CATEGORY

EMPLOYEES

 

You’ve no doubt already seen a plethora of blogs out there about the most effective ways to successfully work from home. Good lighting. Clear workspace. Stretch out every so often. But even once we set up our respective workstations, make to-do lists, and take frequent breaks throughout the day – there may still be elements missing when remote.
Just because working from home isn’t a new concept, it doesn’t mean it won’t be new to a lot of people. Whether they’re new to the working world or their previous jobs never required or allowed it, we reached out to six people in various roles and occupations who are new to working from home. Despite everyone’s circumstances being unique, they shared some common challenges that may speak to you as well.

Human Connection, Communication & Collaboration

We have hundreds of digital communication tools at our fingertips to keep everyone connected. Facebook, Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet – the list is endless. Some companies even have several implemented for employees. So why are communication and collaboration persistently top issues for remote workers? It’s because of how we use them. This was something reflected in our interviews as five out of the six respondents stated that despite still feeling somewhat connected to their teams, it was hard to sustain throughout the day. It was specifically noted that it becomes much harder to gauge someone’s mood or tone, which impacted how the individuals felt able to contact their colleagues.

“I feel less connected to my team because of the lack of human interaction”

The issue of improving ease of communication and collaboration can be addressed by companies establishing best practices with their communication tools of choice. Where should employees chit chat? Where can they feel comfortable sharing a meme, a video or a funny anecdote? What is the best medium for feedback or high-level discussions? Very few tools can do it all unless they are specifically designed with remote teams or asynchronous communication in mind.

Regardless of age, when you first start a job, interaction can really influence how happy and settled you feel. Traditionally offices organise new joiner drinks, Friday breakfasts or similar opportunities for team bonding. This is the first thing lost when working from home. All of our respondents mentioned that they missed some social aspect since moving to remote working, be it being able to talk through an issue or question or even just missing the jokes. If you’re starting in a remote job it can be hard to find ways to bond or understand the team you need to collaborate and connect with. Perhaps more relevant to what people are facing in today’s world, how can you prevent team connections and bonds falling apart once everyone’s had to move to remote working? Especially at a time when businesses need their people to be pushing on more so than ever.

“I’m missing the jokes and the random spurs of out loud thoughts that lead to spouts of creativity in a collaborative environment”

We all need a nudge. When building our solutions, we firstly work to understand the user profiles who will be adopting the solution and then establish what nudges or prompts they might need to get the necessary work done, boosting motivation and productivity. It is here we use game design to implement the most effective mechanics to create these nudges. Activity loops which provide a prompt or call to action followed by some form of feedback are a simple way to keep people engaged. For example, the call to action could be a reminder to call someone that they have not spoken to in a while. The feedback would come in the form of the conversation that is then had. Or, the call to action could be a new goal set in a task that they must complete. In this instance, feedback could come in the form of progress markers or recognition within the team.

Staying on Track

Most businesses are well equipped with the previously mentioned communication tools for meetings, catch ups and follow ups, but what about project management tools? People new to working from home can quickly feel detached from the usual buzz of the office or feel that their day has been unproductive even when filled with calls. Helping people feel like they’re achieving something is vital for sustaining motivation and consequently, productivity. While many of us see flexibility as the main benefit of remote working, the flip side is if everyone is being flexible how do you ensure everyone’s flexible schedules and needs overlap? Feeling like you’re all on the same page can be hard when you lose sight of what everyone is doing. Something a few of our respondents picked up on was the lack of project management and collaborative working tools to ease the situation and improve motivation and the drive for teamwork.

Thinking outside the box and utilising tools that encourage feedback, recognition and help track progress can help ease the difficulties that exist around collaborative projects. This can look like collaborative to-do lists, virtual timelines, progress bars or notification prompts to managers. Platforms and solutions can be designed to help everyone to stay in the loop with each other and on track with what needs to be done, as well as supporting the social need for interaction. When combined with a more conscious effort to update each other, even with non-work specific things, has positive effects as it will help to immerse the natural flow of activity that occurs in the office, into the online environment.

