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On-Boarding Employees (WHITE PAPER): Best Practices for a Great Start

Think back to your first day on the job. What sticks out in your memory? If you’ve been with your team for a while, you probably remember your Day One fondly; typically, employees who experience an engaging and structured on-boarding program are 58% more likely to stay with a company for at least three years.

The following information, based upon Roth Staffing Companies, L.P.’s “Best Place to Work” on-boarding practices and extensive research, explains how Top Employers on-board their employees and position them for success from Day One. Utilize these practices to reevaluate your internal programs and ensure that your on-boarding and Day One activities are cultivating top performers that will last.


Day 1 Lasts Longer than Day 1 

According to Forbes, roughly 40% of newly hired employees fail within 18 months— that’s nearly half of all new coworkers!   Additionally, 4% of new employees leave a job after an awful first day. Yet, new hires who go through a structured on-boarding and training program are nearly two-thirds more likely than their unwelcomed and untrained counterparts to stay with a company for more than three years.

Day One has a much more significant influence upon the long-term success and loyalty of a coworker than it may seem at first glance. Roth Staffing has found that most new employees decide if they feel at home within the first three weeks of joining an organization. Workplaces don’t have much time to make a good impression on its new hires.


The First 90 Days 

Assume your new employee is not really hired until 60-90 days after they start. Orchestrate an on-boarding plan that continues to “recruit” and excite your new employee while they are learning the required responsibilities of their role.

Research completed by the Society of Human Resource Management, or SHRM, indicates that employees have approximately 90 days to internalize the skill set, behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge to successfully fulfill their role. This means that the sooner organizations or departments are able to effectively integrate their new hires into the workplace culture and equip them with the tools necessary for success, the higher the probability of long-term achievement.

“Best Place to Work” companies and departments ensure that their newly hired employees hit the ground running from Day One by focusing on the factors that create top performers. This requires a careful study of your current top performers to discover what it is about their personality and their activity that makes them so good.

At Roth Staffing, new coworkers are treated as though they are still being recruited. This cultural integration and continued “recruiting” is interlaced with actionable tasks and performance; they are also given perspective on how each activity they complete fulfills the purpose of the company.


Successful On-Boarding: What Employees Want Most 

Roth Staffing’s research has found that new hires, particularly top performers, define success in four elements.

  1. I clearly understand my responsibilities and how success will be measured.
  2. I derive meaning and a sense of accomplishment from work.
  3. I feel like I am part of the company culture.
  4. I have built solid relationships with the team/department.


Describing the Role and What it Means to be Successful 

48% of people who quit within the first year say it was due to the unrealistic expectations of the job. “Unrealistic expectations” can refer to a variety of situations such as expecting employees to accomplish an impossible workload.

More often than not “unrealistic expectations” refers to employers failing to define the various elements involved in a coworker’s role from the start. Imagine a basketball coach telling a first-time player that he or she needed to win a game without explaining how to score a basket, run a play, and work with his or her teammates. The athlete would be completely lost and overwhelmed! The same concept applies to the workplace.

“Employers need to give their employees a roadmap to success if they expect them to realize their full potential,” says Leila Malekzadeh, On-Boarding & Integration Specialist for Roth Staffing Companies. “Employers should define coworkers’ roles throughout the candidate assessment and interviewing process so that employees know exactly what is expected of them when they walk through the door on Day One. Then, on a coworker’s first day, the manager should make it a point to sit down one-on-one with the new hire and review responsibilities, outcome expectations, the coworker’s career goals and strengths, and elements of the workplace culture.”

It’s essential for a new hire and his or her manager to regularly revisit this discussion within the first six months of an employee’s tenure, particularly at the pivotal 90-day mark, to ensure that the employer’s and coworker’s expectations continue to align. It is hard work for any department manager or executive level leader to invest time in on-boarding but scheduling time to be part of a new coworker’s first 90 days is well worth it in the long run. Employees crave time with managers.


