Quick Summary: A dysfunctional onboarding program reflects poorly on a company’s culture while revealing a lack of interest the employer has in making sure new hires are a success. Some new hires respond by not returning on their second day of employment, or quickly searching for new jobs where they believe they will feel appreciated.
Jake arrived right on time to start his new job as a CNC Machine Operator.
Entering the building, he rang the bell on the counter in the vestibule twice before being acknowledged by Julie, the company’s receptionist who appeared to be having a rough morning.
Jake explained to Julie it was his first day of work and was told to ask for Matt. As Matt wasn’t in the office yet, Jake took a seat in the vestibule and waited. Twenty-two minutes later, McDonald’s coffee in hand, Matt walked in, smiled at Jake, and gestured to follow him through the door into the office.
Walking together down a long hallway, Matt tells Jake that the first thing he needs to do is meet with Karen in HR to go over and sign some paperwork. But unfortunately, when Matt introduces Jake to Karen, she said she wasn’t aware a new hire was made and hence, no new hire documentation was prepared, and no arrangements were made for onboarding or training.
Matt vents his frustration on Karen because he remembers sending her an email about Jake’s new job and start date. Jake just stood there for a minute or so, watching the two argue.
As Jake couldn’t enter the shop floor before certain documents were signed, he had to wait another fifteen minutes for Karen to get everything together. After numerous autographs, Karen hands Jake a welcome packet for him to read and walks him to the shop floor where he meets his new supervisor.
Perhaps you can recall a time when a new relationship or a new beginning got off to a rocky start. It may have been rocky enough that you second-guessed your decision, or bad enough that you regretted it and wanted to back out, and did.
Alternatively, you may recall a time when a new beginning went so well that you know you made the right decision.
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of employees who quit within a week or two of being hired, or worse, new hires who never return after their first day on the job. And while it’s frustrating for any employer who can relate, perhaps the employee’s reason for quitting or never returning isn’t a mystery. It very well may be that the company’s onboarding process, or lack thereof, was the reason.
On the very first day of employment, a new hire will hyper-analyze everything they see and hear from the surroundings of their working environment to how people act and behave toward them and everything in-between. They will also notice if your company has its act together based on your preparedness, thoroughness, and follow-through in the onboarding process.
Unfortunately, there are too many employers that disregard the significance of delivering a quality onboarding process, and do so at their peril. Their only concern is finding a new employee to fill a role, and to hell with the “soft” stuff, such as making them feel like a valuable member of the team.
Onboarding starts before the new hire’s first day
One business owner I know has nailed his onboarding process down to what he refers to as an onboarding experience. It starts with having the new hire’s manager reach out several days before the new hire’s start date to ask how they are doing, find out if they have any questions, and to go over what to expect on their first day. This emotionally intelligent leader understands that as the employer, it is his company’s responsibility to initiate the employer/employee bond.
On the new hire’s first day, s/he will see their name printed on a welcome board, and several team members, including his or her supervisor and mentor will be ready to greet and start the day. This employer’s goal is to make sure new hires go home eager to return on the second day.
A large part of this employer’s success in retaining new hires as well as long tenured employees is driven by placing a high priority on maintaing a healthy and stable company culture of mutual respect, accountability and continuous improvement. Over time, his company has earned a reputation of being an employer of choice in his region. In other words, it’s his leading competitive edge.
When you think about the time and money it has been taking to finally find a good employment candidate, you can begin to appreciate how important it is for him or her to genuinely want to work for your company and want to do the best possible job they can. If they end their first day or first week feeling like they are just viewed as another part of a machine to make a company function, what expectations can you possibly have that they will have any motivation to stick around for the long haul and give you their best?