“Isolation is an issue because the office acts as a social space so being remoted from this has consequences”

We have the benefit of technology to help us tackle these challenges, but it’s vital to remember the humans at the heart of it. Users who will feel lonely even with 101 digital tools available to them, users who will feel untethered from their usual productivity and routine. Work communication needs to be functional to sustain overall productivity and performance, but communication is more than just ‘pinging’ each other work updates. We can all get better at making an effort to be there for each other. More meaningful and productive communication, finding more areas for collaboration, aiding in employee development and motivation. However, there is also an argument that companies could be investing in the structures and digital tools that will empower and enable their employees to be their best selves – wherever they’re logging in from. Current circumstances aside, if remote working is here to stay, practices and approaches need to be put into place to help employees work remotely, not alone.

As we face new challenges in the workplace and the world in general, it seems that working from home and remote workforces will become an increasingly common practice. Employees and employers alike will be feeling the strain to balance priorities and maintain ‘business as usual’ structures. Communication tools and software are imperative for ensuring connectivity. If implemented alone, without strategy and an understanding of how your team engage in their work, they can feel like tools to monitor and observe employees.

Here we will look at how even just a basic understanding of motivation can help you to ensure your employees or your team, whatever their profile or drives, stay engaged and motivated whilst working from home – now and in the future.

The RAMP model is based on Self Determination Theory and stands for Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Relatedness taps into our innate desire to be connected to others, Autonomy, the need to have choice and freedom. Mastery is a need to improve, feel progress and achievement. Finally, Purpose can be described as the “reason” we do things.

All of these can hold the key to make working from home feel as productive or satisfying as working in an office.

Relatedness

This is one of the most important aspects that can be lost when working from home. In the office you always have people around to talk to, bounce ideas off and even just share a lunch break with. Working from home can be calming for some, isolating for others – and in times of uncertainty it is important to find ways to stay connected, not micromanaged.

  • Tools
    When working from home, it can be very isolating if no effort is made to engage with others. Most companies have tools that will enable this one way or another, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack and so on. Don’t bombard each other, but find reasons to send a positive message or email, and make sure there are meetings held on conference call, video call or even the good old-fashioned phone. Give your people a voice, literally!
  • Conversation & Collaboration
    When working from home for extended periods, make sure your employees are using those tools in a way similar to how they would talk to people in the office. Just because it is text based, doesn’t mean it can’t be just as valuable. If they are not using the tools, why not ask questions, send thoughts, share an anectdote. It is all part of keeping motivated and reminding you that there are others out there with you.

Autonomy

With remote work, it is important to accept that employees will naturally have more freedom and inevitably less structure than they may have in the office. If they are working from home to balance family life or health needs or extenuating circumstances with work commitments, flexibility is important. Flexibility doesn’t mean employees going MIA – which is a message for both employees and their managers. Don’t tie your employees to their desktops and phones out of fear. Connect with them and empower them to continue contributing and they will feel all the better (and perform more) for it.

  • Trust
    There may be a temptation to check in with employees more often than you might normally. This reduces their feeling of agency and autonomy. In turn, this makes them feel less trusted.
  • Accountability
    Whilst autonomy is great, employees need to be disciplined and take accountability for the work that has been set, or for finding work to be done.
  • Job Done vs Time Done
    Accept that employees will use their time working remotely differently to when they are in the office, breaking the concept of 9-5. Focus on rewarding and celebrating people getting work done, rather than whether they were online at 09:01. It can be hard, especially with current stresses, for people to be mentally present and motivated during strict time frames. Maintain ambitious project ideas, stick to deadlines, and celebrate when the job is done.

Mastery

This may be a little less obvious at first. If you are suddenly now part of a remote team, you might be feeling like your career progression has gone on hold, or maybe you’re struggling to keep up with your company’s e-learning system with other things on your mind. How can people develop their skills or experience when there is no one there to see them do it? Particularly if you’re from a more traditional working environment, working from home can end up feeling like you’re just sitting around. Mastery is about more than ticking boxes. Mastery is about achievement, and there are many ways for you to feel you are continuing to accomplish things professionally in a less conventional setting.

  • Goals
    Make sure that everyone has clear goals and that progress towards them can be tracked (for the employee’s benefit more than yours). It is essential that goals are achievable, and progress is recognised. If this is proving complicated in the beginning, break them down into smaller goals to build momentum.
  • Feedback
    Provide constructive feedback as regularly as makes sense for each employee. Whilst working remotely, it can be very hard to feel that you are succeeding or achieving anything, or to know what other people are doing around you.
  • Self-Guided Learning
    Help your team feel able to use their time to expand their skills with online and virtual learning/training courses. This will go towards them feeling trusted to manage their time, as well as providing some structure and even some inspiration for their day to day work.

