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Reimagining our onboarding for ultimate employee engagement

25 March 2024

This article first appeared in HR Grapevine written by, Philomena Gray, Global Chief People Officer.

How an employee feels about their journey with their employer is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent, boosting engagement and - as a result - improving productivity. Following recent trends such as the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, 2024 research from LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index survey found that close to half of U.S. workers plan to look for a new job this year.

The employee experience journey includes everything from finding talent to onboarding, training and development, and more. Its goal is to keep employees engaged in the moments that matter. By building processes, procedures, and an overall experience, managers and HR leaders can ensure that employees have a better time from the get-go.

At Imagination, we have created processes that have overhauled our onboarding program. By identifying the key moments and removing the pain points, which of course are different for individuals at different times, you can make the onboarding process work for everyone.

Businesses must align their entire process to ensure that the employee experience journey is positive from start to finish. From onboarding and providing a positive first impression of the company, to offboarding and ensuring that your future ambassadors are singing your praises, every touch point of the employee experience journey is equally important as the next.

So, how can businesses ensure a seamless employee experience?

The initial united approach

Employees talk and share their experiences. So, a united global approach to onboarding is crucial to ensuring that everyone receives the same experience. Onboarding is an important part of the employee experience journey because it establishes the first impression of the company, which should be positive. If some employees have had a different and less effective onboarding process, which may have been harder or less enjoyable, they may feel hard done by and resent their colleagues or employer.

By utilising available platforms to automate and streamline the back-end process, HR leaders can ensure seamless onboarding for new staff. From the offer going out to contracts being signed and personal profiles being established, giving new starters consistent integration into a business sets the right tone for positive employment.

Employee interaction and becoming part of the company culture

Individuals can begin to interact with the company before joining by providing a seamless process. For example, all the onboarding admin that has to be undertaken is completed ahead of day one! Sharing insight into the company ahead of day one means our new employee understands us and starts to understand where they will fit in, making their first day a much more enjoyable and productive experience.

It’s encouraging for new joiners to have spoken with both the teams they will be working with and the people in charge of their progression, ahead of joining the company. Fitting in with a team culturally and developing good relationships during the onboarding process is key to providing a positive employee experience and ensuring engagement.

The onboarding plan

Built into our platform is an onboarding plan. All our new employees have a view of what they’re going to be doing in their first few weeks at Imagination. This covers meeting key individuals, an overview of tasks expected from them, and an introduction to their business.

In this plan, we establish regular one-to-one catch-ups with their managers and a formal review is booked in after three and then six months. This helps everyone stay aligned on objectives, on track to succeed and gives everyone the chance to provide invaluable feedback. If anything needs to be addressed, this plan helps managers take proactive actions against identified issues.

The final step of our onboarding process is to discuss and set formal goals with new employees. At Imagination, we want staff to be clear on expectations and priorities. We base these on aiding personal growth and development while also enabling employees to deliver on their professional goals too.

Having these actionable objectives and goals helps everyone involved in the employee experience. From the top down, managers can get the most out of their team and feel comfortable that their feedback is helping staff grow. And the newer joiners have something clear to work towards, which will help them develop and progress within the company.

The ultimate engagement

Our onboarding plan, from the initial interaction and creating a feeling of unity, to setting objectives and driving individual growth and development, is designed to create the ultimate engagement.

Keeping employees engaged from the interview to the end of their time with the company, helps us promote a culture of enabling excellence, which benefits both the individuals involved and the wider business. Investing in engagement is profitable company-wide as disengaged employees can cost organisations around $450-550 billion each year.