December 13, 2023 workforce podcast show notes
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You Only Have One Chance to Make a Positive First Impression
Jamie begins by asking, “What was your WORST first day like?” Jason immediately recalls a summer job he had, during college, on a hog farm. It was a large farm with 1,000 animals. What he didn’t realize is that there was a hazing tradition in place for any new guy. They assigned him a task with no instructions and no information on how to complete the task. He was thrown into it and figured out how to do it. As he describes it, “It was a disgusting first day.” Even though he showed up the next day and things seemed to go much better, it was a less than optimal first impression.
Molley asks Jamie about her worst first day. In this case, Jamie relocated for a new job. She was in a new city and bought her first house. She showed up for her first day and they put her in a small room and instructed her to read 2 binders worth of material. There was no tour of the office, no introduction to her co-workers, nothing. Several weeks later, they asked her if she had ever done investigations. She came back with a report that her boss picked apart. It caused her to seriously begin doubting herself and her ability to do the job. Again, it was a less than optimal first impression.
Jamie asks for Molley’s worst first day story. Molley grew up in an entrepreneurial family. She had experience, but the story she tells is about her first paying job. She was a Subway sandwich artist. Everyone seemed friendly and welcoming. However, just as the lunch rush began, the staff disappeared. Molley was running the show by herself, on her first day. It was a nightmare. The manager was leaving the company, but luckily, the new manager was much more professional and coached Molley on how to properly handle the responsibilities and tasks. However, the first impression wasn’t what you’d imagine it would have been.
The Turnover Data
Jamie explains there’s something that happens during that first 6 months of employment. If you assume most people don’t take a new job to quickly quit it, the problem must be a miscommunication or the setting of unrealistic expectations during the recruiting process or in the on-boarding process.
Molley refers to a report stating, industry-wide across the US, 33% of all new hires leave those new jobs within 6 months. The group dives into the key factors that may be driving that huge turnover.
Planning for the New Hire
This is imperative for any business. You may have heard stories of managers not knowing the employee was starting on the day they showed up to begin. Poor communication and planning leads to a feeling of being unappreciated and makes the company look extremely disorganized. The same happens when your office phone or new computer isn’t ready. Imagine how excited the new employee was and the disappointment that resulted from the lack of planning.
The team takes time to discuss their BEST first days. The examples are much more in line with what you would expect (or at least hope) a first day should feel like. These best first days included tours, introductions both formal and informal and much more.
Jamie tells a story of a best first day with a company that absolutely knocked it out of the park. There are so many little things a company can do to really make the new employee feel he/she made the right decision.
If your new hire is working remote the challenge to nail that first impression becomes more complicated, but it can be done, if you simply plan for it. Molley has a good game plan for this situation. Remote workers need plenty of consistent contact, especially in the early days. Jamie describes how video tours of the main office are helpful. She also mentions how to offer tips for the remote employee that shows your company cares about their involvement and progress.
Retention Can Start in the Interview Process
Jason describes how his company handled this with a terrific, remote-work candidate. During the onsite interview, several people took this individual to dinner. She discussed her dream of owning a bed and breakfast. Later, Jason’s team mailed her a book about starting a successful bed and breakfast. It was a small gesture, but imagine how that made the person feel about the company and the team she was about to join. That’s a good first impression.
The key is to actively listen for those little comments about what’s important to the individual you’re interviewing. Then, take action to create an opportunity to prove how your organization’s values align with his/hers.
Do You Have a Formal On-boarding Process?
Molley comments how important it is to have a written on-boarding process and accountability assigned to people who have a role in that process. This can help with consistency and controlling the experience so it delivers the impression you intended to deliver.
Jamie observes the secondary goal for most organizations when dealing with a new hire. You want them to become functional and productive as quickly as possible (the employee shares that same goal). An effective on-boarding plan should cover the first 6 months. Orientation is not on-boarding.
The plan should include:
- Who do they need to know?
- What access do they need?
- What training do they need?
- What’s the estimated time required for that person to learn the various job activities?
- How often should the leader or manager meet with the new employee to ensure they are feeling comfortable with the new role and their ability to perform the duties? Consider these “temperature checks.” Is that employee getting what he/she needs?
- Schedule daily meetings for the first week.
- After the first week, the meetings could be weekly.
- That cadence can go longer after the first month or so, depending on the feedback.