Purpose

There are two versions of purpose that are important here. Firstly, finding some sort of value and meaning to the work you are doing – a reason why you are doing it. Organisations and employers play a huge role in this by helping to remind employees why the work they do is important, and emphasising that they are all part of a collective, collaborative group rather than remote satellites. The other aspect is philanthropic purpose, helping others. As mentioned before remote working, especially if somewhat involuntary, can be isolating for your team members. It is vital for team morale and motivation to keep up the human aspect of work rather than only pinging people for a favour or work related question.

  • Purpose and Value
    The more disconnected you are from an organisation, the easier it is to forget the importance of what you’re doing. It is essential that you keep up communications with your team so that you all don’t lose sight of your common goals and purpose. Also companies should be encouraged to continue sharing communications and updates to remove the sense of people working for or towards something invisible.
  • Helping Others
    The other type of purpose, that of helping others. Just because you can’t do a coffee round as you would in the office, doesn’t mean you can’t still help others in some way remotely. Make yourself available and remember that everyone is in the same boat!

In today’s competitive market, the period from when someone makes the commitment to join right through their first few months in the role is key. Key to ensuring that the new employee is engaged with their work and the organisation they’re joining, and feel their decision to join is reinforced and reassured along the way.

The benefits are that they get settled into their roles and are productive sooner. They begin their journey towards brand advocacy, and they are much less likely to leave earlier than expected. So, making sure that everyone joining has a positive experience is certainly worth the effort.
But what about when an employee wants to leave? Could a more positive experience at the exit stage – offboarding – be valuable for all concerned?

The reasons for individuals moving on to pastures new are always numerous and varied of course. Historically, when someone resigned, particularly if going to work for a direct competitor, then they were likely to be marched off site, not allowed to return to their desk and maybe forced to complete their notice period whilst at home on “gardening leave”.

Most people no longer join the work force looking for a “job for life”. It is highly likely at some point or another, many of us will move roles to satisfy our own individual motivations. As Business leaders, managers or owners, we need to analyse the reasons and respond to significant trends that cause people to move on, sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent it happening. However, it does not mean there’s nothing that can be done to prepare for the situation. Utilising technologies to provide consistent, standardised experiences across an organisation can be critical for maintaining satisfied and engaged employees at any stage of their journey with you.

 

Despite the benefits, research suggests that only 29% of companies have a defined “Offboarding” strategy*

 

Given the vast opportunities in the market, and the emergence of new and non-traditional roles and skills every day, there is significant value in maintaining strong relationships with ex-employees – beyond simplistic networking on LinkedIn stalking that we have all become too accustomed to.  Leaving people with positive experiences and a smooth transition could help make all the difference.

Let’s consider some of the benefits:

  1. They may want to work for us again

Where there is a keen demand for skills and talent, we may want them to come back and work for us again and we want to maximise the likelihood that they will want to. They are likely to have developed and grown and can come back as more rounded individuals with a broader experience of the market and able to make a bigger contribution to the success of the company. Stay in touch and create ways to demonstrate that even though they’re off the payroll, they’re still a valued member of the company’s extended community.

  1. The growing gig economy

Not everyone who joins or leaves a company today will be a permanent employee. Some will be contractors, freelancers, consultants or gig-workers. Historically these roles have not been treated as well as the “permanent employees”, with less access to the everyday benefits and opportunities. The popularity and demand for contingent workforce will only continue to grow as businesses broaden their flexibility or offerings, and so the need to remain engaged with them is vital to ensure that they too will want to return or keep in orbit if their skills are required.

  1. They are still ambassadors and advocates 

As our decisions become increasingly reliant on recommendation and reference, organisations today have a superb opportunity to harness the effect of their employees and ex- employees. People share their experiences amongst their networks and a positive review from someone who has left can be a powerful tool when attracting new people to join.

  1. They may be future customers or partners

We don’t only want to retain their loyalty as an employer – we want to appeal to them as customers. Those leaving have a knowledge of the market, industry, products and services and we will want to ensure that they can recommend our business, as suppliers or partners, where appropriate.  A positive experience as an employee is likely to strengthen their customer advocacy.

