The landscape of today’s workforce looks vastly different than it did a few years ago. Most notably, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that unemployment rates are at a 16-year low, which means employees have more job options than ever before and are making the war for talent extremely competitive. Also, millennials are officially the largest generation in the U.S workforce, which is significantly changing the process of recruiting and retaining talent in an effort to appeal to this dominant demographic.
While many companies are adapting to these changing trends, there’s always room for improvement. To help you win the war for talent in this constantly evolving workforce, we’ve outlined a series of best practices for a few key moments within the employee engagement lifecycle.
Additionally, we’ve just published a new whitepaper called the “HR Tech Engagement Stack” that helps you map out the best tools and technologies to fuel your engagement strategy, download your copy online here!
Moment #1: Recruiting
Why Recruiting's Important
First impressions matter. When you send that initial LinkedIn message to a promising candidate, you should operate under the assumption that they’re receiving a similar message from several other hiring managers - a safe bet given that a Recruitment Sentiment Study found 47 of declined offers in the second half of 2015 were due to candidates accepting other jobs. So, it’s important to be thoughtful in every step of the recruiting process and think about ways to make your communications as impactful, efficient, and clear as possible — or risk losing your candidate to a competing company.
3 Ways to Win in Recruiting
- Tell a meaningful story: A Gallup poll revealed that millennials are looking for a sense of purpose in their work. That’s why companies can’t rely solely on their brand name to attract talent. Instead, they have to tell a meaningful story. How does the company contribute to the greater good? What drives its employees to produce top-notch work? Do the company’s values align with your own? These are the questions to keep in mind when speaking with a candidate. The same Gallup poll found that 71 percent of millennials who know what their organization stands for plan to be with their company for at least one year, so the meaningful story isn’t something that should be taken lightly. A word of caution: just don’t exaggerate or fluff up your company’s story — candidates can tell when you’re being disingenuous.
- Be transparent: If you know the recruitment process is going to take six to eight weeks, don’t pretend like it’ll be done faster. If you’re interviewing five other strong candidates for a role, don’t act like each person is a definite shoe-in. Setting up clear expectations from the start will make things easier for all parties involved. For example, maybe one candidate is in a huge rush to find another job. Giving them a heads up that your recruitment process is lengthier might be a deal breaker, which is unfortunate, but it’s better than the alternative of misleading a candidate and causing tension in the relationship down the road. Not only will the company save resources, but the candidate will also be grateful for the time back.
- Provide feedback: Millennials want more feedback than other generations, according to a Gallup poll. This preference can be incorporated into the recruiting phase: after every step of the interviewing process, provide candidates with constructive feedback on what they’re doing well and what they can improve for the next conversation. Doing so will give them an accurate sense of how they’re performing and also lets them know you’re really invested in their success. Or, if they don’t make it to the next round, be specific about why they didn’t move forward. Instead of saying, “You weren’t the best fit,” share more specifics, like, “Everything about your experience was really strong, but we felt your lack of employee experience in leading sales teams could be a barrier. We'd love to revisit conversations after you get another one or two years of leadership under your belt.” This is also an opportune time to elicit feedback on how they feel about the recruitment process, which can reveal useful insights.
If you're looking for applicant tracking systems that streamline communications effectively, learn more about Greenhouse in our HR Tech Engagement Stack eBook.
Moment #2: Onboarding
Why Onboarding’s important
It’s easy to dismiss this part of the lifecycle since the candidate has already been hired. However, take this step as seriously as the rest. Onboarding is a crucial time to make sure your employee is both set up for success and has an enjoyable start at the company, and it starts as soon as your candidate accepts their job offer. The last thing you want is for a new hire to question whether they made the right decision to take the job, or become detached during the time between the offer and the start date.
4 Ways to Win in Onboarding:
- Set clear expectations: The first few weeks at a new company can be a stressful time for new employees. They feel the need to make a strong first impression while also trying to learn the ins and outs of their new team. Put them at ease by setting very clear expectations for their first 30/60/90 days. Providing guidance will help them develop short-term goals and understand what’s expected of them. Just be sure to give your new hire the space and flexibility to adjust the 30/60/90 day plan as needed!
- Make the process seamless: A study by UrbanBound shows that having a standardized onboarding increases new hire productivity. So consider the benefits of having an especially efficient onboarding process, via automation, cutting unnecessary steps from the process, or just making sure your new hire is having conversations with the right people. For example, prioritize setting up one-on-ones with direct team members who will help the new hire better understand their role. While it’s nice for new employees to get coffee with everyone in the office, the first few weeks should focus solely on meetings to get them comfortable with their new position on the team.
