Employee engagement is not just a buzzword; it’s an important aspect of building a strong team. When employees are actively engaged in their work they tend to be more productive, happy, and treat customers better. Oftentimes, this attitude comes along when a new employee is hired and begins work. The first few days and weeks in a new job can be an exciting time for a new hire. The experience is new, there are interesting things to learn, and tasks to perform. Why is it then that new hires often change their perspective and start heading in the wrong direction?
Studies have shown that poor employee engagement is a big problem. A Gallup poll indicated that 51% of the American workforce is not engaged. The Engagement Institute released a report that indicated the cost of having disengaged employees is somewhere between $450 and $550 billion per year. It’s nothing to ignore.
Many new hires do not get the experience they have expected. The application and interviewing process may be challenging. Then, once they are hired, employees discover that the advertised culture of the company is not at all what they are encountering. The onboarding process is nothing more than a “sink-or-swim” activity. There may be no clear direction as to what they need to learn, how they can become proficient in a new role, or even how to connect with peers. These new hires quickly become confused and disengaged.
Why is it important that a positive candidate experience continues into employment?
The solution to improving employee engagement is by creating a positive employee experience that will endure throughout the employee’s career with your company. This does not mean creating singular campaigns that focus narrowly on a few positive changes. Deloitte points out improving the overall experience for all employees, “builds on the foundation of culture and engagement to focus on the employee experience holistically, considering all the contributors to worker satisfaction, engagement, wellness, and alignment.” This is often referred to as a recruitment-to-retirement plan.
With this in mind, the positive experience that candidates have when they first encounter your recruitment team speaks volumes about the kind of culture your company has. Candidates are intuitive. They can tell when a recruiter is being sincere or not. They can observe the attitudes and behaviors of employees when they meet to talk about employment opportunities. They can do a great deal of research ahead of time by reading company review websites and asking their networks about the company. It doesn’t take much for a candidate to find out the job or the company has a problem with employee unhappiness.
What can you do as an employer to improve the candidate experience?
For starters, take the time to review your current application, screening, interviewing, and onboarding processes. Approach it through the perspective of a candidate.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published four tips for improving the candidate experience, which we found to be quite useful. Below are a summation of these tips, which your organization can start implementing immediately.
Tip #1 - Marketing of the Company
Don’t assume that candidates know the brand messaging for your company. Recruiters should share what the company stands for, the opportunities it offers, and employee testimonials. This should take place everywhere the company spends time marketing, like social networks and more. Recruitment marketing is important, and it's effective.
Tip #2 - Candidate Video Education
Videos are super popular with all candidates, and therefore, every company should be producing culture-reveal videos on a regular basis. Educating and giving insight about the company and its contributions can create a positive experience for candidates. One cool idea: create a video on interviewing success and what to expect in the hiring process!
Tip #3 - Be Responsive to Candidates
No one likes to be strung along for months in regards to a job. Shockingly, SHRM advised that the nearly half of applicants are still waiting for an answer two months after they’ve applied. That’s too long. Companies can improve the candidate experience by acknowledging candidates quickly, thanking them, and letting them know when they can expect to be called for an interview. This also goes for post-interview communication. Send rejection letters out sooner than later.
Tip #4 - Make Your Company Website Mobile Friendly
Pretty much everyone and their grandmother has a mobile device of some kind today. More candidates are spending time searching for work on mobile-friendly websites and apps. Is your company website mobile compliant? If not, it’s time to update things to make for a more positive candidate experience. Otherwise, you may miss out on hiring a great candidate.
Additionally, there are some other ways of creating a total experience for candidates and new hires, in a continual process.
Tip #5 - Create Authentic Messaging
From the moment a candidate encounters the company, the messaging should be speaking to the candidate’s career goals. This is not about sharing the mission or how terrific the clients are. Use this opportunity to show how the company is dedicated to helping employees experience more work-life balance and meeting long term career goals. Employees should know how to describe the company in positive terms to others.
Tip #6 - Keep Things Simple
The application and interviewing process should be simple and pleasant. The right recruitment technology can support this. Not only are long applications annoying to candidates, but they can also introduce unconscious bias into things. Diversity in hiring is critical for companies operating on a global scale. Keep the application simple and any interview questions relevant to the job itself. Be considerate of the candidate’s time.
Tip #7 - Focus on Pre-Boarding and Pre-Screening
Many recruiters miss the reason for the pre-screening. The purpose behind it is to discover some things about the candidate before bringing them in for the face-to-face interview. It’s also to verify their information and background. It may not seem that important, but essentially you are setting the tone for how things will go from here on out. A structured pre-screen followed by a structured onboarding plan helps candidates move successfully from the interview to the employment experience.
Tip #8 - Make Onboarding Ongoing
Onboarding of new hires needs to be structured, ongoing, and supportive to the individual’s needs. Management can keep things positive by committing to regular meetings with employees to ensure they are getting what they need to be successful at work, and mentoring to guide them towards higher career aspirations.
How might this continuity benefit the employee and the organization?
Organizations come out the winners when they create an employee experience that’s positive and authentic. Employees who have come through the hiring phase in a positive way will then move into their jobs with a positive attitude. The effort taken by the company to improve the experience of every candidate becomes a dedication to every new hire. Employees appreciate this and many more are looking for organizations where they can find opportunities to learn and grow. Gratitude is expressed in better work outcomes, more engagement, and increased loyalty to the company objectives.
How effective is your company's candidate experience? Find out with the McQuaig Candidate Experience Grader!
Positive employee engagement also benefits employees in that they have the resources and backing of their employer to do a great job. They can look forward to working with other employees who are happy and excited about their jobs too. The transition from candidate to employee is smooth. They know what to expect and they can be more confident in their decisions. This gets new hires plugged into to their new roles sooner, so they can become effective early on. Employees who work in a positive environment can enjoy greater work life balance and less stress.