What Makes New Employees Happy at Work Is Shocking

I really wonder why things like employee turnover, retention and employee engagement are so important when only 32% of companies have formal processes to onboard their new employees. We, as recruiters, leaders and managers fail to prepare our new employees for their challenges and jobs at work. So we end up wasting time on more important things like interviewing new talent and filling the leaky bucket, dealing with employees issues and other workplace performance drama that could have been nipped in the bud from day one with our employees.

The Secret to Happy Employees at Your Workplace

We all want to feel valued in the relationships that we have either or personal or professional, and work is one of the most time consuming and involved relationships we will ever have. We spend more awake time with our co-workers than we do with our own family. Working at a company is a lot like being married and for those of us to have had horrible first marriages like me, I committed to learning from my mistakes. I also committed to being more cautious and being absolutely sure the guy I was marrying the second time around was really for me. While my marriage isn’t perfect, who’s is? Work is absolutely the same way. We have our good days. We have our bad with the goal that there are more good days than the bad ones, and we enjoy what we do and the people we work with for the most part every day.

38% of New Hires Want to Be Challenged at Work

So when we commit to that new workplace relationship after having been jilted at the altar or have a fresh bad experience in our heads, we are extremely cautious but optimistic in selecting our new workplace. That first day of your marriage at work sets the tone for everything. The key to a great new hire experience and workplace relationship is being challenged by work. That is the key.


The challenge with a new job is that it’s a transitional period for you as well as your employer. While they are extremely excited about your new role at their organization, darn things like meetings, vacations, process and obtained the dreaded employee logins get in the way. Also, I don’t feel challenged at all when I sit in an 8 hour employee orientation that’s makes watching peeling paint sound extremely entertaining.

What makes new hires and employees happy at work is really simple which is why it’s so shocking. There is no million dollar employee survey implementation you have to do and wait 4 months for results so that you can build a strategy. Talk to them. Keep them engaged. Give them meaningful things to do. Ask them for their feedback. All these things start with a relationship and a conversation between the direct line managers and the employee you’ve just hired. Get started with that conversation which leads to more employee engagement and better productivity and workplace happiness today


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Competency Toolkit says

    Insightful article Jessica. Couldn’t agree more on your point about onboarding; per Aberdeen, onboarding is the leading area of talent management that impacts retention (17%). Honestly, if Aberdeen’s New Hire Positive Experience Drivers survey involves respondents selecting more than one driver, I’m shocked ‘challenged by work’ isn’t higher than 38%. It’s critical that organizations and leaders clearly and accurately define the tasks and expectations for a given role (including cultural alignment), and candidates/new hires demand this to ensure the role will be challenging and a good fit. Looking forward to the webinar!


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