Employee engagement is integral to employee retention and can help cultivate a positive work culture. Unfortunately, it appears that people are less and less engaged, no matter where they work – in-office, remote or hybrid – according to research from Gallup. In fact, the study found that 85% of people aren’t engaged at work.
Engaging new hires is a specific section of employee engagement that can help with retention – but in a virtual-first world, you may be struggling with this.
Here are three effective ways to avoid turnover, disengagement and quiet quitting.
Use a buddy system
Most HR leaders know the importance of onboarding – research shows that a good onboarding process can improve employee retention by 82%. And yet, Gallup found that 88% of employees don’t think their company has a stellar onboarding program.
Using a “buddy system” when onboarding new hires can help take the pressure off of managers to pass on a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time and make sure that new employees feel supported beyond days one, two or three.
Pairing a tenured employee as a “buddy” for a new hire will help show them the ropes, share knowledge and get acclimated to the job. Buddy systems can be a great way for new employees to ask important questions that they may not feel comfortable asking a manager, from company lingo to unspoken office rules.
They can benefit the employer, the new hire and the seasoned employee by improving motivation and retention as well as increasing productivity and employee development.
McLean & Company has created a data-driven guide to help companies develop a buddy system for new hires. It included the following steps:
- Define responsibilities/expectations for the buddy
- Select a seasoned employee for a new hire using guidelines to ensure they are a good match (i.e., same or similar level and other common traits)
- Communicate with the selected veteran and share resources to help them prepare for their role
- Outline key tasks and responsibilities for both the buddy and manager to make sure onboarding is going as planned, and
- Evaluate the progress being made and re-assign buddies if needed
Organize events to help employees connect
Regardless of whether employees work remotely or in-office, team-building events or any chance to help co-workers connect with one another can help improve engagement.
West Monroe recently flew 240+ interns out for an in-person event after two years of virtual work. The event included networking opportunities, as well as conferences and presentations from clients and leaders in the company.
“Created with the intern at the forefront of the experience, we wanted to make the in-person experience memorable. After two summers of virtual work, we brought energy to our Chicago office – and it was positive all-around,” said Stephanie Scott, Campus Recruiting, Senior Manager at West Monroe. “We hope the event helped create a more holistic view of who we are as a firm and enhanced the internship program as a more unique experience. We wanted to stand out against our competitors and make it clear that we cared for our interns’ career growth and aspirations.”
Offering events – whether they are in-person or virtual – can help employees engage with not only company leaders but also with each other. “The in-person experience creates a space that encourages serendipitous connection, sharing of experiences and learning from one another,” said one graduate intern.
Finding unique ways to show your employees that you care and appreciate them can help employees feel more valued and therefore increase engagement. Although increasing engagement in a virtual-first world may seem difficult, there are many things you can do to help employees feel appreciated and supported, no matter where they are in the world.
“[Being a virtual-first company] doesn’t just mean letting people work from anywhere; it means investing in virtual culture to keep our employees connected. With our team spread out across the country – and the world – Employee Appreciation Week was an opportunity for everyone to come together, reconnect and have fun,” Clermont said.
For new people, Employee Appreciation Week helps give new hires a taste of Interactions’ culture, people and the company’s investment in employee experience. The week consisted of unique activities such as a virtual wine tasting, a houseplant care 101 class and even a virtual dog show. The week ended with “Interactions Day” – a “bonus company holiday to rest, have fun, reflect, be with family, friends –whatever makes [employees] happy.”
As Interactions moved to be virtual-first, they began building out employee engagement programs focused on communication, recognition, community and wellness. “These intentional pockets of connectivity go beyond appreciation to foster a culture of camaraderie and promote overall employee well-being,” said Clermont.