- Elicit feedback: To improve the employee experience moving forward, elicit feedback from employees after they go through the onboarding process. Be sure to ask immediately after the process is over, but give them time to mull over their feedback because some gaps in the onboarding process aren’t evident until a few days or weeks into the job, when your employee recognizes a gap in knowledge or comes up with questions after encountering a new experience.
- Welcome your new hire with a thoughtful gift: Make their first day one to remember. Consider employee experiential employee rewards like the ones we offer at Blueboard; employee experiences build strong memories that the employee associates directly with your company and are incredibly social, giving the new employee an opportunity to bond with their coworkers as they share stories from their first skydiving trip, glassblowing class, or surf lesson facilitated by our Concierge team at Blueboard.
Moment #3: Career Development
Why Career Development's important
It’s a well-known fact that millennials value growth and even consider it the most attractive perk in a job. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your high-performing employees have access to the resources they need to continue succeeding in their jobs, which will also increase retention rates in the long run.
3 Ways to Win in Career Development:
- Personalize management: A Gallup poll found that managers strongly influence the engagement level of their employees — not surprising, given that managers are responsible for the professional growth of their team. The best advice for managers is to personalize relationships based on the employee’s preferences and needs. For instance, if the person you manage craves stability and wants to go deep on a specific subject, they must be managed differently from the person who wants fast promotions and asks to work on as many projects as possible. Check out our post on personalized management for more tips!
- Offer learning opportunities: Managers should also point their employees to various learning opportunities (like those supported by our friends at Udemy), whether that’s by encouraging personal passions, sponsoring attendance at a relevant conference, or funding an online course tied to their career goals. There are so many ways to keep employees mentally engaged outside of their standard job responsibilities. If you’re looking for inspiration, read this post on the notion of an extended learning journey and how one of Blueboard’s team members pursued hers.
- Reward meaningfully: Employee rewards and employee recognition is an area where most companies can make improvements. It’s easy to default to the standard coffee gift card or cash bonus, but is that personal? For more meaningful employee rewards, consider the gift of a Blueboard employee experience. There are rewards for all types of employees, whether they’re remote or local, introverts or extroverts, adrenaline junkies or creative types. Blueboard offers unique experiences and employee recognition programs that are easily scalable and always 100% human-centric.
Moment #4: Separation and Alumni
Why Creating an Alumni Experience is Important:
When an employee leaves the company voluntarily, it shouldn’t be treated as the termination of a relationship. In an era when reputation affects business and when “boomerang” employees are increasingly common, ending employee relationships on a positive note is a must.
3 Ways to Win When Employees Depart:
- Maintain the relationship: Unless there were unfavorable circumstances surrounding the end of an employee’s tenure with a company, it’s important to wrap up the relationship on a supportive, positive note. Millennials are more likely to be “boomerang” employees than past generations, so alienating a team member could mean losing a potential future candidate or high-quality candidate referral. Be sure to give a hearty congratulations, wish your employee the best, and keep the lines of communication open as future opportunities open up.
- Keep communication clear until the end: The offboarding process should be developed as thoughtfully as the one for onboarding. Just because an employee hands in a resignation letter doesn’t mean management can go silent and leave the departing individual wondering about next steps. Make it clear what the offboarding process and timeline looks like, and be mindful of the communication shared around the employee’s departure. Ask them if they prefer to inform specific people themselves, or if they’d prefer for their manager to send out an office-wide note. Don’t just assume and have the employee feel awkward or unsure about who they should tell.
- Offer a thorough exit interview: Part of a successful offboarding process is a thorough exit interview. Use this moment as an opportunity to have an honest conversation about areas of improvement for the company, its processes, and its people. While employees leaving on a sour note can leave biased feedback, employees leaving with no hard feelings can offer up valuable insights that can be used to improve the overall employee experience for current and future employees.
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration during the employee engagement lifecycle, which can often be overwhelming. However, given the competitive war for talent — which is now dominated by millennials who have a very different set of values from previous generations — it’s crucial to keep up with evolving trends. So if you ever find yourself looking for a way to better engage your millennial talent, consider the gift of experiential employee rewards with Blueboard. Simply request a demo via the orange button above, or chat with us via the blue icon bottom right!