As originally published in Forbes here.
Since writing “The Three M’s Needed For A Comprehensive Employee Experience Strategy,” I have been frequently asked about the key moments in the employee experience that managers and organizations need to focus on to build a great culture. When a new employee begins working, there are some critical moments that will determine whether or not they will be successful and engaged and with you for longer than six months or 90 days. Over the years, I have done a lot of work helping organizations develop their orientation and onboarding programming and have come to identify the key moments to consider with a new employee.
It seems this area of focus is even more important right now as organizations consider how to bring employees back to work and re-orient them to everything that is new. So now is a great time to be thinking about how to improve your orientation and onboarding mechanisms. The key moments in this employee experience can be summed up in six questions:
1. Do I need to change what I do and how I do it?
I was fortunate to work at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company when Horst Schulze was president and actively involved with the properties. One of his most important reminders to us as leaders was about connecting and establishing priorities with a new employee on their first day.
When someone starts a new job, it is one of the few times they are open to significant change in their lives. On their first day(s), they are looking for information, signs or direction on the organization’s priorities, specifically what things need to be done and how.
With respect to priorities, we often talk about the importance of delivering an orientation that introduces your mission or purpose (what you do), your values (how you do it) and your customer (whom you do it for). By understanding your priorities, the employee will determine what they need to change or how to evolve in order to be successful.
2. Will I make a difference or contribute meaningfully?
During orientation, you also need to establish an emotional connection so that the new employee feels good about their decision to join your organization. From day one, you need to discuss with them how they can and will make a difference in their role for their customers, both internally and externally. People come to work wanting to do something meaningful, so when they understand your expectations from the first day and that the organization will enable and empower them, they feel excited about their new job, putting aside any feelings of still having to look for a job.
3. Is my new team glad I am here?
After the initial orientation day(s), the new employee moves into their department and should begin learning the job. However, before any training, a new employee is focused on one moment: if they feel their new team is glad that they are there. It can be very informal — other team members coming by their desk to introduce themselves and welcome them — or something more organized with proper introductions and a moment welcoming them to the team. Regardless, it is a critical moment. When a new employee arrives at their department, they need to feel welcomed.
4. Am I set up for success?
Onboarding is the process of getting an employee set up for success, which is an important moment for an employee. Onboarding consists of the initial job training, familiarizing themselves with the team, organization, environment and how to access the information and tools to do the job. The onboarding process will vary by position and can be as quick as a few days or more drawn out for complex roles. Ultimately, the employee needs to feel they have enough training over the right amount of time. The new employee also needs to feel they have a relationship with their direct manager who will provide support, direction and leadership as required. As such, managers should schedule a time to have one-on-one conversations to get to know a new employee better and understand how they can best support them.
5. Will I make friends here?
Having friends at work is important, and while I mentioned this moment in the recruitment process, it’s imperative here. During this initial onboarding, a new employee is looking for opportunities to make friends. Yet, many organizations do not consider this nor do they have anything in place that allows a new employee the chance to be social with their new team. Having a planned approach to allow a new employee to work closely with one or two key people — those who will be responsible for introducing them to the rest of the team — is a meaningful and simple way to connect someone emotionally to their new team.
6. Do they value my input or feedback?
Being a new employee can be daunting. One best practice is to get input from the new hire before they become socialized into the organization. With fresh eyes, they can see and experience things (good and bad) that may help the business improve, yet most of the time, they are not asked for feedback or insights. During the onboarding process, the manager should ask the new employee for feedback on what they have seen. You could even have them complete a formal survey about their experience to ensure all the key moments listed and their initial experience meet their and the organization’s expectations. This lets the employee know that the organization values their input and sets the expectation for idea sharing in the future.
If you are serious about EX, you must consider the key moments in the employee’s journey and how you, as an organization or manager, can positively impact that experience. Before you invest a lot of time and money into EX, develop a strategy and consider where you will significantly impact your employees and the company culture this year.