We need to move away from a world where we treat our customers so evidently better than how we interact with our own employees. There has always been a focus in delivering customer excellence, as there is a simple connection to ROI. If we were to enrich the experiences of employees, instead of viewing them as replaceable, we would empower and enable the workforce – thus strengthening business performance, productivity and power of influence. There is an eagerness to offer valuable experiences for employees in the hope they then value their organisation. Moving forward, we should also learn to get better at extending that appreciation to people and communities beyond their last day.

*Aberdeen Research Group

A Two-Way Street

Lack of engagement in the workplace is an issue that isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. Everyone has days where they hit the brick wall or count the seconds on the clock until they leave; but the problem is when those days become the norm. Every year more research and statistics come out and cause concern as they reveal how the majority of employees feel unengaged at work, how even engaged individuals are at risk of burnout, and how just measuring levels isn’t actually helping anyone.

It was interesting to see in the recent NYT Smarter Living piece ‘Feeling Uninspired at Work?’ that the advice focussed on the individuals and employees: take some time to refresh your mind, send the email you’ve been meaning to send, find a way to tick something off your to-do list no matter how small. All positive ways to give yourself a sense of progress or accomplishment. That said, the achievements end up benefitting the employer as much as the employee. Which brings up another common frustration. The responsibility can’t always be on the individual to restart their motivation generator. Employers can also be providing the right tools and environment to make engagement in the workplace a possibility and a reality, rather than “something that would be nice to have”.

Employees today have endless distractions and opportunities just a click away, and in many cases face outdated management styles and frameworks that stifle motivation. Left unaddressed, disaffection, detachment and disillusionment are huge blockers for any company trying to roll out new objectives, embed values and culture, or retain talent. So, what do you do? Offer Taco Tuesdays for everyone? Redesign the office space to include more plants and natural light? Provide ping-pong tables? These are fine ideas and they can work as rewards, but they don’t move the engagement dial in the long term as they don’t address the root of the challenge – how to engage people in the uninspiring everyday processes or procedures they have to do.

No companies truly want their employees to be miserable. More than ever before organisations today are under pressure to craft modern, appealing offerings for employees, that stand out from the competition – attracting new exciting talent, developing employees into the best they can be, enabling the right work/life balance, supporting meaningful causes, offering more opportunities… It’s a lot to promise and consistently deliver. Where do you even begin?

Enhancing the Every Day

We define engagement as an emotional and psychological attachment people have to a brand, product, idea or organisation. The feeling of trust you have towards a cosmetic brand because you like their ethics, their marketing, and the fact you can see results (albeit small) after using their products. Because of how they make you feel, you keep buying from them again.

So, in order to foster engagement in any environment, you need to start with the people. Understand their drives, their motivations, what they enjoy and what their pain points might be. Once you can better empathise with them, you will be in a much stronger position to work on impactful and meaningful engagement solutions. If your employees feel that you understand their needs and that your programmes empower them, rather than further complicate their day, they’ll then be more willing to adopt new approaches.

A lot of the work we do at Motivait comes down to helping companies enhance the experience of a specific area or process. A more exciting onboarding process, redesigning manager training and development, driving teamwork and collaboration. We use RAMP theory as a core part of our solution design process to encourage intrinsic engagement – a drive that comes from within – as this is what helps turn passive individuals into active participants. When their sense of Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and/or Purpose are reinforced, people willingly take part in specific activities and work towards objectives because they want to, rather than feel they have to.

More often than not, small changes that then add up to a larger impact over time is the best starting place. Seeing progression is important, much like the NYT article referred to when suggesting ticking off items of a to-do list. What is even more powerful is having the acknowledgment or encouragement come from colleagues or managers, rather than always being self-generated.

Simply developing mechanisms for positive feedback when tasks are usefully achieved can improve people’s motivation to continue. Creating an environment where employees can see the corporate values in action, rather than just listing abstract concepts, through champions and leaders leading by example. An engaged workforce will be more open to collaborating, committing, and representing, once they understand the reciprocity and value to their contribution in the greater scheme of the organisation.

Solutions and practices that reinforce the idea “we want to make your experiences with us better!” are all it takes to start shifting perceptions. Once they take root, they can then become vehicles for promoting and influencing desired behaviours and be a step closer to achieving company objectives, values and culture you’ve set out for success.


