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How to Value Existing Employees as Much as New Hires

May 21, 2019

Do you remember the days when banks would offer awesome, shiny new products to new customers?

Banks gave away free slow cookers, 150-piece Tupperware sets, and 800-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. It was a great time to be a new customer for big banks back then, but what were they offering their loyal customers who’d already gotten their slow cookers many years before? Nothing — unless you count fees, fines, and penalties as “gifts.”

In the business world, a lot of companies are still offering their versions of fabulous sheet sets to their new hires while leaving their long-standing, existing employees in the corner without any rewards for their efforts and achievements through the years. Sure, it’s great to be a new person who’s onboarded into an organization that showers you with love on your very first day. But this can also lead to resentment and disengagement from the people who have put in their time and have grown along with your company.

It’s the classic older child syndrome playing out in your workplace.

Is it possible your company is doting on new employees without realizing it’s creating friction within your existing teams? Let’s take a look at a few ways you can show value to your existing employees, too.

1. Involve them in the interview process

There are plenty of ways to involve existing employees in the interview process.

If you’re open to including one or two long-term employees in a group setting, this can be a great way to build their skills since a seasoned interviewer will likely be taking the lead. In this case, set up a time before the interview to meet with your employees and go through the questions they’d like to ask. Make sure those questions remain consistent across candidates so you’re sticking to a structured interview process. Remember, your candidates’ soon-to-be co-workers have their fingers on the pulse of the team differently than you do, so it’s important to get their perspectives on potential new hires.

Some companies are comfortable allowing existing employees to conduct one-on-one interviews with their candidates. These scenarios typically take place in businesses that require candidates to go through several rounds of interviews. One-on-ones with existing employees are great for several reasons:

  • The employees feel empowered and important enough to be the face of the company during their scheduled interview.
  • Existing employees can ask structured questions that are more role-specific than some the candidate might get from HR – they know the work best so it’s easier to gauge how well responses align with the day-to-day tasks of the role.
  • The candidate will usually feel more comfortable asking different types of questions than he or she would if the interview only included executives or hiring managers.

Including existing employees in the interview process is a great way to establish rapport early on in colleagues’ working relationships. When the right candidate is chosen, he or she will feel more comfortable with familiar faces from Day One. If someone won’t be a good fit from the get-go, HR can screen out other candidates until you find the person who’ll fit best with your team.

2. Invite them to help with onboarding

This one’s tricky. The key here is to invite existing employees to help with onboarding; making it mandatory can cause a different kind of distress within your culture. Some people simply don’t want to be involved in offering their time, energy, and talent to newbies.

In most cases, that’s going to be fine because there’s usually someone who will step up and want to help. For high-producers who don’t want to be involved with onboarding, you’ll probably be doing yourself a favor by letting them stay out of the process.

Make sure employees know it’s a voluntary effort, but that their efforts and opinions are valued. After all, they’re the ones who know the ins and outs of the organization and their specific roles.

3. Create committees

The day-to-day humdrum can get pretty old for people who have been there a while. Enable them to own something that’s not related to the work you’re paying them to do. This can bolster engagement and create greater unity among different teams. Here are some ideas:

  • Fun Committee. Employees can choose activities that bring people together. Even organizations with small budgets can plan potlucks or lunch-on-the-lawn days. If you have a bigger budget? Catered lunches, food trucks, and hamster balls can be a ton of fun.
  • Newsletter Committee. Bring your departments together with a representative from each team. The cohesion can create a lot of goodwill throughout the company.
  • Employee Engagement Committee. How can coworkers recognize each other for being awesome? Wonderlic has an employee recognition program that allows co-workers to create “impressions” for specific areas of excellence – team player, problem solver, and innovation, to name a few. The employee with the most impressions each month gets a gift card and a shout-out in the company newsletter. Your people probably have a lot of great ideas. Leverage them!

Any type of committee offers existing employees the ability to share their own insight about the company and bridges communications gaps. It also enables your people to get creative and embark on their own personal passions in brand new ways.

Jessica Haig, M.A., is the Manager of Consulting at Wonderlic and a charter member of the company’s Wellness Guild.

What are the ways that have worked for your company to recognize the value of existing employees? Let us know in the comments below.

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