Employee engagement starts on day one

Feb 15 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Organisations that fail to train their managers in how to hire people or make no effort to make them feel part of the family once they join are more likely to lose out when it comes to employee engagement, motivation and productivity.

A study of the HR practices at 50 large U.S firms by consultancy Watson Wyatt Worldwide found significant differences in financial performance and employee engagement between companies that focus on the details of how they hire, orientate and integrate new recruits and those that do not.

Nearly two thirds of companies with a highly engaged workforce provided interview training for managers, against a third companies with a less engaged workforce.

Those with highly engaged workers also spent more time in preparing workers for their new jobs.

They took an average of 35 weeks to bring a new hire up to speed, compared with 15 weeks for those with lower levels of engagement.

Its study links back to other research by the consultancy suggesting a strong correlation between an efficient recruiting and integration process, employee engagement and financial performance.

A recent study of 12,000 U.S workers, for instance, found that the financial performance of organisations was strongly related to employee engagement.

For the typical S&P 500 organisation, a significant improvement in employee engagement was associated with a $95 million increase in revenue.

A Watson Wyatt study of 147 employers in 2005 also suggested that firms that fill vacancies within about one month generally financially outperformed those that took longer.

"Few things are more important to a company's long-term performance than choosing the right employees and ensuring they have the proper outlook from day one," said Watson Wyatt organisation effectiveness expert Ilene Gochman.

"As a result, employers should view the recruitment and orientation process as an opportunity, not as a burden. Preparing employees for their new roles and communicating how they can help the firm meet its goals can go a long way toward determining whether new employees ultimately succeed," she added.

"Implementing effective recruiting and orientation programs is generally very cost-effective," she continued.

"In addition, it is not terribly difficult to make change in this area. The main requirement is to focus on improving communication, both to managers who do the hiring and to new employees themselves," she advised.

A key technique for improving worker engagement in this area was simply to explain to new employees why they were hired.

More than half of high financial performers said they did this, against 29 per cent of low performers.

"Sharing with new hires the attributes that drew the company to them is an easy and meaningful way to begin a productive relationship. It gives new employees an immediate tie to the company and a clear understanding of how their skills can be used productively at their new place of employment," said Gochman.