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On-Boarding Employees: Best Practices for a Great Start

Starting off on the right foot is no accident. It requires careful planning and implementation to ensure that all new hires feel welcome, equipped, and motivated to perform at their best. Typically, employees who experience an engaging and structured on-boarding program the moment they start are 58% more likely to stay with a company for at least three years.

Inc., Forbes, and Quandora all report similar versions of what employees desire from their employers;  “feeling important/ valued” always comes out on top, even more important than wages. It is imperative to instill this feeling in your employees beginning with their very first day and continuing throughout those crucial first few months. A structured on-boarding program demonstrates that you are invested and excited to have them.

More than warm fuzzies, on-boarding practices pay off and position your newest employees for success from the start. With formal on-boarding, 77% of new hires met their first performance milestone, compared to only 49% without formal on-boarding.

Utilize the practices discussed in this White Paper to reevaluate your internal “new hire” programs and ensure that your On-boarding activities are cultivating top performers who will last.

Get a visual snapshot of On-Boarding best practices with our INFOGRAPHIC.

Successful On-Boarding: What Employees Want Most

Roth Staffing Companies’ 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.

But 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. The 4 elements listed should be addressed on the first day, don’t let your new hires question if they made the right decision choosing your organization.

Understanding Responsibilities and Measuring Success

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.

“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.”

More often than not “unrealistic expectations” refers to employers failing to define the various tasks or areas of  responsibility involved in a coworker’s role from the start. Psychological Contracts are the mutual expectations employees and managers have for one another, many go unsaid and most go beyond the paycheck. These psychological contracts have a major effect on employee perceptions of fairness. Discuss with your employees their expectations and have defined (even documented) expectations for one another.

Outline what you both perceive as successful practices and milestones, and the steps required to reach those. This will increase accountability for both sides and serve as a reference point if anything goes awry.

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.

Meaning and Sense of Accomplishment

Employees 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 gives them a mental satisfaction boost when they cross something off. 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.

Lead a team discussion, including new hires, about the role your organization plays on a larger level. How does your business give back to the community? Why does your team come to work every day?

Connecting with the Workplace Culture

Equipping new hires with the professional tools for success is just one part of the Day One puzzle. Their email, phone, desk, and other tools should be set up and ready for them, but the other essential piece is the intangible cultural element: coworkers want to feel like they belong in the company environment.

Before their first day, send them a note (preferably handwritten) expressing your genuine excitement for them to start. Give them a small heads up on what to expect on their first day, including things like lunch plans. It’s a simple touch that can get them jazzed for their first day.

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.”

From there, set milestones, create fun quizzes, and give rewards as new employees demonstrate knowledge of the company and their new role.

Building Solid Relationships

SHRM has found that being unable to cultivate positive working relationships leads to a 60% failure rate. On the flip side, research demonstrates that 87% of the top on-boarding and training programs include mentoring.

Position new hires for success by implementing buddy and mentoring programs designed to be a resource for new coworkers. Having even one good friend in the workplace can increase retention by 25%!

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.

“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 Vice President 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 onboarding processes, and outline short- and long-term goals—all elements that are beneficial to the organization or department as well as the new employee.”

Day One is Just the Beginning

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.

You don’t have to throw them a party or hover over them, but be sure to meet their needs and be patient as they learn new skills and practices unique to your organization – it’s a lot of information.

The Next 89 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 about the company 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.

At Roth Staffing, new coworkers are treated as though they are still being recruited – new hires are sent special messages, small gifts, and lots of recognition for any training or milestones they complete. 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.

What about Hourly Coworkers?

According to SHRM, hourly workers reported that they felt fully on board after an average of three and one half weeks. However, supervisors considered hourly employees on-boarded at 3 months. This demonstrates a disconnect for hourly workers. Typically, onboarding for new hourly employees is very passive and simply covers the basics, such as paperwork and rules. However, utilizing the same techniques used for salaried employees can result in higher performance and lower turnover at all levels.

On-Boarding and 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. Hiring manager satisfaction also increased with formal on-boarding to 20%, compared to -3% without formal on-boarding.

Top 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. “Every new hire is an opportunity to improve the engagement statistics,” says Amy Bastuga, VP of Human Resources at Radio Flyer, “A poor early employment experience can contribute to the epidemic of disengagement at the cost of high turnover. A positive experience is critical for retaining the talent you recruit and for driving performance.”

Roth Staffing has experienced it first-hand … when we equip our new hires with the tools to succeed, the employer reaps the benefits as well. Lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction and engagement are all a result of formal, enthusiastic on-boarding. Don’t just create an on-boarding plan, ensure your managers know how to implement the plan and have a method for ensuring your on-boarding plan was applied to each new hire.

 

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About Roth Staffing Companies, L.P.

Roth Staffing Companies is one of the largest privately-held staffing companies in the country, operating from more than 100 locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia via six specialized business lines: Ultimate Staffing Services, the 11th largest admin/clerical staffing company in the country, Ledgent Finance & Accounting, Adams & Martin Group, Ledgent Technology & Engineering, and About Talent.  The organization is also affiliated with Ultimate Locum Tenens. 

Roth Staffing Companies stands as the only firm in the industry ever ranked #1 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing, privately-owned companies, and is the only one to receive all of the industry’s most prestigious honors in a single year, accomplishing this feat for two consecutive years.  The organization is consistently ranked among the 50 largest staffing companies in the country.

Visit www.rothstaffing.com for more information or call (714) 939-8600.