resources. sequel talks.

22 July 2019

Guest Blog

It’s never too early for employee experience

Research shows a lack of action may affect whether a new hire turns up on day one, or not. HR has a vital role in ensuring new colleagues are excited about their new job and internal communications can support this with a well thought out onboarding plan.

We’re speaking with internal communication professionals to share best practice and first-hand experience that are the drivers to a successful employee experience. Here we’ve asked Ken Hunter, internal communication and engagement specialist, to explain his unique and interesting point of view.

As an employer, you are looking forward to your new team members joining. Maybe they are replacing someone or will be providing additional resource. You want this to work, don’t you?

A lot can happen between a job offer being accepted and the start date.

Stating the obvious, moving jobs is a big change in someone’s life. So, it’s also a great time to make people feel really wanted, to make them feel that you’re really going to help them succeed. The best in class organisations at recruiting and retaining new recruits are 38% more likely to begin onboarding processes before employees start with the firm and even organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire retention – according to research by Engage Group.

A candidate’s journey

Interesting job ad! Click for more info. Enticed to speak with recruiter. Find out who’s hiring. Google them. Get full job description. Visit website. Tailor your CV. Agonise over cover letter. Apply online. Sigh with relief that you don’t have to re-enter all your career details into poorly constructed online form. Hit send. Get acknowledgement. Possibly never hear from recruiter or company ever again.

But not this time! You’ve not been cast aside. No, you’ve got an interview. Tap up contacts for info. Reread the job description. Trawl through website. Research the sector. Practise your answers. And again, but sharper and more convincing.

Turn up to interview. Do best. Have a second interview and complete some assessment tests. Wait. Excitement of job offer. Negotiate. Get an improved package. Weigh things up against current job. Confirm you accept role. Resign. Must complete two of your three months’ notice period.

With all those steps and decisions, what could possibly go wrong?

As the incoming employee, increasingly you start thinking about the new role, new company and new colleagues…and what it’s really going to be like. At the same time your boss might just be popping you a counter-offer. Colleagues are saying how much they are going to miss you.

And, as you’d been looking around for a while, a few agencies know you’re on the market. One of them gets in touch with news of a great role. Maybe more attractive than the one you’ve accepted.

When I agreed to join Railtrack from Safeway my boss-to-be invited me to an offsite team meeting. I couldn’t join for the whole day but it was a great way to meet folks from right across the department. Even if I had not been able to go at all, the invitation alone would have been appreciated.

It doesn’t need to be as ‘full on’ as joining an off-site meeting.  A brief call or two. Just update them on preparations for their induction. Find out if they have any commitments in their diary such as a parents’ evening so you don’t create clashes when scheduling induction meetings.

Ask them if they have any questions. Send them a selection of corporate literature or the latest copy of the staff publication. Simple stuff, not rocket science.

Clearly, what you need to do for an induction depends on the nature of the role, particularly the range of people and areas that the newcomer will need to work with. Set up those meetings.

And what happens on day one is important.

So, make sure reception knows you have a new start turning up. Go down and meet them in person. Smile.

You can afford to smile. You know you’ve been rigorous in your selection process and that the role is a good mutual fit. Engage Group’s findings are hard hitting; 57% of management hires fail within the first six months and 48% of executive new hires fail within 18 months. In other words, the job and the company are not matching the expectations created for the recruit and/or vice versa.

Be confident that the company and organisation are a good fit. Ensure you’ve got the workspace sorted for the new recruit. Their nameplate is spelled correctly. The IT kit and mobile awaits them, not the other way around, and they have access to whatever support they need to get up and running. Team members know the new recruit’s name. Any corporate clothing or safety gear is readily available.

And during that initial chat with your new recruit you can give them an outline itinerary for the first month. Ideally, this would include setting up meetings where you will personally be checking that their induction is going to plan. That’s in contrast to the 64% of companies which ‘fess up to failing to set milestones or goals for new hires.

As a line manager I’ve always wanted new team members to be as productive as possible, as early as possible. That takes effort and time. A thorough, well-supported recruitment and induction phase is vital to building a recruit’s new working relationship, getting them settled, and providing them with enough context without having to micromanage.


  • Create realistic expectations about the role and the company
  • Candidate knowledge and skills are important but seek to find out if people fit with the values and purpose of the organisation
  • There’s no point working hard to excite and engage people before they join without continuing to do so once they are on the payroll

Finally, my focus has been on professional roles but getting things right for ‘blue collar’ jobs will pay dividends. Statistics show there’s room for improvement – 54% of newly hired hourly employees quit the role or are fired within the first six months

Ken Hunter is an internal communication, change communication and engagement specialist who has worked for a broad range of organisations with a UK and international focus. You can connect with Ken on LinkedIn and Twitter, or see a recent blog he co-authored on the attractiveness or otherwise of IC job descriptions

Thanks to Engage ( for the statistics which are taken from their benchmarking study of 365 UK-based organisations in 2018.

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