The word “engagement” continues to be prevalent in the workplace. Multiple companies have a primary business of helping organizations improve engagement. Numerous hours of research are dedicated to the topic, but according to Gallup, 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged. The reason is simple: Organizations are flying in coach, instead of upgrading to first class. They care more about a number from a survey and a recommended action plan than engaging the people who have decided to invest in them.
Have you ever ridden in first class for a long international flight? It is an amazing experience that starts from the moment you buy your first-class ticket. Everything is top-of-the-line. The communication from the airline is great; they work to ensure you feel valued, appreciated and respected. You rarely have to wait. The airline works to strip away all possible inconvenience. When you check your bags, you are in a special line. You board first and settle into your comfortable seats. The staff make you feel welcomed the moment you step on the plane. They open the gates to anything you want. The experience is so great, you never want to fly coach again.
This experience is comparable to organizations and the way they approach engagement. So many organizations want their employees to feel like working in their organization is like riding in first class, but they only want to spend the time and resources for a coach experience. The employees think they chose first class, only to feel like they receive a coach experience. As a result, their engagement quickly dwindles in their first year at the company. You can change this situation in three experiences.
Experience 1: Pre-Hire
The pre-hire experience is equivalent to what happens between purchasing a ticket and arriving at the airport. During this experience, communication is key, because the potential hire is making assumptions to see what kind of company he or she is interacting with. Does the company follow through on what it said it would? Does it keep its commitments? If the candidate calls to ask questions, does the company have answers, and does it treat him or her with kindness, respect and care? Are the interactions with the employees already in the organization a top-notch experience? From the hiring manager and his or her team, to the talent acquisition team, to the people in reception when the candidate comes in for an interview, does everyone have the same level of care and appreciation? If not, it is a red flag for the candidate and a red flag for your organization.
Work to ensure that this process creates a first-class experience by ensuring people know the importance of communication during this time. What are the common questions candidates ask? How can your company be proactive in answering these questions before they ask them to create a different type of experience for candidates? Work toward ensuring everyone in the process understands and owns his or her part in it. Help them develop the mindset that this is their business, so they want the candidate to have an amazing experience. Do some audits on your pre-hire experience, and look for opportunities to upgrade the candidate experience before moving on to orientation. If you don’t, you may be losing great candidates from the start.
Experience 2: Orientation
Many people think of orientation as a one-day information overload opportunity. However, orientation starts when a candidate accepts the offer and continues for as long as the company decides it should continue. Orientation is about helping the new employee understand the direction of the organization and how he or she can help in the experience. If the company provided a great pre-hire experience, it’s given the new employee a wonderful opportunity to go all-in and be a collaborative partner in the orientation process.
During this time, employees are looking for information without being overloaded. They want to learn about the journey they are going on with the organization. A common mistake companies make is to simply provide new hires with information instead of creating an experience for them to develop through learning.
Virgin Airlines understood the need for its customers to receive an experience, instead of information, in the safety orientation of its flights, so it changed flyers’ experiences with a video. Similarly, employers must think differently about how they help their new employees understand the vision and direction they will be helping the organization achieve. Be creative in this process, and have fun!
Experience 3: Onboarding
Onboarding is like the in-flight experience. It is an important opportunity to engage and keep people coming back and, unlike a flight, it never stops – it simply evolves. It is a continuous improvement experience that is different for each employee. It is during onboarding that communication styles for growth and development are learned. It is where reward and recognition techniques are discovered. It is where employees determine their loyalty to the organization, their leader and the people around them. They will invest at the level they are invested in.
Unfortunately, many hires are left to find their own answers – hence the 87 percent engagement statistic. Onboarding is an opportunity to engage and keep engaging. Invest in the employees who have made the choice to invest in your organization by providing them with unique interactions instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.
Achieving first-class engagement has nothing to do with a number. It is about treating people the way they want to be treated (not necessarily the way you want to be treated). It is about creating experiences and developing the mindset of taking care of others (not necessarily the way you want to be taken care of). Make engagement a living, breathing part of your organization with an action plan, and you will see changes in the way others invest through their engagement in your organization.