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Don't Take New Hires For Granted

By Bill Lee

Hiring good people is only half the battle. The other half is keeping them, especially in a relatively strong economy where quality people are difficult to attract. Let’s face it. It has never been tougher to find quality people. While national unemployment figures are mixed over the past year, there are many markets that are still classified as tight labor markets. In these markets, especially, this means that just about anyone who wants to work is already working, so to find quality people, managers must put on their selling shoes and persuade candidates that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

When I interview a newly hired employee, it’s sometimes like listening to a bride who recently returned from her honeymoon. What happened to all of the bouquets of flowers, the love notes and impromptu candlelight dinners that were so much a part of the dating process that convinced her that she was marrying such a thoughtful man? Much of the romance seemed to slowly disappear soon after newlyweds settle into the routine of marriage.

The same scenario often occurs when owners or managers bring in a sharp new employee that they have been romancing for several months trying to persuade him or her to leave their current job and join a new business team. After completing a warm and professional hiring process with management, the new employee’s first day on the job can be a real shock. More times than not, the new hires report for work only to be greeted by a sea of quizzical looks from veteran workers who had no idea that they were scheduled to arrive.

Bringing in a new employee to your company carries a lot of responsibility. How the orientation process is handled is critical. New employees’ initial impressions can make a big difference in both attitude and performance over the long term. If managers will discipline themselves to follow a few well-thought-out procedures, they can create an environment that will increase the comfort level of both new employees and their existing staff.

1. Well in advance of the new employee’s first day on the job, send a packet of information on your company. Included in this packet might be the following:

  • Your insurance booklet.

  • A write-up on the company’s profit-sharing plan.

  • An organizational chart with the incumbent’s name inserted in each block.

  • Your company newsletter.

  • Your company brochure.

  • Your company policy manual.

  • Some samples of your advertising material and anything else you believe will familiarize the new hire with the company.

2. Advise new employees’ co-workers of their arrival date, but be careful not to oversell the new employees’ credentials. Existing employees are naturally a bit insecure anytime someone new comes on board, so over-selling can cause the new hire to sometimes be perceived as a bit of a threat.

3. See that new employees’ workstations are prepared for their arrival. There’s nothing more frustrating than to arrive on that first day on a new job and find that you have no desk, no place to sit, no computer and no materials to work with.

4. Hand new employees an activity schedule that you have planned for their first couple of weeks on the job. This will keep them from suffering from that “lost feeling.”

5. At least for the first week on the job, assign a different co-worker to take your new hires to lunch each day and include the co-workers name and job title on the activity schedule.

6. Assign each new employee a mentor who has been around long enough to know the ropes. Be sure to select the mentor carefully. Choose mentors who are respected by their co-workers and who will unselfishly help the new employee’s orientation period become as pleasant as possible.

7. If the new employee has been hired from outside the area, be sure to arrange for his or her spouse to receive a warm welcome to the community. Assign an appropriate person to show the spouse around and answer questions about the community, neighborhoods, schools, etc.

The first few days on the job can either be a great beginning or a nightmare for new employees. It’s management’s job make sure that new hires’ initial impressions of the company give them every reason to believe that they made the right decision when they chose your organization.

Read other articles and learn more about Bill Lee.

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