Form an Assimilation Team
Sometimes, this level of involvement may not be feasible. Consider developing an assimilation team that can take on some of these activities to ensure the new hire is getting the support he/she needs. There’s value in the communication that will occur between the new employee and the more experienced ones who are taking that individual under the collective wing. It makes him/her feel important and valued. Moreover, it establishes important connections.
What Should You be Measuring Related to On-boarding Success?
Jason was surprised by the 33% turnover rate. He asked Jamie and Molley to recommend ways organizations can measure their progress. Jamie likes breaking the first 6-month turnover rate down by type of job, leader, location or other factors. You want to try to identify best-practices within your organization and apply them to lower-performing areas.
Molley shares her perspective about the value of the new hire process. Can you identify at what point does that new employee become profitable to the company? You’ve invested time and effort in this individual from the recruiting expense to the compensation and training of that person. If he/she leaves before they reach that point of profitability, your organization has failed to achieve a return on that investment. You need to determine the root causes preventing new employees from reaching that point of profitability.
Do You Understand Why They Left?
It’s critical to understand what went wrong. If you don’t, you’ll be destined to have it repeated time and time again. Are you conducting exit interviews with voluntary departures? Of those who are considered involuntary departures, do they fall into common reasons or “buckets”? Did you have the proper system and tools set up for someone to learn the job and progress? How can you set people up for success in your organization?
Don’t Wait for the Exit Interview
Molley notes that if this is the first time you’ve actually asked the individual about his/her experience with your organization, it’s too late. The damage is already done.
During the first 6 months, you should be having regular and consistent communication with your new hire. You’ll be able to address issues more quickly, if you’ve taken the time to ask and/or identify them. Don’t set up your people to fail.
Set Expectations Clearly and Early
Jason comments that if you set the proper expectations, people have a better chance of meeting and exceeding them. If those expectations are ambiguous, is it really the fault of your new hire?
Your Compensation Program
Jamie adds that most compensation programs set the mid-point at when the individual becomes fully functional for the role. Aligning your process allows the person to grow his/her compensation to hit the mid-point, while allowing you to make adjustments to the training program, as needed.
Your New Hires Are Referral Sources
People who are having a terrific on-boarding experience tend to be more likely to refer others to your organization. They’re excited about their roles, the culture and the future opportunities. They are more apt to tell family, friends and colleagues about their experience. This can also have the opposite effect, if the process is poorly designed and/or implemented.
New Hire Surveys
These are becoming more widely available. They are critical sources of feedback for your organization. They often encompass the interviewing process, as well as the on-boarding phase.
Jamie encourages companies not to try to build their own. You need an anonymous tool, if you want credible feedback. Using survey tools such as Survey Monkey, can help an employee feel more confident that his/her identity will be masked. This can promote more candid responses. Jamie and Molley have had a lot of success with OrgVitals.
The Importance of Communication and Marketing
Jason’s company focuses on marketing for employers. He encourages organizations not to ignore the importance of internal marketing. What are you saying to your team about your culture?
He recommends that talent acquisition team begin working with the marketing department to allocate investment for internal marketing and communications. There is value to reducing turnover and promoting employee engagement.
Jamie comments on how you might be able to use some of those internal marketing and communications to introduce your new hire to the organization. It’ll make him/her feel welcome and potentially open up connection points for others who may have similar backgrounds, hobbies or experiences.
Highlighting the fact that the organization is actively hiring can bring a sense of relief to those who are feeling under-resourced and overworked. “At least the company is doing something to address the issue.”
If you need help reducing your resources, you have a team that’s here to help. You don’t have to do it on your own.
That’s where we’ll leave the conversation for today. Before we close the file, we invite you to reach out to us with questions, suggestions or other comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Need Help Supporting Your Company’s Recruiting and Staffing Goals?
We’re here to help. You can contact us via our individual websites, depending on your specific needs or questions:
- Jamie Swaim, SPHR – www.ParcelKnows.com
- Molley Ricketts – www.IncipioWorks.com
- Jason Heflin – www.CrowdSouth.com
We hope you found this file insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
By Jason Heflin
Jason Heflin is one of CrowdSouth’s owning Partners and brings years of marketing experience from his past lives as a corporate marketing manager, writer, and freelancer. He also plays the ukulele for fun, which is cool.