Get Engagement From The Get-Go: The Candidate And New Hire Experience

By Lauren Beechly, PhD - December 12, 2018

Chapter 1

The complete employee experience begins before employment. It starts even before the hiring process and continues during onboarding, as the new hire begins work. These first contacts are the cornerstones of the employee experience; everything else builds upon and evolves from these initial impressions. Positive experiences build engagement from the beginning and provide a foundation for enhancing the experience throughout the employment cycle.

This chapter examines the factors that color candidates’ and new hires’ perceptions of the organization—and can impact new employees’ engagement and success throughout their job tenure.

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Table Of Contents

Create A Positive Candidate Experience To Jumpstart Engagement

As the focus on engagement has grown, so has recognition that it starts even before the hiring process. First impressions are important because these early interactions shape prospective employees’ perceptions of the company.

A positive candidate experience serves not only as a solid foundation for building a good employee experience—it is also important for candidates who are not hired. Candidates are often customers as well, so if a candidate is not a good fit for the job, keeping the experience positive avoids alienating them as a customer.

Candidate experience surveys show that 60 percent of candidates will talk about their experience to others, and a recent candidate experience questionnaire from CareerBuilder showed that 78 percent of candidates believe the experience in general is a good indication of what the employee experience will be like. Initial perceptions influence candidates’ willingness to advocate or refer others to the organization; even during the hiring process, these elements of engagement start to come into play. Factors that shape candidates’ perception of the experience include ease of application, the interview, and communication.

An automated application process helps to quickly identify the candidates best qualified for the job, but the technology used also colors perceptions. Whether the technology is user-friendly or cumbersome, candidates are likely to conclude that it reflects the technology used in the company. Technology that functions poorly may dissuade top performers from engaging and lead them to look elsewhere.

Research shows that top performers are more likely to begin the application process on a mobile device, so the technology you use must be mobile-friendly.

The interview heavily influences the candidate experience. Trained interviewers are able to maintain a balance between giving candidates a realistic view of the job and making them feel valued—all while following federal, state, and local fair hiring laws. Communicating value takes on added importance when interviewing for top talent, since candidate interview experience surveys show that the interview has a big impact on offer acceptance. A positive experience makes an offer more likely to be accepted, while a negative one has the opposite effect.

Communication is the other crucial factor in the candidate experience. Job-seeking is stressful and can feel very impersonal. Timely, personalized communication can help alleviate stress and foster the perception that the applicant is valued. This is critical for keeping top talent engaged during the process, and also keeps the experience positive for non-hires. Applicants eliminated from consideration should be notified as quickly as possible, and thanked for their interest and time.

Ultimately, from the candidate perspective, the experience centers around figuring out if they’re a good fit with the organization and the job. It’s imperative to give candidates accurate information; otherwise, once they’re on the job, new hires may conclude that the organization is not authentic and the job is not what they anticipated. This misalignment with expectation is the top reason for attrition in the first 90 days and accounts for over 40 percent of early turnover. Giving candidates an accurate picture of the job—warts and all—can dramatically reduce early attrition.

Close The Gap Between Hiring & Onboarding

In the period between acceptance of an offer and a new hire’s first day at work, there are additional opportunities for building engagement. Start the communication process as soon as the offer is signed. Use technology to complete paperwork, and help new hires get connected with other new employees, mentors, and managers. You’ll capitalize on the new hire’s excitement while also starting to build a connection to the company.

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Start Them Off On The Right Foot With A Positive Onboarding Experience

The first days on the job set the stage for the rest of the employee experience. A positive start has a big impact: 80 percent of employees who rate their onboarding experience as excellent are more committed to their jobs.

Onboarding effectiveness surveys show that employees with positive onboarding experiences have better clarity about their roles and more pride in their companies.

Positioning the new employee for success is the goal in onboarding, so the focus is on learning role expectations, learning the company culture, and getting to know coworkers. Streamlining the associated paperwork via technology or getting it out of the way before onboarding keeps the focus on the elements most crucial to success. It’s also important to communicate to new employees that their contributions are already being valued and recognized; this builds on the engagement started during the hiring process.

How To Measure The Candidate & Onboarding Experience

In general, new hires report higher engagement due to the excitement of a new job. The challenge is keeping that enthusiasm high as new hires transition into longer-term employment.

Onboarding effectiveness surveys, usually conducted at 30 and 90 days, measure new employees’ experiences during the first phases of their journey with the company. The initial survey may include questions about the candidate experience and the interview experience, and typically include new employee onboarding survey questions like these:

  • Were you provided with the resources to be effective in your new position?
  • Were your first interactions with your manager positive and helpful?
  • Do you understand the performance expectations for your job?
  • Does the job align with the expectations you had in the hiring process?

This early survey provides valuable real-time feedback about the onboarding process and flags potential problems for intervention.

The onboarding effectiveness survey conducted at the 90-day mark typically measures engagement, employee understanding of company direction and culture, and how empowered the employee feels in the job. Taken together, these surveys communicate to new employees that their feedback is valued and will be used to make process improvements.

The employee experience is evolutionary; it is influenced by and builds upon early experience. If employees do not see alignment in the onboarding process and the job itself, they are less likely to stay. Consistent messaging and communication will build a solid foundation for a positive employee experience throughout the employee’s tenure.

Looking to build a solid foundation for the employee experience at your company with positive hiring and onboarding processes?

Perceptyx uses powerful people analytics to capture insights into every stage of the employee journey. Get in touch and see how we can help you with the data you need to inform improvements in your hiring and onboarding processes, and get new hires started out on the right foot.

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