For most employees, the first year in a new job is pure bliss. They’re excited about a new challenge, revel in making new friends with coworkers, and feel motivated to prove their worth to the organization!
But as things become more familiar, the good vibes begin to fade. The new car smell fades, and processes start to feel old and stale. Research shows that employee engagement drops considerably during an employee’s second and third years with the organization.
But there are ways managers can combat that trend and preserve the honeymoon feeling. If they’re intentional about continually challenging and growing employees, they can not only avoid the engagement crash, but instead give engagement a boost. Use these five tips to get there.
- Cross-training: By year two, employees pretty much have their core duties down pat. They may no longer feel challenged by their day-to-day work. Continually enhance each employee’s skills with a new machine, software, or technique. Challenge them to think of ways to improve current processes and encourage them to learn new practices through conferences, webinars, or online training sessions.
- Incrementally increase the challenges they face: Don’t throw everything at a new employee right off the bat. This will not only avoid overwhelming them, but it leaves room for growth in the future. Build up their skills and exposure over time, then provide them with opportunities to put their learnings to the test with advanced responsibilities.
- Provide new opportunities outside the scope of their job: Invite an employee to a meeting that might not directly affect their day-to-day work, but exposes them to a different part of the organization. Encourage them to set up the next team outing, organize an office potluck, or plan a volunteer project. These off-brand jobs give employees a sense of accountability and add to their daily duties
- Change the scope of 1-on-1 meetings: If every monthly or quarterly meeting you have is the same, they’ll quickly become dull, borderline pointless exercises. Spice things up by asking new questions so your 1-on-1s don’t become stale. Ask about the employee’s development and what they’re doing to acquire new skills and/or knowledge. Discover their goals, both in the short and long term, then discuss ways you can help them achieve them.
- Vary up your recognition: Celebrating a new employee for his or her first sale is a big deal and boosts engagement. But doing the same thing after the 50th sale won’t have nearly the same effect – in fact, duplicated recognition can actually decrease engagement. Be intentional about evolving recognition as employees grow. Recognize them for increased efficiency (ex: accomplishing a task in half the time it took them when they first came on) or for new ideas they bring to the table. This varied recognition keeps it fresh and motivates employees to keep pushing.