Understanding the Broader Picture 

Top performers desire meaning in their roles and feel accomplished when they understand how their work affects the entire company. Employers can address this need through several strategies: 

  1. Give employees a work task to accomplish on Day One
  2. Provide a list of individual and team goals for the first week
  3. Outline a first-week itinerary to provide structure

Providing new hires a to-do list jumpstarts the positive momentum on the first day, and including the newly hired coworker on the team’s weekly goal sheet can demonstrate that he or she is already contributing to the broader group’s and company’s success.


Connecting with the Workplace Culture

Equipping new hires with the professional tools for success is just one part of the Day One puzzle. The other essential piece is the intangible cultural element; coworkers want to feel like they belong in the company environment.

“Best to Work For” workplaces make an impression by decorating a new hire’s desk or work station and fully stocking it with the necessary supplies like writing utensils and business cards. Small welcome gifts such as a company mug or padfolio can also go a long way toward demonstrating employee appreciation and that your team eagerly prepared for the new hire’s arrival.

“Pulling out the stops and decorating an employee’s desk is a great way to instantly bring new coworkers into the fold and show that your department and organization genuinely care about the employee’s wellbeing,” explains Theresa DelVecchio, a Market Director at Roth Staffing Companies. “At Roth Staffing, we always show the new coworker around the office and make introductions on the first day. When new hires are on a first name basis and familiar with everyone in the workplace by the end of Day One, they no longer feel like ‘the new person,’ they feel like part of the team.”


Forming Significant Connections 

SHRM has found that being unable to cultivate positive working relationships leads to a 60% fail rate. On the flip side, research demonstrates that 87% of the top on-boarding and training programs include mentoring. Having even one good friend in the workplace can increase retention by 25%!

Position new hires for success by implementing buddy and mentoring programs designed to be a resource for new coworkers. Depending on your department or organization, the mentoring program can be formal and structured or informal and casual. Inc. Magazine recommends experimenting with various types of mentoring such as group, peer, one-on-one, and reverse mentoring (where lower-level employees teach middle or upper management) to determine which style works best for new hires in your workplace.

In addition to forging new relationships, managers should ensure that Day One includes both a group lunch (open to the team and coworkers from other departments) and some time during the day for undivided attention from the new hire’s manager.

“22% of new employees decide whether to stay at an organization during their first week on the job, and one-on-one attention with a manager every day during the first week can make or break a new coworker’s experience,” says Roth Staffing Market Director Peggy Baggott. “Showing a new team member that they are your number one priority doesn’t just boost morale. It also provides an opportunity for them to ask clarifying questions, address concerns, give feedback about the new hire and on-boarding processes, and outline short- and long-term goals—all elements that are beneficial to the organization or department as well as the new employee.”


Salaried Employees Versus Hourly Coworkers 

Hourly workers reported that they were fully on board after an average of three and one half weeks, while supervisors described it as 3 months. This communicates a disconnect for hourly workers. Typically, on-boarding for new hourly employees is very passive and simply covers the basics, such as paperwork and rules. Utilizing the same techniques used for salaried employees for hourly employees can result in higher performance and lower turnover at all levels.


On-Boarding Affects the Bottom Line 

Proper on-boarding can result in a positive long term financial impact. A survey of sales professionals found that with proper on-boarding, they generated expected revenue 20 weeks sooner than those without. This drastic timeline reduction can mean thousands of dollars in profit gained for your department or organization, not to mention a long-lasting boost in team morale that might also translate into other financial achievements.

“Best to Work For” organizations take the time to implement helpful on-boarding processes that position their coworkers for success because it’s more than just the right thing to do. Roth Staffing has learned that when they equip their new hires with the tools to succeed, they reap the benefits as well. Lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction and engagement all contribute to our reputation as a “Top Employer.” And that equips us with top talent who wants to be part of your organization.


Sources: CareerBuilder, Forbes, Inc., Training magazine, Partnership for Public Service, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The Social Workplace, TalentBits, Sales Architects