Have you ever felt this way on your first day on the job?
“Welcome to [insert your company name here]. We’re glad you’ve joined us. Now that you are an employee please note the following... We ask that you not ever leave your cubical unless it’s to use the complimentary copy machine or in case of an emergency. Bathroom breaks are two minutes long and can only be taken at, oh I’m sorry, you’ve already missed that window today. We discourage you from talking with the other people in your vicinity, so don’t do it. If you have a problem, please feel free to Google your own solution from your smart phone, but not your work computer. Your training will consist of, well we’re not sure at this point so we’ll keep you posted on that. Thank you for your unconditional submission of your body and soul and welcome to the team.”
While that may be grossly dramatized, more for my own amusement than anything else, it is incredible how often employees on day-1 feel this same way. While their new employer might not communicate directly in this manner the end result is that they leave people feeling miserable on their first week of the job primarily because the company hasn’t put enough focus into their ‘onboarding experience’.
I’ve experienced this directly myself. When I started with a company many moons ago I showed up on my first day to have no computer, no trainer/ direction and no workstation. As a result I had to use a computer in the office lobby for my first week completely disconnected from the rest of my new colleagues. Few times did someone come to check up on me. I was handed a large booklet and told that I needed to work through the various sections as quickly as possible. Once I was done I was to tell the office manager and they would think of the next thing for me to do. An awful first impression to say the least.
The onboarding experience is a crucial first impression and we had mentioned last week that Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. When we started the discussion last week on SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program the focus was to bring light to a full proof way of making sure your new employees were welcomed with open arms and given all the tools to be successful with their new jobs.
As a reminder, we will reference the term ‘onboarding experience’ several times throughout this article which refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
If you missed part-1 of this article from last week click here to view:
Step-1: Candidate Identification
Step-2: Interview Process
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program (continued):
- Appreciation – when contacting the candidate who just gave their life to your tireless interview process it’s important to start off appreciating the time they spent with you and your cohorts. They most likely had to rearrange and adjust their personal lives and dodge their current employer in order to make your interviews. Taking a moment to say thank you is the least we can do.
- Personal Touch – I’ve always found it odd that in many companies HR or a recruiter is the one that makes the offer to the candidate, not the direct hiring manager. I’m aware that this is done many times for legal reasons however it leaves a bit of a cold impression with candidates. As a leader I have always found it important to call the people I’m looking to hire directly and discuss the offer letter with them one-on-one. No one will have more enthusiasm and passion about wanting to hire the new employee than the actual hiring manager themselves. A key piece here is that if you are going to go this route and you haven’t had experience doing it before it would be good to take a moment to speak with your HR group to understand what can and cannot be said during these calls.
- Spoken Word & Paper – it isn’t enough to verbally offer someone the job. Professional companies out there big and small follow up the verbal offer with a formal job offer which covers every aspect of their prospective employment. This offer should also require the candidate to sign off on the terms of their prospective employment so there is little room for someone to come back and say they didn’t understand what they were getting into. Email the offer letter on company letterhead as a PDF copy for quick follow through.
- Open Dialogue – when discussing the offer letter make sure to ask the candidate for their feedback once they have had an opportunity to review the fine print. It’s important that all parties involved understand all aspects of the proposed new partnership between employee and employer.
Step-4: Physical Onboarding
- Greetings – a designated person within the company, preferably the hiring manager, should be ready to greet the new arrival on their first day on the job. There’s nothing more classy than for the new hire to walk into the lobby and see a friendly face there to greet them and get the day started.
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About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.