According to recent data, more that 25 percent of the U.S. population changes careers every year—yet the same study suggests that half of all hourly workers leave their new job within the first four months, and half of senior outside hires “fail” within 18 months.
These are rather daunting—not to mention costly—figures, aren’t they? So what’s the seemingly ubiquitous problem with companies all across the U.S.?
If you’re losing new hires, or disappointed with their performance, make sure you are developing sound onboarding strategies and avoiding these four common blunders:
1. Using the “firehose approach”
This is a phrase succession consultant Doris Sims uses to describe dumping information on new employees and seeing if they “sink or swim” under its weight.
2. Providing only “tactical information”
In other words, are you only providing micro or hyper-focused information that lacks context to the employee? Does the employee have a larger sense of purpose and understand why s/he is doing what s/he is doing?
3. Failing to have the team member’s work space prepared
Does the new employee have a desk, phone, computer, printer? Do all of them work properly? Does she have to spend the first week spinning around in her chair, waiting for the IT person to show up?
4. Having a blase attitude towards orientation
Telling the employee that the orientation “might not be very helpful to you,”—or worse, not even having a new employee onboarding program is a surefire way to begin on the wrong foot.
If your employee onboarding strategy could use a facelift, here are a few questions you might ask yourself:
Why do we celebrate when employees leave the company and not when they join it?
How many of us will happily take a valued colleague out to lunch or meet at a pub after work to celebrate her promotion or retirement? This is certainly a fine gesture, but why don’t we introduce new employees to the company in the same way we say “farewell” to our veterans?
You’ve made the written rules clear—how about the unwritten ones?
The day the new employee signs the contract, he is given a three-ring binder containing a 100-page handbook. It explains the company’s policy on diversity, the open-door policy and counseling, safety procedures, the company’s mission statement, and all the other perfunctory (but no less necessary) details.
But what about the unique and unwritten nuances each company has like, say, the company’s confusing chain of command? Is the employee aware of the “normal” hours of operation? Does she know that she can take two 15-minute breaks or skip them and leave early? What sort of “fun” is socially acceptable in the office? Should the new hire take risks and assert herself? Through intuition, your new employee will learn to read these unwritten codes—or not. But why not identify these codes from the get-go and give her a head start?
Are you giving your new employees a head start?
Successful onboarding strategies begin before the new hire’s first day of work. It’s universal: The first day of any new job is intimidating for anyone. Try quelling those initial fears by giving the employee any initial paperwork before she shows up on the first day.
Here’s another idea: give the employee a phone call the day before they start and tell her where to park, who she will be meeting with and what the day’s agenda will look like? And while you’re at it, why not assign the new employee to a specific colleague who can act as a resource?
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*This list has been adapted from Doris Sims’ book, Creative Onboarding Programs: Tools for Energizing Your Orientation Program.