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What Do We Do With The New Guy/Girl? On-Boarding in 2018

By Andy Mcnulty

What would the last new employee at your organization say to her spouse, at the end of the day, upon returning home and being asked: “So…how was it?”

Would she say: “It was unbelievable! They had my desk ready, my business cards printed, my computer all set up. I got a tour of the whole facility by the regional manager. They ordered in lunch for the department and we got to know each other. I spent time with five different people in five different departments so now I know what they do, and I know I can go to them any time I have a question or an issue with something…”

Or…would it be something like: “Well…it was OK. I mean, my boss is nice. I didn’t get much time with her. I sat in on some meetings, but I didn’t really know what they were talking about. I didn’t really get introduced. They just said, ‘Everyone, this is Alice. Alice, this is everyone.’ I wonder if that other place that offered me a position is still interested…”

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been the new person, and most of us have had a bad experience being the new person. Many of us have been the person responsible for the new person… which means many of us have been responsible for the new person’s bad experience.

Why is that? Why is this such a glaring and common problem with so many of our companies? When the biggest issue for most employers is finding and keeping good people, why wouldn’t we pull out all the stops to make sure they stay and they work out?

Every company we work with expresses the same concerns about not being able to find enough good people. And it’s no surprise. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in over ten years and is trending downward. There simply aren’t enough people for the jobs that exist. People know they can always go somewhere else to find more work.

We’ve all heard the statistics associated with turnover. Some sources will argue that the cost of turnover is ten times the overall compensation of the departing employee. Whether it’s ten times or two times, it makes for hard times.

The numbers don’t lie. A 2009 study by the Aberdeen Group of senior executives and HR staffing and recruiting functions found that 86 percent of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. Correspondingly, onethird of approximately 1,000 respondents to a February 2014 survey by BambooHR said they had quit a job within six months of starting it. Between 16-17 percent of the respondents left between the first week and the third month of starting their new job.

Although you may have never known the actual data associated with this epidemic, you likely are part of an organization that is affected by it. One study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, (SHRM), in a company that was losing 200 employees per year, each with an average compensation package of $75,000, found that the annual cost of turnover was $8,200,000. That’s pretty bad news. The good news is, cutting that in half, would require very little investment of resources.

Don’t have an on-boarding program? Fine. Even a bad one is better than none, and it will dramatically impact your employee retention. Think about it: you don’t need to be an HR professional to create a basic schedule that covers most of what you and your management team believe to be valuable, necessary information that will create a solid foundation upon which your new employees will be able to build their careers.

Are their business cards printed and ready? Is the work area cleaned, organized and prepared? Is there a functioning computer with the necessary logins and access? Does it look like any thought or preparation has been given to their arrival?

These don’t have to be elaborate programs requiring sophisticated software programs and weeks of planning meetings with rewrites and follow-ups. This is typically done with one orchestrated meeting involving all department heads who are responsible for all personnel. Whether a new employee is working on the shop floor, or in the accounting department, most of what they need to be exposed to during an onboarding program is the same. Think about it: what would you like them to be exposed to in their first week or two?

  1. Customer Service
  2. Human Resources
  3. Inside / Outside Sales
  4. Production
  5. Safety
  6. Maintenance
  7. Operations
  8. Accounting
  9. Shipping/Receiving
  10. Information Technology

They don’t need to know everything there is to know about each area. But if they got to spend 30 minutes or so, with an actual employee of each area, they not only get to learn about that department and how it is affected by – or how it affects – the operation, they also get to know another person at this strange, new place.

The new employee is nervous. For whatever the reason, he or she has left a previous employer and is now trying to navigate the uncharted waters of your organization. Everyone is new. Everyone knows everybody. And everyone knows what to do and how to do it. Everyone else that is. So any chance to spend some one-on-one time, with a variety of new people, will not only help in the professional transition, but also the personal one. And the sooner the new employee feels comfortable and safe, the sooner that new employee will feel like this is a good place to work…and to do good work.

Because we don’t just want them to stay. We want them to stay and succeed. We want them to excel. We want them to want to come to work, to feel valued, and to be a part of something special. So special in fact, that they fully believe they can’t get that special feeling anywhere else. And then, when the next new person is hired, they will want to be involved in helping that new person feel the same special feeling they felt. That’s when you know you’ve got a successful process in place.

So look around. Who is the newest person in your operation? Take a few minutes to solicit some candid feedback from that person to see how he or she felt about his or her first few days. How did it compare to the last company? What could have been done differently? And what does that person feel like is still lacking from the perspective of how the business runs and what the people do? And if the results are pretty poor, ask yourself, why is that person still here? How could he or she be successful at the job with that kind of introduction to the organization? Then you’ll be ready to examine exactly how to make sure every person who gets hired from that point forward, is brought on board the right way.

Ask yourself how you want the next new person to respond, when she arrives at home after her first day at your organization, and her spouse says: “So…how was it?”

Andy McNulty, founding partner of Communication Performance Management Associates, created the customizable MHEDA on-boarding program which is provided FREE to all members.