Monday May 10, 2010
Jane Sunley looks at the employee journey and how it presents many engagement opportunities.
I’m happy to report that the Purple Palace is good and busy and with organisations acting now to engage and retain their talented people. As the recession lifts our products and services are more in demand than ever and we were lucky enough to keep all of our people last year as well as continue to develop them. Even better, as a result of recent developments, it’s been necessary to employ some new people - Caroline on the talent toolbox side, and David who is concentrating on our public courses. Having been involved in their inductions this week made me think what a huge opportunity to engage new people a really well crafted induction really is.
People make their career decisions within the first 100 days (“Is this a place where I want to really make a go of it or am I just passing through?”) It makes sense to put a lot of effort into making sure people settle in well, have a great recruitment and selection experience, are properly welcomed, understand what they are there to do and have the resources to be able to do it.
We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to add to the engagement of new and existing purple people and this starts before they have even been through the selection process with the messages we promote about what our organisation stands for and why it’s a great place to work. When we’re networking or speaking at events we make sure we give subtle indications about our own business along with examples and case studies. We want to create a situation where if anyone anywhere asked anyone anywhere what it would be like to work with us, the answer would be enthusiastically positive. During interviews we are doing the same, and then the real work starts...
We feel it’s important to plan and execute a comprehensive, written induction plan tailored to the individual. This is communicated to the organisation so that everyone is aware of what’s happening and can be involved in welcoming the new person. This is easier in a smaller organisation although even in larger ones the goal can be achieved without too much input. As a small example, in a large call-centre business we know, they tie balloons to the chair of anyone who’s new so that colleagues can come up and introduce themselves. It seems to work well for them. If you’ve ever been to an event where you know no one, you’ll recognise how important it is to be made to feel welcome and accepted.
We also recommend sending details and ‘pre-work’ through so the new recruit can start to be involved and learn more about you. This could include researching key clients, learning about products and services, colleagues, values and so on. This makes the new recruit more confident and able to ‘hit the ground running’, feeling less like the ‘green newbie’. It all contributes to the engagement factor.
There are always many opportunities to make people feel welcome and well treated and it’s important to make the most of these. During the recent volcanic ash episode one of our new starters was stranded in Hong Kong and ended up commencing work here ten days late. Obviously the only thing to do was to make the most of the situation and work round it. He remarked later that our no-nonsense yet sympathetic approach was much appreciated. It may sound obvious but so many organisations fail to do it - treating people with respect and in a reasonable way all contributes to the engagement process.
As written in a previous blog (click here to view) culture is very important when it comes to engaging your people. If you live your values in everything you do, recruit people who have similar values and ‘get’ yours, and make sure that people are very well versed in ‘they way we do things are done around here’ from day one, there’s a much higher likelihood of success.
Ensuring that your people are familiar with key clients’ organisations as well as your own is important and making use of secondments; work shadowing and visits early on in the relationship will reap rewards and provide a massive head start when it comes to networking within the industry. Another obvious one, though too often forgotten, is to build in regular reviews to provide coaching and feedback to new people. We also love mentoring and ensure that purple people have access to mentors from in or outside the organisation.
As the new person’s line manager, it’s also important to put in regular meetings to ensure that all is on track. It’s also true that new people will make the most suggestions and have the ability to see things with a fresh perspective, listening and implementing any suggestions can be rewarding for both the individual (feel empowered and important) and the organisation (improvement). To make sure all this is happening we have a talent toolbox module that deals solely with reviewing the induction period and ensuring a conversation takes place to listen to anything the new employee has to say.
Today’s employee wants to learn and progress and in addition to development courses and programmes, there are other low cost / no cost ways of engaging your people through learning such as secondments; project work; self-study; elearning; reading; team activities; knowledge sharing; supplier led activities and many more. So be creative, look for the opportunities and most of all make sure you seize them with both hands.
What are you currently doing to engage your people?