etc)
  • Assign any required reading / training
  • Introduce the employee to other departments & explain how the company works
  • Introduce the employee to senior executives
  • Overview upcoming key company projects
  • Assign the employee their first goal or project/s
  • Ensure employee is aware of key upcoming dates, social events, etc
  • Check in with employee every day during their first week – ensure they meet with key people and everything is working fine
  • Setup weekly 1:1 meetings with the new hire’s direct manager

New Hire Checklist – Month One

  • Review progress on their first goal or project/s
  • Check employee payroll is running smoothly
  • Conduct an informal performance review
  • Give more of an overview of the company, including the mission and vision, company values, key milestones, company goals, etc
  • Discuss how the employee’s role fits into the bigger picture – revisit the job duties and expectations of the role, and especially, the success metrics
  • Discuss and set next projects and goals
  • Invite employee to connect on company social media accounts
  • Get employee set up with company training sessions

New Hire Checklist – 3-6 Months

  • Conduct probationary performance review
  • Discuss and set new projects and goals
  • Discuss career development plan
  • Schedule next performance review
  • Collect feedback from employee on onboarding process

Some HRIS systems (including HR Partner) also allow you to create onboarding checklists / new hire checklists within the software. These are great because you can include all the documentation and tasks that you want your new hire to go through (eg watching a certain video, uploading files, reading files, etc). Here’s how to create a new hire checklist in HR Partner.

Whether you use a manual new hire checklist template or an onboarding checklist that’s incorporated into your HR system, the philosophy is the same: ensure your new hire has everything they need to have the best chance of succeeding in your organization.

Don’t forget to download this new hire checklist template so that you can customize it to suit your organization’s needs. It’s one more way you can look like the professional HR manager that you are!