3 Strategies to Engage New Hires Before They Onboard


There’s a lot of interest in employee engagement in the federal government. And, there’s good reason for this interest. Employee engagement leads to higher productivity, lower turnover, and more innovation. In most agencies activities around employee engagement are driven by results from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). In short, the focus is on those already working at the agency. But, what about new hires?

One aspect of engagement that most agencies don’t consider is that it can start before the employee onboards.

Here are three strategies you can use to engage new hires before they arrive on the first day of work.

The job interview

During the interview most hiring managers focus on deciding who to hire. The candidate, however, is also making a decision about whether they want to work in that agency. The candidates are looking for signs  of what it would be like to work at your agency. Simple things can be signs of the agency’s culture like: how they are treated, whether the interviewer seems prepared, or how the interviewers interact with each other. Regardless of who is ultimately hired, how you interact with the candidates can impact how they feel about your agency.  Assuming they accept your job offer, this seemingly unimportant aspect of the hiring process can impact their engagement before they arrive.

A follow-up email

Anyone involved in hiring knows that the competition for the best candidate is intense right now. Many times the best candidate is hired somewhere else before an offer is extended. Yet, a simple follow-up after the interview can increase your chances of the best candidate accepting your offer and increasing their engagement.

Most interview advice is about the importance of the candidate following up with a thank you note. Seldom, however, is there mention of a follow up email from the interviewer. The email could thank the candidate for their time and to offer to answer any other follow up questions. Most candidates never hear from the interviewer again if they are not selected. This simple gesture, regardless of whether they are selected, will have a huge impact on the candidate’s view of your agency. Further, it’s a unique way to engage new hires before they onboard.

A buddy call

Although taking a new job holds the excitement of new opportunities, it can also be a little stressful for a soon-to-be new hire. As the start date looms closer, they may wonder: Did I make the right decision? Will I like my new coworkers? Am I going to regret leaving what I already know?

Another simple way to reduce their worries and increase their engagement before they arrive is to reassure them. Many agencies have begun using Buddy Programs to welcome new hires after orientation and for the next few days/weeks after they arrive. The Buddy Programs, however, seldom include a call to the new hire before their arrival. This simple gesture of a call by the buddy can make all the difference for that new hire. This call is simply to introduce themselves and let them know they are looking forward to meeting them. From the new-hire’s perspective, however, it sends the message they are welcome and that you are just as excited as they are about their arrival.

In short, three simple actions any agency can take to engage new hires before they arrive. And, if there’s one thing you should remember is that it is easier to keep someone engaged than to get turn around a disengaged employee.

Dana Sims is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Thanks Jane! I got a buddy call when I took a job that had me moving several states away. That call made me feel even better about taking the job and pulling up stakes to move my family.