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A Year of 'Touch Points'

A program from Michael C. Fina incorporates 13 “touch points” during the employee’s first year.

September 26, 2008
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Just 5 months old, the early-engagement program from employee recognition company Michael C. Fina is too new for clients to measure results, but the company is certain it knows what bonds employees with their new organizations.

uAccording to the company’s research, early engagement involves nine elements:

uEmployees must believe in the mission, vision and values of the company.

uEmployees must understand the corporate strategy.

uCompanies must provide employees with learning opportunities.

uManagers must foster strong relationships with employees.

uManagers must foster strong employee-to-employee relationships.

uManagers must help employees define goals and understand expectations.

uManagers must ensure that employees understand the value of performance reviews.

uManagers and the company must recognize the value of each employee.

uManagers and the company must create a real sense of value for employees.

Based on these nine elements, Fina’s program incorporates 13 “touch points” during the employee’s first year. Most of the touch points are e-mail or multimedia messages focusing on recognition and feedback. Small branded gifts are given, however, on the first day of employment and thereafter according to the employer’s preferences. “It’s a one-source total recognition strategy that aligns with a company’s onboarding strategy,” says Jeffrey Fina, the company’s vice president. “It’s a tool to help get employees engaged from day one.”

Fina says that if the program’s nine elements are effectively communicated, the employee “has the greatest chance of engagement” from the start.

The last reward in the program is given just before the employee’s one-year milestone. “It’s up to the company to provide one-year [service] recognition,” Fina says.

Employee start dates dictate both the timing and the contents of the e-mail and multimedia messages. On day one, a message might ask if the employee feels welcome, how the recruiting process felt and other first-day questions.

At the six-month mark, the employee could be asked if the job meets expectations, if the right tools for the job are available, if he or she understands the job.

“Touch points are completely customizable, and when they occur [is] up to the company,” Fina says. “But the most important aspect is that they occur frequently.”

On the same schedule as the employee, managers get messages that request feedback and identify employee achievements.

“This helps foster the relationship between managers and employees,” Fina says. “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”

Fina’s program is based on the characteristics of Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, who are the newest generation entering the workforce.

“Generation Y’s expectations are very different from Generation X and the boomers,” Fina says. “It’s more about them. If they do something for a company, they expect something in return.”

Without constant tit-for-tat exchanges with employers, Millennial employees don’t feel appreciated.

“By the time a [Millennial] worker is 40 years old, he or she will have changed jobs 10 times, so they are changing jobs every two years,” Fina says.

Given that the first 18 months of a job is when an employee is most likely to jump ship, Fina says that engagement has to start on the first day of employment, “if not before.”

Workforce Management, September 22, 2008, p. 29 -- Subscribe Now!

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