Some recent articles have highlighted how engaged new hires have experienced a relatively quick descent into disengagement.
What happens in the new hire’s experiences with their new employer that causes disengagement to set in? We all know the costs of disengagement so to lose motivated and engaged new hires so quickly is alarming.
Our approach at etimes2 is that engagement is an individual outcome based on the employee’s experiences with an employer from the first day of interaction between the employer and the employee. The employee takes these experiences and learns from them – what is expected here?; are communications clear and honest; am I valued and respected? And, so on. The employee then chooses future behaviours based on these experiences.
In this article, I will consider the early stages of the recruitment process and the ‘promises’ it makes.
The First Day of Interaction
The first day of interaction between the employer and employee is the job advertisement which attracts the new recruit. Responsibility, development, interesting projects, challenging work and career enhancement are all on offer on top of perhaps a pay rise. These promises attract skilled applicants.
The promises made during the recruitment process are often not fulfilled. The intention is to fill a vacant post with little thought about the promises made. Are they even viewed by the employer as ‘promises’? They are certainly viewed as such by every applicant and they form a set of important expectations from the job and employer. It is these expectations that engages the applicants in the recruitment process. It is why they submit an application and go through the challenges of a selection process. They weigh the benefits of the expectations against the difficulties of applying for the job.
What is Happening to Create Such Expectations?
It is usually one of two things:
- The job role, the responsibilities, and the environment in which the role exists have not been accurately communicated.
- Linked to this, there can be a disconnect between what the employer wishes the job role to be and what actually happens at ground level. Often, this disconnect can be down to the line manager.
Impact on the New Hire
As I stated earlier, the vast majority of new hires start their new job as engaged employees full of enthusiasm and hope. After all, this might be the beginning of a successful chapter in their career.
Then the inaccurate promises made in the recruitment process start to fall apart. The promises of development and career enhancement and the requirements for a creative and innovative problem solver, for example, are quickly shown to be inaccurate. Was the real requirement for a paper pusher? How does your organisation view time off for development? Less valuable than pushing the paper?
The new hire soon experiences the impact of that deflating feeling as his/her career ambitions suffer a setback. Then decreasing motivation sets in followed by the onset of disengagement. A lack of commitment is evident as performance becomes patchy. The employee, in truth, feels let down by a process and people who should both know and do better. Then the employee suffers the indignity of being performance appraised by the very same people who should have done better.
Who is to Blame?
The disengaged employee is seen as being bad for business. However, the employee isn’t solely to blame here. Work needs to be done in many parts of an organisation, including recruitment, to build an engaged workforce.
Both employer and employee share responsibility for engagement. The employer’s role is to provide an engaging environment and the employee’s role is to address personal engagement issues.