Cookies, Staplers, and Intentional Design: On-boarding Done Right (Part 1 of 3)

    Posted by Steve Black on Sep 24, 2019 8:37:18 AM

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    20%. The percentage of employees who resign within their first 90 days of employment (G&A Partners, "The First 90 Days Are 'Make or Break'").

    Surprised? After spending hours and hours recruiting the ideal person, why is it that one-fifth of the workforce leaves within 90 days? A key reason is lackluster on-boarding.   

    Let me share two personal new hire experiences.

    Experience #1: Where’s the stapler?

    First-day excitement and nervousness set in as I drove to my new job. This was a new position within the company, so there was not a lot of clarity related to what I would do or how I would do it. That was fine and part of the intrigue. Over the first several weeks, it became apparent that no one knew what to do with me. Supplies were scarce and I bounced around from desk to desk until I finally landed in a newly leased office space; however, there was no one else in there. Trying to invent projects and add value became the obstacle for each day. On one occasion, I spent an entire afternoon trying to find a stapler. Over the first few months, I questioned what I was doing and if I had made a mistake in taking the job. 

    Experience #2: Wow! Cookies!

    I arrived home from vacation relaxed and excited to start my new job. While away, the mail and packages piled up requiring me to sort them. You can imagine the routine. Trash in one pile, bills in another one, packages here, magazines there and so on. One package caught my eye. It was from my new employer. Upon opening it, I found specialty cookies, new employer swag, and a hand-written note welcoming me to the team. Wow! My wife read the note out loud, and my kids swarmed the cookies. In mid-bite, one child said, “Wow! Your new boss is awesome!” In an instant, not only did I have a great first impression but also my family had a positive experience. This set the tone for what would be an amazing start to a new job, which I knew had been the right decision when considering my initial job offer.

    Fortunately, both experiences resulted in very positive employment opportunities. However, that is not the case for many workers. According to a 2013 Forbes article entitled “How Not to Lose Your New Employees in Their First 45 Days” by Melissa Llarena, as much as 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment! That is a staggering percentage given how much time and money goes into hiring people. Notice that this study makes it an even worse statistic than what we read earlier! Companies can do better than this! 

    So, does high-quality on-boarding really matter? Check out these statistics from a 2017 Society for Human Resource Management article entitled “Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good On-boarding” by Arlene Hirsch to support paying attention to your on-boarding efforts:

    • “69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great on-boarding.”
    • “New employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.”
    • “Organizations with a standard on-boarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity.”

    On-boarding Checklist to Increase New Hire Success:

    Pre-Hire: Set a Positive Tone

    1.      Start the On-boarding Process When You Make a Candidate a Job Offer

    First impressions matter! The moment you meet a candidate, their impression of your organization takes shape. This is true throughout the interview process. Once an offer is made, it is important to provide a professional job offer. This is an important first step in getting the employee-employer relationships off to a solid start.

    2.      Engage the New Hire’s Family or Significant Other in Pre-First Day Interactions

    When an employee’s family feels a positive connection to an organization, emotional ties begin to develop. Such ties go a long in providing long-term support from home. Every job has its stressors, and every person faces both personal and professional stress. Having loved ones connected to your place of employment is priceless! I do not have statistics tracking the ROI of sending cookies to a new hire’s family prior to Day One, but I have not had one employee not thank our company for such a thoughtful gesture and how much their loved ones enjoyed the gift. 

    3.      Reduce the First Day Jitters by Setting Expectations Before S/He Arrives

    Starting a new job is exciting but stressful. Employers MUST harness the excitement and maintain it for as long as possible. Employees, who do not know what to wear, where to be, and when to be there on their first day can go into the first day a little confused, concerned, and anxious. Why not minimize this with simple emails and check-ins? A simple email with a list of FAQs or a first-day agenda paints a picture that the organization has their act together and recognizes first-day jitters. 

    4.      Send New Hire Paperwork Prior to the First Day…and, Be Available to Answer Questions as They Arise

    Does anyone enjoy new hire paperwork? Mounds of manuals, benefit paperwork, and agreements lay there waiting to be signed. If new hires receive these items ahead of time, they can complete them and come prepared to ask pressing questions. The first day should be centered upon connecting the new hire with people and convincing them that they made the right decision in accepting the position. Many affordable on-boarding tools exist, which allow online processing and signing. 

    Now that you made a positive first impression, how are you going to “WOW” your new hire on Day One? Please be on the lookout for Part 2 in this series.  


    Check out other blog's by Steve Black: 

    Micro-Interactions: Small Actions With Huge Results

    Lattice Work: Building Structures That Support Strong Cultures

    Trust... the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

    Topics: Takeaways, culture, onboarding, Growing, Human Resources, Growth, workplace productivity, Success, Management, 2019

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