The low unemployment rate and lack of unskilled workers is creating a huge problem for companies that are in growth mode. And companies need to be mindful that a large portion of their top performers are playing with the thought of leaving to join another firm. A recent Gallup study found that more than half of all employees (51%) are actively searching for a new opportunity elsewhere.
One of the most important things a company can do to increase their chances of keeping their best employees is to make a good first impression starting on day one.
Many companies drop the ball in this area and pay a huge price such as low employee morale and lower productivity. And if things are really handled unprofessionally, the new employee will decide they don’t want any part of what they thought was a good next career move.
It is imperative that companies take the on-boarding process seriously. Put a plan in place and then work the plan! I’d like to outline some of the key steps that need to be in every good on-boarding process, knowing that every company and position might lead to the process looking a bit different. Here we go!
- Well-defined job description: It ceases to amaze me how many companies bring on new employees and haven’t defined their job well. The hiring manager, along with their HR support, should put time and effort into writing a clear job description. This should be explained to the employee well before they start their new role. New employees want to know what is expected of them and help them so they can hit the ground running.
- First-day introductions: I believe it is important for the new employee’s boss to be in the office on the employee’s first day. This shows the new employee that their boss values them. The boss should also introduce the new employee to all team members and plan to have lunch with them on the first day of employment. Needless to say, there might be an emergency that hinders this but it shouldn’t be due to a manager’s oversight. If the manager can’t be there, they should assign someone to act in their stead.
- Tour of the company: Someone should be assigned to showing the new employee around the facility. If the company is small, this shouldn’t be a problem. A bit more planning needs to be made if the company is large. Try to put yourself in the employee’s shoes: what would I have wanted to know about or see at the company when I just started? Restrooms, cafeteria, company gym, banking, etc.
- Week-one-agenda: This can but doesn’t need to be a formal document. Think about whom the new employee should meet during their first week on the job. Maybe it’s an employee in a different department or building with whom they will have to interact with in the future. Maybe there are meetings that they should sit in on, even if they’re not an active participant. Possibly, there are video or conference calls that would be beneficial for them to participate in. Start putting their agenda together a week before they arrive, not the night before. If someone is not available during the first week, maybe you add him or her to week two. Again, this exercise will show the new employee you care about them and their success.
- Work equipment and supplies: Have you thought about where the employee will have their desk? Will they have a company computer that works on day one? There is nothing more frustrating than having a computer that won’t allow you to log in and no IT person around who can help you fix the problem. Make sure their desk has been cleaned and provide the basic supplies you think the employee will need. If you have a supply room, give them a tour. Does their office phone work properly? Their job might require a uniform or lab coat. Have these been ordered? What about a parking pass or employee ID? All mundane things you will need to think about and get right before your new employee arrives.
- Business cards: Because you have clarified and agreed to the employee’s job description and title well before their first day of work, it is a wonderful gesture to order the employee’s business cards before they start. Find out what they want on the card and have them ready on their desk when they arrive. This is something small but will make a great impression on your new employee.
- Benefits: Your HR Department should be on top of this and nothing you need to worry about. If they are not and something falls through the cracks, you’ll have a frustrated employee who just got a taste of your company’s incompetence. If you or others on your team have experienced issues in the past, it will be your responsibility to discuss this with your HR resource well before your new employee steps through the door.
- Assign a mentor: If you’re bringing on a young, inexperienced employee, it might be worthwhile to assign a mentor to them. This might be someone 5-7 years older than they are who still remembers what it was like starting off in their career. Maybe they’re not called a mentor but rather, a “buddy”. Someone who checks up on them, sees how they are doing and shares about their own learning process at your company.
- Training: Your new employee may need some training to better equip them to do their new role. Well in advance of them starting figure out what training your new employee will need and find out dates that the training is being offered and if you can sign them up for it.
- Behavioral assessments: If your company uses a behavioral assessment tool I would recommend, as part of the on-boarding process, that both the new employee and his or her manager complete an assessment and then the results are shared with both of them in a joint meeting. This way they will learn about the other at an early stage of their relationship and it will put this relationship on a solid foundation. Knowing how someone is “wired” brings a lot of clarity into the relationship and can help to limit frustrations that are inherent in any relationship. If you want to know more about this powerful on-boarding step, let me know.
If you’re looking for a competitive advantage over your competition and a way to retain your best talent, start off right by crossing your “T’s” and dotting your “I’s” in your on-boarding process.