Building Relationships With New Employees
In April 2021, I changed jobs and became part of the Great Resignation. I wasn’t alone. More Americans left their job that month than any other month on record. That record was broken in July, then again in August and again in September.
About six months after I left, I rejoined my former company, but in a new role. Within a matter of a year, I experienced what’s now being called the Great Reshuffle, became a boomerang employee and now diving into the Great Onboarding.
To say that 2021 was a wild year professionally would be an understatement.
How has this disruption affected employee communications?
As a PR professional, it’s been hard not to view this global employment shift and its effects from an internal communications perspective.
You’re not only losing institutional knowledge when long-time employees leave, but you’re also likely losing that knowledge within the communications department. Your internal communications strategy is likely pivoting to recruitment and retention tactics. And if I can take a guess, you’re doing all this with limited staff, because you’re also trying to fill the positions of your departed colleagues or ramping up staffing because of the increased focus on internal communications.
The good news is that we can look at this disruption as an opportunity.
Awareness of the importance of employee communications has grown exponentially since the pandemic. Internal communications have evolved, and it doesn’t look to be a trend that will end with the pandemic. A recent survey conducted by Edelman, “The Future of Corporate Communications,” found that 62% of communication leaders see an increased focus on employee communications. More than half rank employee communications in their top five areas of talent investment.
Leadership has a renewed interest in communicating to their employees — likely on a weekly basis, if not daily. Employees are hungry for content within their organization and looking for connections, especially if they are now remote or hybrid. Working across departments to develop, coordinate and implement internal communication strategy is more important than ever.
The ‘Great Onboarding’
New employees are looking for information about their new role and employer, finding purpose in their work, building connections both inside and outside their department while learning processes and locating resources. They are desperately seeking any content they can find, whether it’s a search on your intranet or responding to a post on your companywide Slack channel.
Get rid of the mindset that onboarding is limited to the two-hour Zoom call with Human Resources. Consider the different scenarios on why and how your new employees will be looking for information.
Before they begin, they’ll likely:
- Search your website and read stories about employees to learn more about the company culture
- Follow your social media accounts
- Join your company LinkedIn account and look for connections
Their first week, they may:
- Explore the intranet, including all processes, benefits and resources
- Familiarize themselves with coworkers inside and outside their departments through the company directory
- Join Yammer groups or Slack channels
- Connect with colleagues and meet with managers, direct reports and peers
During their introductory period, they’ll hopefully:
- Find formal or even informal employee ambassadors who can share connections and provide an inside look at potential obstacles and pitfalls
- Join affinity groups or employee resource groups
These are opportunities to engage and build relationships with your new hires. Use them to your advantage. These employees have fresh enthusiasm for their new role and organization. Use it!
- Know why, how and when these channels are being consumed by new employees. Consider how this will affect the content you’re providing them and the appropriate call to action.
- Provide information that is easy to find and quick to digest across multiple channels.
- Develop a process or channel to solicit new employee feedback and questions. Ask them to provide insights and ideas when it comes to what they expect from internal communications.
- Engage with new employees by sharing their stories, amplifying their messages and responding to their questions.
- Recruit new employees as informal ambassadors by providing them with content to share externally.
- Provide your long-term employees the resources and answers to frequently asked questions. They are the first people your new hires are going to ask. This is also a perfect time to evaluate if your internal communication strategies are meeting the needs of your veteran employees.