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New Employees: Schmooze Them or Lose Them?

my first day

my first day

By Maurice Gilbert

One of my favorite classic New Yorker cartoons features a host and hostess in the doorway of their apartment. They’re greeting a new guest, while behind them a cocktail party is in full swing. The host deadpans to the new arrival, “Food. Music. People. You’re on your own.”

Have you been that guest? Or worse, have you been that host?

Sometimes waving a new arrival toward the bar and the canapés is all that’s required. Depends on the guest. But I can’t help but see a parallel in the professional realm.

Welcome to Acme Widgets Inc. Here’s your desk. Here are your co-workers. I’ll see you in 6 months when it’s time for your performance review.”

Yes — we’re talking about on-boarding today.

As an executive recruiter, I pay close attention to the way companies strive to retain the talent we all worked so hard to secure. In the same way a guest should be ushered into your home and made to feel welcome (reinforcing their decision to hire a babysitter and forgo a Saturday night watching Netflix in their pajamas), new hires at your company should be welcomed in this spirit:

  • You were carefully chosen, and we’re glad you’re here
  • You’re now part of a great organization/team
  • This is why your job is important

This goes for new hires at every level, and it requires that key management be involved.

Here are some tips from the trenches to help prevent “Hire’s Remorse.”

  1.  Identify what’s NOT working about your current process. Chances are it’s disorganized, inefficient and boring. You’re not going to inspire excellence with a sloppy orientation.
  2.  Start your on-boarding with “pre-boarding.” Stay in close contact after you make the job offer, and get as much paperwork tackled in advance as possible. This helps your new hire feel welcome and reduces red tape on day one.
  3.  For orientation materials, make sure the format suits the content. Think beyond paper. Webinars and video can be useful and engaging, and are easy to digest prior to day one.
  4.  Give new hires access to employee or team profiles, especially of people they will be working with, and strive to get this info in their hands early in order to combat first day jitters.
  5.  For people who are relocating, provide information about an area’s local amenities and schools.
  6. Make sure their technology is up and running on the first day: email, Web access, landline, etc. And don’t forget the email blast to the entire team welcoming the latest team member, and be sure to copy the new employee. (Easy, because you’ve already set up their email address, right?)
  7.  Think of the “little stuff.” Make sure they know where to park, how to access office supplies, where the restrooms are located. And don’t make this list in a vacuum. Ask current employees what they remember from their early weeks on the job and find out what they wish they had been told, and then use that data to improve your process.
  8. Consider setting up a calendar for your new hire’s first two weeks on the job. At the very least, a printed itinerary for day one. In addition to training and tasks, the schedule should include lunches or briefings with team members.
  9. Make sure your new hire’s first assignment is one with value and purpose. You had faith in this person’s abilities when you made the offer, so give them an opportunity to contribute from day one as a demonstration of that faith.
  10. Encourage the new hire to select a mentor within the first 30 days.
  11. Remember that employees are highly impressionable for the first 60 days on the job and will be gathering information that reinforces their “buying” decision.
  12. Finally – take the long view. Develop milestones for what the employee should be able to do after one month, two months, three months, six months, and even one year on the job. Identify problems promptly so they can be resolved early before they become serious.

Easy enough! Your party is already in full swing, so to speak. Making new arrivals feel welcome only adds to your success. Cheers!

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  
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