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Don’t quit! Prevent onboarding missteps

The interview often doesn’t stop after the job offer’s accepted. What questions should candidates ask to ensure a good fit, and how can employers prevent new hires from running for the door?

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Starting a new job is a lot like a first date.

You’ve heard great things about the company and it comes highly recommended by your acquaintances and professional peers. You’ve probably talked a few times in person or on the phone to get to know each other, maybe even met a few of your new colleagues and taken a tour of the office in advance. Liking what you both saw, you and your new employer decide to embark on the first date in what you both hope could turn out to be a lasting relationship.

However, unlike a real date, bailing if things turn sour is a lot more awkward when there’s a clear expectation that you’ll be back on the part of your employer, not to mention you really kind of need that paycheck.

Ensuring future dates falls largely in the hands of the employer, and where some companies falter is in a poor onboarding experience for new hires.

“We traditionally talk about new employees making a good first impression, but companies should be putting their best foot forward, too,” notes Kyle Kraus, director of permanent placement services for Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Madison. “Employers may have less time than they think to make a good first impression on a new employee, and they risk losing promising new hires if they don’t get the onboarding process right from the start.”

A new employee’s first week, for instance, is crucial for setting the tone for their role in the organization, explains Kraus. There’s data to back that up.

The U.S. Labor Department released figures on April 11 that show while the quit rate fell during February, overall it remains high with more than 3 million workers quitting their jobs that month. That should be a big heads up for employers that it’s imperative to make sure new hires get up to speed and are happy right away or they risk losing them very quickly.

A survey of U.S. workers from staffing firm Robert Half shows 28% of professionals said they’d consider quitting within the first 90 days if they were unhappy. The saying goes you never get a second chance to make a first impression and workers agree. Some of the expectations for a successful first day cited by survey respondents:

  • Nothing compares to face time: 89% say meeting with their manager to clarify expectations is important.
  • Wining and dining? Not necessarily: Only 44% said being taken to lunch was necessary for a positive first day.
  • Don’t let workers fend for themselves: 83% expect formal introductions to their colleagues.
  • Avoid technical difficulties: 81% say it’s important to have their workspaces ready to go with proper setups in place.

“Most professionals know that it’s a candidate’s job market and they may have other opportunities available — especially if they possess an in-demand skill set,” Kraus says. “Workers are choosy about the offers they accept and if an opportunity does not turn out to be what it seemed, many won’t hesitate to look elsewhere — especially if it becomes clear they are not appreciated or are not being properly brought up to speed.”

Common onboarding missteps

Preparing for a new hire can often be a hectic process for employers, Kraus notes. Managers are already busy and there are so many things to keep in mind when bringing someone new on board that it can be easy to forget a few steps.

As such, companies that lack a checklist or formal onboarding process may overlook details along the way.

“Employers may be so focused on getting someone up to speed on the business side of things that they fail at the basics, like setting up the person’s workspace or giving a tour of the office,” Kraus notes. “A shaky start can cause new employees to question if the company has its act together. Employees who lack the proper training and foundation from the get go can impact their work down the line.”

To present the best possible face on the first day, employers should:

  • Set up shop. Stock the desk with essential supplies and equipment, such as pens, notebooks, a computer, and phone. Confirm network, voicemail and email functionality. Coordinate building security access, if necessary.
  • Get acquainted. Send a welcome email to team members and alert the receptionist so everyone’s aware. On the first day, introduce the employee to coworkers around the office. Consider scheduling a lunch for the new hire to get to know colleagues. Assigning the worker a buddy or mentor can help ease his or her transition.
    • When new hires are quickly brought up to speed on the corporate culture and introduced to colleagues, they’ll feel comfortable and like they fit in from the start.
  • Review the essentials. Provide a tour of the building. Schedule an orientation to review the employee handbook, company history, and policies. Allow time to complete any required HR paperwork.
    • Onboarding should be an ongoing process. Often, the best approach is an informal orientation during an employee’s first days to discuss the job and explain logistical information such as security issues and reporting structures. This can then be followed by the more extensive, formal program.
  • Focus on the job at hand. Set expectations early on by discussing the position’s goals and responsibilities. Organize training sessions on office equipment, software, and procedures necessary for the role.
    • Getting the tools and information they need to do their jobs also means they can begin actively contributing.
  • Keep it going. It can take a few months to fully onboard a worker. During that time, regularly check in with the employee and encourage him or her to ask questions.
    • Spacing things out also prevents staff from becoming overwhelmed with so much information they can’t internalize it all. Managers should ensure the onboarding process doesn’t end when a person leaves the formal orientation session. Check in with new staff regularly to see how they are doing and answer any questions.


May 19, 2017 08:35 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

What a great article! Something a lot of people don't think about ... I had a disastrous experience a few years ago - I should have known something was up when I was courted so much for the position (flowers upon acceptance of the job? Nice, but perhaps a little over the top) and then I was dumped into an environment with hostile coworkers, little guidance or training, and it took ME four days to track down the business administrator to get my payroll paperwork processed! Quitting was hard - but six months later I landed a fantastic job and have been there ever since. Learning experience.

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