EPMEPM: HR and Recruitment

Off and Running!

Dean Carpenter looks at how best to welcome a new staff member to ensure they stay with you for the long haul.

So, you have worked hard to find a candidate who is a perfect fit for your office and a great fit for the role. After some negotiations, the candidate has accepted your offer – this means the hard part is over, right? Wrong!

The next challenge is figuring out how to keep your new employee happy, engaged and around for the long-haul. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of businesses fail. With statistics showing one in four people recruited will leave a new employer within their first six months, there is an ever-increasing need to have a robust onboarding program in place.

While many businesses have an orientation or induction process that last a day, a week or even a month, a great onboarding process should start before the employee’s first day and last for six months.

Benefits of Onboarding
Businesses that have inadequate or ad-hoc onboarding processes run the risk of low employee engagement and high employee turnover. With employee turnover costs estimated to be anywhere between 50 per cent and 150 per cent of an employee’s annual salary, failing to onboard correctly can cost the business a great deal of time and money.

By delivering a robust onboarding process, the business will benefit from:

  • increased employee engagement, discretionary effort and performance
  • reduced turnover costs
  • integration of the new employee into the business’ culture
  • a more stable and productive business.

An effective onboarding process will also help new employees to:

  • feel welcome and in control
  • integrate quickly into their new work environment
  • actively contribute to the business more quickly
  • improve overall job satisfaction and long-term commitment
  • feel positive about your employment brand and business values.

Tips for a Great Onboarding Program
When creating your onboarding program, consider these tips to improve the retention of quality employees.

Begin the process early
Prior to your new employee commencing, develop a tailored plan for their first days and weeks in the new role. The plan doesn’t need to be complicated – overall, you need to welcome your new starter, show them how they fit into the big picture for your business and let them know what’s expected of them.

A structured schedule of activities that encompasses an overview of the business and how it works will allow your new starter to hit the ground running.

  • Highlight the values of the business with a session on the history and culture.
  • Provide an overview of the business structure, strategy and goals.
  • Set up meetings with the people they’ll need to know to do their job properly.
  • Arrange any necessary training around processes, procedures and systems.
  • Consider involving the new employee in conversations and emails before their first ‘official’ day on the job to reduce first day anxiety.

Get the basics right
Make sure you get the basics right and avoid leaving preparations for the new arrival to the last minute. The last thing a new starter needs to hear on their first day is “we’re still creating space for you” or “your computer will be here in a few days”. If the essentials are not in place your new starter may be left to feel unwelcome and unproductive.

In the lead-up to a new employee commencing, you have an opportunity to create a positive impression by:

  • ensuring the new starter has received all hiring-related paperwork (contracts, tax, super, etc)
  • having a workspace set up and ready to go prior to start date
  • liaising with your IT provider to ensure all required systems have been set up (phone, computer, passwords, etc)
  • communicating details of the new starter to the broader business.

Keep in mind that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The onboarding period provides a great opportunity to make sure that the new starter feels welcome, valued and prepared for what lies ahead.

Extend a warm welcome
The first day at a new job can be a daunting experience. Avoid making the first day about paperwork and prioritise relationship-building with key people they’ll need to know to do their job properly.

Consider assigning the new starter a ‘buddy’ – an experienced team member with a strong knowledge of the business who can act as the ‘go to’ person for the new starter, allowing for a smoother and quicker integration into the business.

This day of first impressions will have an enormous impact on the employee experience, so make it a good one.

Spread out the onboarding process
Responsibility for the onboarding process can be shared across the business, with different tasks being completed by different team members. For example, the owner of the business might provide an overview of the business’ history, the direct manager can work with the employee to set some objectives for the first, third and six months, while their buddy provides an orientation around the office and assists in the transfer of knowledge related to the role.

Having different levels within the business involved in the onboarding process can help speed up the integration process and demonstrate that the business is committed to thorough training and development.
However, be careful not to bombard the new team member with copious amounts of information on their first day – consider providing information on an ongoing basis over the first few weeks.

Touch base regularly
As a guide, the employee’s direct manager should be meeting with the new employee at the end of the first day, end of the first week and end of the first, second, third and six months. These meetings should be scheduled on the employee’s first day; be sure to stick to the program.

Managers can utilise these meetings as a two-way feedback session, to track how the employee is progressing towards agreed objectives and develop an action plan for the coming weeks.

In Summary
It’s been proven that happy and engaged employees are more productive employees. So, if you’re looking to drive bottom line results with a best practice approach to people management, it’s time to get ‘onboard’.

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