Delivering EVP through employer branded experiences

So, you have begun your own company-wide introspection to define your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), or have already defined it, now it’s time to think about delivery, or in other words, how to articulate and bring your EVP to life in employee experience terms.

As a reminder, the EVP is the employment offering between employer and employee, the employer’s commitment to help satisfy what employees need and want from their work, in exchange for their daily efforts and energy towards the organisation’s goals.  While all organisations have an EVP, not all intentionally define, shape and formalise it into strategy.

More importantly – and a key differentiating factor – not many organisations go as far as articulating and delivering their EVP into actual, lived ‘people experiences’. Experiences that are differentiated by your EVP, unique to your organisation, and articulate your company identity, goals, mission, values and norms.

These people experiences range across the employee life-cycle touch points (attraction, recruiting, onboarding, performing, developing) to those key job tasks, activities and processes instrumental to your organisations’ success. These key events can serve more than their original functional purpose. They are times where employees, partners, prospects, clients and customers all interact with your organisational brand and value proposition. This means that people are forever appraising/re-appraising whether their experiences of you are aligned to your EVP commitments, and in turn, will determine whether they reciprocate value (e.g. employees giving discretionary effort.)

Being able to manage and articulate your employer brand ensures you are in the best position to attract, engage and retain the people needed – it’s about standing out from your competition and communicating a consistent EVP in experiential terms. For example, this could be about providing a rich, realistic preview into your organisational norms during employee attraction, to training and ongoing reinforcement for how staff should handle customer communications during service disruptions. It is these kinds of opportunities that can really be utilised to differentiate your organisation from the competition.

Taking the familiar employee life-cycle, here are some example ideas to illustrate how you can articulate and bring an EVP to life:

Attract

  • Create ‘day in the life of’ role-play scenarios or simulations, played out through a working day narrative with the prospect in control, can provide realistic job or company previews. Not only do they support job-role fit & encourage self-selection in prospects not aligned to your company EVP & role, they are creative opportunities to articulate your identity, values and norms.

Recruit

  • Two personal selection methods, situational-judgement tests and assessment centres, can provide an opportunity to communicate your EVP to candidates. Situational scenarios and assessment centre exercises designed with familiar contexts in which assessed competencies are performed in, offer another opportunity to reinforce organisation EVP and brand to candidates.

Onboard

  • Preboarding and onboarding of new starters need to provide role clarity, socialisation, organisational knowledge and reduce any shock factors.
  • Technology can allow onboarding to begin before day 1, allowing new starters to connect with new and existing employees, to learn and assimilate company & role specific knowledge, to experiencing case studies in narrative-driven experiences. If designed well, these can support new starters time-to-proficiency.

Perform

  • Feedback and recognition mechanisms, powered by technology, allowing managers and peers to applause and recognise values-based behaviours can reinforce EVP-based behavioural norms.
  • The use of quick ‘pulse’ crowd-suggestion, voting and feedback mechanisms can provide feedback opportunities for employees, customers to clients. This data can provide insights into whether your EVP commitments are being delivered consistently across your employee and customer interaction points.

Develop

  • Games-based learning and simulation games can be designed specifically around learning objectives and within highly-contextual, employer-branded experiences. These simulations can serve to promote the relevance of training to employees and encourage its transfer back into working environments.

 

If you’re interested in doing something to impact and support your organisation’s EVP, why not get in touch and see what we could create for you? info@motivait.net 

 Happy employees drinking chai lattes, playing pool and table tennis, being creative and brilliant. That is the vision some have come to imagine is the ideal work environment. We have all seen the pictures from companies like Google, with chilled out developers working in converted phone boxes and sliding down the helter-skelter to their next meeting.

The reality is, of course, often very different. The practicalities of most office environments mean that these sorts of extreme designs are not possible. However, that does not stop people trying. The number of times I have seen a pool table or foosball table awkwardly shoehorned into a corner is incredible.

The reasoning behind this is often honourable. Someone somewhere has been given a bit of money to try and increase employee happiness, and therefore engagement, based on a poor employee satisfaction survey result.

It may seem a generous and forward-thinking idea, but it is often a poorly planned “knee-jerk” reaction that fails to address the deeper issues that may be affecting the feelings of the employees or why there may be a low level of engagement.

