The Whiteboard: If you want new employees to stay, have a post-hiring plan
Business owners and managers spend much time thinking about how to hire good employees. But how much time is spent planning beyond the hiring success?
In my experience, the answer is very little.
Of course it is important to put great emphasis on finding good employees. Anyone in business today understands the challenge. When the recruitment process is completed, it feels really good to check off that accomplishment.
But that is a transactional way of looking at things. Strategically, there are not one, but three important and interconnected things to be accomplished with any new employee; hiring, integration and retention.
Good hiring practices will bring you people with good skills and attitudes. That’s a good start. From there and from the minute a new employee reports to work, everything that happens will affect integration and retention, either positively or negatively.
Day one of a person’s employment should also be day one of the company’s integration and retention processes. In my view, the way to begin is to immediately show the new employee that he or she has joined an organization that is welcoming, organized and competent.
I’ve been in organizations where coworkers don’t even know a new person is starting, and barely look up from what they are doing when they are introduced. The employee is like a new kid moving into a strange school. Conversely, I’ve been in organizations where everybody knows a new person is starting and everyone makes a point of welcoming the new hire. Someone in the new person’s work group is assigned to be a buddy, a guide, a lunch companion. That looks welcoming and organized.
The workspace is important. Empty workspaces often collect junk, including broken furniture which other employees swap out after scavenging the good stuff. Good computers or monitors are taken and replaced with old rejects. A new person being put in a workspace like that has to wonder if they’ve made a career mistake. A clean, well-organized space with proper equipment should be the minimum standard.
Lack of attention to technology can hamper integration. The new hire’s computer isn’t set up with the right software. He or she doesn’t have user names and passwords. Email hasn’t been set up in the office and there is no plan to set it up on the employee’s mobile device. The new person stumbles along finding one problem after another.
All essential technology should be ready to go on the first day with someone available to demonstrate it and trouble-shoot it for the new person. Each of these is a small thing but they add up to a picture of organization and competence.
Integration includes a training process designed to bring the new person up to speed quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, what sometimes passes for training is a brief, disorganized period of shadowing an experienced coworker, who may or may not be a competent or even willing trainer.
For every job description, there should be a first day, first week and first month training plan delivered by handpicked employees.
By the end of day one, an employee should know all the simple things like employee benefits, workplace policies and how the computer network is set up. During week one, training may start on company or job-specific software, quality policies, procedures, products and services. Safety may be an early training topic. By the end of month one, you want someone well-schooled in the basics of getting the job done in your organization, ready to add value with continued guidance.
Good hiring is critical, but don’t miss the strategic importance of the integration and retention processes.