The post-pandemic economic recovery view is now beginning to come into focus. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the jobless rate will fall to 4.5% this year (from 6.2% as of February 2021) and 2.7 million people will re-enter the workforce within the next year. How these people are onboarded into their new roles has the potential to have a big impact on our economic recovery rate.
Consider this. If you run a small business with 100 employees, that means you’re likely to hire two new employees in the next year (the actual number will probably be much higher). One goes through a robust onboarding process, and you enroll the other in the school of sink or swim.
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Let’s assume new hire #1 is 50% productive for the first three months and 75% productive for the remainder of their first year. They know their job, what is expected of them, and have been trained to do it well. If they deliver $100/hr of productivity output, they will produce ~$138K in value in the course of their first year.
Conversely, you drop new hire #2 into their new job with little support and training. They’re 40% productive for their first three months and 60% for the remainder of the year. But due to their lack of proper onboarding and ever-increasing frustration, they decide to quit after 12 months and you’re back to hiring a new person all over again. Compare this productivity of $110K in value to your first hire. You’re missing out on $28K of incremental value, not including the costs associated with hiring a replacement employee.
As a manager or business owner, there’s no doubt that you’re keen to get your new hires up to speed as quickly as possible and contributing to the results you seek. All too often, these employees are faced with a sink or swim scenario from their first day on the job. This is a mistake. The productivity and results you forfeit because of a poorly executed onboarding strategy results in missed opportunities.
Here are 8 things you can do to plan for a new hire’s arrival and make onboarding a success:
1. Understand them. Take the time to understand their personality before their first day in the office. If you have a decent hiring process, you will have your new hires conduct a behavioral or personality assessment prior to their first interview. Brush off the cobwebs and review this assessment before their arrival. This may give you insights into how your new hire will approach their first day on the job.
2. Prepare and present them with a welcome package upon their arrival. No need to go overboard, just a small package with a few items to let them know that you care and to make their first day memorable.
3. Clarify expectations early. Put yourself in their shoes… their greatest uncertainty is likely tied to exactly how they will contribute to your organization. Don’t leave this open for interpretation. Be clear about what you expect from them very early on and reinforce this (check for understanding) throughout the first day, week, and month.
4. Introduce your new employee to all of their immediate colleagues. Carve out ample time to make meaningful introductions. Explain the new hire’s role and that of their colleagues. Where appropriate and previously agreed to, you can share something interesting about the new hire to their co-workers.
5. Eat with them. There’s something fundamentally human about sharing a meal with someone else. Have lunch with your new employee and include their immediate supervisor and/or peer mentor. This is a great opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better in a more relaxed setting. Don’t make it about work. In fact, do your best not to discuss work-related topics.
6. Provide plenty of opportunities for them to ask questions. Avoid the “does this make sense” closed-ended question and ask open ended questions like “what are your thoughts about this,” or “what questions do you have?” Wrap up their first day with a dedicated Q&A session.
8. Assign a peer mentor. Someone with whom your new hire will work and can go to with any questions about how to do their job. Ideally this should be a person in the same department as your new hire and has insights and recommendations about how to do their job most effectively.
9. Draft a learning and development (L&D) plan and update it frequently throughout the probationary period. Successful L&D plans are aligned with the goals of your business and the personal goals of your new hire. Plans should also focus on the development of specific competencies (skills or knowledge) that will allow your new hire to be more effective in their current role and help them prepare for future jobs.
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The impression you make on a new hire from their first day on the job can have a lasting impact for the duration of their career within your company. A focused and committed investment in your onboarding process will lead to better engagement, employee contributions, and results. As we enter the roaring twenties, it’s an investment you can’t afford to not make.