In reality, satisfaction and engagement surveys have certain issues that could affect the true vision of employee engagement. For starters, not all employees may believe they are anonymous, leading them to refuse to take part, fearing that “Big Brother” is watching. Others may take it as an opportunity to vent frustrations that are not directly related to their overall engagement with the company. Yet more may be too busy to do it, probably those that are actually the top performers! So, the survey never really represents to true levels of engagement across the whole company.

Imagine you find that a particular department has low morale. Do you really think that putting a pool table in the coffee room will lift that long term? Did anyone in their survey cite a lack of a pool table as their reason for being unhappy in their role? Of course not. You need to dig deeper and understand the root cause of the issues, then work to improve that. But you can only do that if the employees trust you, which is where things like a well thought out Employee Value Proposition (EVP) start to become so important!

The same can actually be said of many gamification implementations in companies looking to boost employee engagement. They are introduced to try and add some flavour, fun or competition to boost productivity or happiness. Just like the pool table, this often doesn’t address the core issues. In fact, with badly implemented gamification the issue could be compounded. If a company can afford to invest in that, why can’t they invest in something that employees actually want? That’s why it is so important to plan a gamification solution so carefully and why we put so much time into the user research at the start of any project. If you don’t understand them, you can’t possibly design something that will resonate with them and be accepted.

This doesn’t mean you should not install a pool table, but make sure that it is part of a structured plan to improve all of the factors affecting employee engagement, not just a patch with a “that’ll do” attitude attached.

It’s open season in the world of applying for graduate schemes. In the background, Brexit negotiations and threats of a 2020 “brain drain” tinge the graduate recruitment market with nerves and uncertainty. Still, for now, the same huge demand remains for opportunities across the country. The same demand, the same competition, but also the same headaches persist for the recruiting teams. If anything, they’re showing signs of growing.

21st Century Graduates

800 graduate positions were left unfilled in 2016, with graduates turning down or reneging offers that left a quarter of the UK’s leading employers with less intake than planned. The generations now reaching the employment market are faced with more choice and information than ever before, and many fiercely value the ethics and culture behind a brand just as much as what their starting salary could look like.

Graduate recruiters need to find ways to create emotional engagement to carry candidates through the early stages of joining and beyond. There are 101 reasons that could put graduates off moving forward with an opportunity. Old fashioned selection processes, myths around the profiles being hired, London is the only place that offers a competitive future….

Organisations can set themselves apart from the competition, not just by offering flexible hours or appealing holiday cover, but through effectively connecting with and preparing their candidates.

Budgets, budgets, budgets

Constraints on resources and budgets within HR and recruiting departments overall dictate that teams need to get creative and stay relevant to their target audience, without simply buying their attention or forcing them to a one-off seminar. Most recruiters now rely on social media more than traditional advertising but are also developing more direct partnerships with universities. But what if you’re not one of the widely recognised brands? How can you successfully reach the graduate population, and stand out with your approach?

The average cost per hire for a graduate is estimated to be £3,383. This comprises of £1,722 on attraction & marketing and £1,661 on selection & assessment. Fewer companies are planning on increasing their budgets around recruitment for the foreseeable future, which means it’s going to become more important to reach and attract the right candidates who could even develop beyond graduate level within the company.

Honeymoon vs Hangover

The numbers of students who see their first role as a stepping stone towards other opportunities is on the rise. 60% of students say they would expect to be in their first job for less than 3 years. So how to make them stay?

A large proportion of graduates feel they are underemployed and underappreciated in their roles which could be a factor in the rising trend. Is there a way to set and manage their expectations accordingly from the start, and demonstrate what it is really like to work in your company with minimum surprises? 69% of employees are more likely to stay in their company for at least 3 years after a great onboarding experience. It is essential to remember that first impressions count, creating a memorable and innovative approach to onboarding could be the key to unlocking a long-lasting employee experience.

For best ongoing success, it’s crucial all employees- graduate or senior- have a clear understanding of their role and what is expected of them, feel confident in their ability to perform and contribute, as well as feel trusted, connected and valued within their organisation. There are ways to deliver these needs and objectives, without subjecting new joiners to PowerPoints or uninspiring email attachments. It’s true what they say, you get what you give, so why not offer an experience that fills your young and impressionable employees with enthusiasm about the environment they’ve just joined?

