Your employees’ experience begins before their first day of work and continues long after their exit. Here’s how to engage your talent at every step along the way.

When you think of your “brand,” you probably think of the face that you present to consumers — but how you come across to prospective employees is just as important. The impressions and experiences of past, present, and future employees make up your employer brand, which in turn determines your ability to recruit and retain top talent.

Enhancing your employer brand is all about building an engaging employee experience — a process that begins before a new hire has even applied for a position, and extends beyond the exit interview. Follow these seven tips to enhance your employees’ experience from start to finish.

1. Think Critically about Employee Branding

Before you’ve even listed a job opening or had a single application hit your inbox, you can start attracting potential candidates by developing a reputation as a great place to work. Look to Google as an example; their mind-blowing perks and famously exciting work environment has top talent lining up for the opportunity to work there.

While employee gyms and three free gourmet meals a day may be out-of-reach amenities for companies without a Google-sized budget, emulating the tech giant’s employee-first attitude will prove a valuable asset in your recruitment efforts, putting your company on the right track to attract great employees.

2. Create a Positive Application Experience

Whether you decide to hire a given candidate or not, it is important to ensure that your recruiters are responsive and treat your applicants graciously at every stage of the process. Even if you opt not to interview or extend an offer to an applicant, a polite “thanks for applying” email will let them know that you appreciate their time.

Making candidates feel valued and respected will leave them with a positive impression of your company, making them likely to accept your offer or to apply again one day should you choose not to extend one.

3. Set Talent Up for Success with Thorough Onboarding Processes

Like the first day of school, the first day at a new job can be overwhelming and intimidating, even for the most experienced new hires. Help ease your new employees into success at your company by providing them with a seamless experience from the start. While a prepared PowerPoint is a good jumping-off point for introducing new hires to your company’s vision and culture, the most valuable insights often come when you go off-book.

Remember that even the simplest questions need answering: show your new hires where the coffee maker and copy machine are — and how to use them. Make them feel that you are available as a resource to them for further questions or difficulties that they run into. Go so far as to almost annoy them with the frequency of your check-ins, rather than make them feel that they’ve annoyed you with their questions!

4. Give Employees a Reason to Stay

Make work more than just a job. Connecting tasks to your organization’s larger goals makes employees feel that their role is valuable on a macro level (because it is!). When employees feel that they are a valued member of a team working toward a common goal, they are more likely to feel engaged with their work and motivated to continue growing.

Develop a team-like rapport within your company by fostering a supportive environment and giving employees opportunities to develop friendships and get to know each other — Google uses intramural sports to accomplish this, creating teams in the most literal sense! If your office is too small to fill out a roster, sponsoring happy hours can be an easy way to cultivate friendships.

5. Actively Develop Talent

Become a talent incubator by encouraging employees to take on new, challenging assignments while providing them with the resources they need to succeed, regardless of what you throw at them. Implementing a mentor-mentee program can be one way of accomplishing this: consider pairing new or less experienced employees with others who have previously been in their role.

When your employees grow with and because of your company, they will be more likely to stay on board and continue to develop their skills. When you develop top talent, you retain top talent, as well.

6. Learn from Exits

Use exit interviews as an opportunity to understand why people leave and what could make them stay. While employees’ reasons for leaving one job for another are usually multifaceted and cannot be boiled down to one simple “should have” or “could have” statement, your employees’ feedback in these situations is invaluable to understanding what it is like to work for your organization.

Record the intel you gather during these meetings, and take note of any recurring complaints or patterns. Use the information that you gather to tangibly improve the employee experience and work to improve retention in the future.

7. Maintain Connections with Former Employees

Build alumni networks that allow former employees to stay in touch, and encourage them to refer new hires to your organization. No one better knows what type of person would be a good fit for your company than someone who has already worked there.

Maintaining goodwill and positive relationships with your former employees can yield some of your best new employees — and even future business opportunities, if a former employee goes on to work for another organization that could use your company’s services. Remember that an employee’s experience doesn’t necessarily end at the exit interview, and work to nurture relationships with every employee who parts ways with your organization.

Author Reuben Weiss

As People Operations Manager, Reuben works to unify L&T's business and talent strategies. He believes that an organization is only as good as its people, and he strives to create a culture that supports L&T’s top asset. Prior to working at L&T, Reuben consulted for various organizations ranging from Fortune 20 corporations to nonprofits. He has also facilitated trainings on executive coaching, effective communication, mindful awareness practices, and working with personality assessments. He holds an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a B.A. from UCLA. In his free time, he enjoys exploring bodegas, sauntering, drinking seltzer, and doing yoga.

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