Onboarding is nothing new. If you have worked at any medium or large company you are likely to have been through it, but it was probably called induction. For many, it is a few days of icebreakers and PowerPoint slides explaining the company in more detail, various important departments and other information needed to get going.

If you are a gamer, you would know this better as the tutorial level at the beginning of the game.

In both cases, the end goal is the same, get a new person being productive as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The big difference is the delivery mechanisms used.

First Impressions Count

An employee’s first look at the “real” company happens during onboarding. This is the first exposure to other people they are likely to be working with, to the true corporate culture and to some of the more practical aspects of their new day to day life. It is also the company’s first opportunity to make them feel at home and like a valued new member of the team. Sure, they will know something about the company, they would have had interviews, done research, possibly gone through assessment centres, but this is different. It is a time where a company can ask itself the question “What do we want our employees to think of us?” If you want them to think of you as a company driven by a culture of “death by PowerPoint”, it might be best to stop reading now.

Onboarding does not stop in the first few days after the induction, though many may feel this way. A study for the Academy of Management journal found that the first 90 days of a person’s new job were essential for creating social connections and bonds to the company. If they felt supported during this time, then they felt more positive towards the company.

What Makes Good Onboarding Experiences

Baek and Bramwell of Cornell University conducted research into how you measure the effectiveness of onboarding. They concluded that one of the best measures of an effective onboarding experience was time to proficiency. They defined this as the time it took a new hire to reach full productivity within the context of their role.

For this to happen, a new employee needs to have a structured onboarding experience, with specifically defined outcomes, and an experience that is hopefully engaging to them. At the end of their onboarding employees need to have achieved four clear objectives for the best chance of ongoing success (Bauer et al):

  1. Role Clarity; employees understand their role, expectations with it, how to perform in order to achieve expected results
  2. Self-efficacy; employees feel confident in their ability to perform and contribute
  3. Social integration – employees feel connected, valued & trusted
  4. Knowledge of organisational culture; employees understanding and adjusting to company politics, social norms such as language, goals, values and history.

How We Approach Onboarding

Bill Paris, Motivait’s go-to guy on HR and Employee Engagement Solutions, is of the firm belief that onboarding into a new company starts from the day a new employee signs on the dotted line. The time before they step foot on company property is ripe for helping them start to understand some of the basics about their new employer. Much of what would traditionally be done in a conference room over a few days, can be achieved online during the weeks they are waiting to start the new role.

Games and gamification are already being utilised in the attraction phases of recruitment, with games being created to simulate everything from a day in the life of a new employee to testing an employee’s soft skills.

Following that trend into the employment phase of an employee’s journey, we can make use of gamification to create unique and engaging experiences that keep them informed and interested up to and during their first few months of employment.

Creating these kinds of experiences takes time and expertise, balancing the needs and culture of the company with needs of the new employee.

We consider these weeks and months as a quest, creating a structure around what they need to learn and understand early on. Each stage or level of the quest represents new knowledge and experiences that will help them to learn. Focusing on intrinsic motivation, we choose mechanics that support the player’s with social connectedness, education and goals to focus on, all in an environment that promotes exploration and discovery at their own pace. To this we this we add mini-games and interactive learning materials all tied together with interesting narratives and storylines. This gives the players reasons to want to continue rather than just knowing they have to continue.

Good onboarding can lead to higher rates of retention in companies, some statistics quoting as much as 69% higher retention after 3 years for companies with great programmes! It gives employees the opportunity to feel at home and become productive faster. Don’t waste this key opportunity to create a more engaged workforce by relying on traditional or even default methods, simply because “That’s how it’s always been done”.

Early in my career I was working for a college as a learning technologist. This meant that I would help teachers design learning materials to put on to the learning management system. It was great fun and gave me the opportunity to work closely with the teachers and the students. We were a further education institution, focusing mostly on students aged between 16 and 18. It was fascinating to see the dynamic between them and the teachers on a day to day basis. Read more

WhatsApp is on fire! Pings from friends, colleagues and family are popping up incessantly, looking for a chance to spend time together over the Christmas season. It’s time for “Happy Holidays!”, best wishes, a reawakening of certain feelings and the moment for reconciliations. Time to play the lottery -let’s see if fortune finally smiles on us!- time for filling up the fridge more than we should and pile on those Christmas kilos in the blink of an eye, those ones that take us the rest of the year to lose. Read more