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On-Boarding Your New Employees: Best Practices for a Great Start

A White Paper provided by Ledgent Technology & Engineering

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A high quality and engaging on-boarding process can be one powerful tool to help retain top tech talent.

 

You’ve just hired a great developer. Naturally, you want him or her to get a phenomenal start at your organization. You know this individual probably had multiple job offers before accepting yours, so keeping your new employee engaged and committed will be a top priority – and an ongoing process.

What can you do on the very first day that will set a positive tone, position your employee for success and increase the chances of retaining him or her longer? Creating and implementing a formal and engaging on-boarding process is a highly effective – but often overlooked – way to accomplish this.

Starting off on the right foot is no accident. It requires careful planning and implementation to ensure that all new hires feel welcome, equipped, and motivated to perform at their best. Typically, employees who experience an engaging and structured on-boarding program the moment they start are 58% more likely to stay with a company for at least three years – critical when you consider that the technology industry is known for its significant turnover rate.

Inc., Forbes, and Quandora all report similar versions of what employees across industries desire from their employers. “Feeling important/ valued” always comes out on top, even more important than wages. It is imperative to instill this feeling in your employees beginning with their very first day and continuing throughout those crucial first few months.

An effective on-boarding program is one way to demonstrate that you are invested and excited to have them. With formal on-boarding, 77% of new hires met their first performance milestone, compared to only 49% without formal on-boarding. Utilize the practices discussed in this White Paper to reevaluate your internal new hire programs and ensure that your on-boarding activities are cultivating top performers who will thrive – and stay – in your organization.

 

Successful On-Boarding: What Employees Want Most

Ledgent Technology’s research has found that new hires, particularly high achievers, define success in four elements.

1. I clearly understand my responsibilities and how success will be measured.

2. My work is challenging; I derive meaning and a sense of accomplishment from it.

3. I feel like I am part of the company culture.

4. I have built solid relationships with the team and my manager.

According to Forbes, however, roughly 40% of newly hired employees fail within 18 months— that’s nearly half of all new coworkers! Additionally, 4% of new employees leave a job after an awful first day. The four elements listed should be addressed on the first day. Don’t let your new hires question if they made the right decision choosing your organization.

 

Understanding Responsibilities and Measuring Success

Forty-eight percent of people who quit within the first year say it was due to the unrealistic expectations of the job. More often than not “unrealistic expectations” refers to employers failing to define the various tasks or areas of responsibility involved in a coworker’s role from the start.

“Employers need to give their employees a roadmap to success if they expect them to realize their full potential,” says Leila Malekzadeh, On-Boarding & Integration Specialist for Roth Staffing Companies (the parent company of Ledgent Technology). “Employers should define coworkers’ roles throughout the candidate assessment and interviewing process so that employees know exactly what is expected of them when they walk through the door on Day One. Then, on a coworker’s first day, the manager should make it a point to sit down one-on-one with the new hire and review responsibilities, outcome expectations, the coworker’s career goals and strengths, and elements of the workplace culture.”

Before your new hires step foot in your office, they have notions and expectations of outcomes and responsibilities for themselves and you as their employer. They often go unsaid and most go beyond the paycheck. These are referred to as Psychological Contracts. These internal assumptions have a major effect on employee perceptions of fairness. Discuss with your employees their expectations and have defined (even documented) expectations for one another. Outline what you both perceive as successful practices and milestones, and the steps required to reach those. This will increase accountability for both sides and serve as a reference point if anything goes awry.

It’s essential for a new hire and his or her manager to regularly revisit this discussion within the first six months of starting–particularly at the pivotal 90-day mark–to ensure that expectations continue to align. While it is hard work for any leader to invest time in on-boarding, scheduling time to be part of a new coworker’s first 90 days is well worth it in the long run.

 

Challenges, Meaning and a Sense of Accomplishment

According to a Dice.com survey, technology professionals in particular seek “more interesting or more challenging assignments.” Individuals desire meaning and challenge in their roles, and feel accomplished when they understand how their work affects the entire company. Managers can begin addressing this need right away by developing Week One goals for the new employee and the team. This provides actionable items that can help create a sense of accomplishment immediately. From this starting point, managers should check back with the new hire on a routine schedule to ensure they understand how their goals fit into the organization’s “big picture” and that they are being appropriately challenged.

Including the newly hired coworker on the team’s weekly goal sheet can demonstrate that he or she is already contributing to their team’s and the company’s success. Lead a team discussion about the role your organization plays on a larger level. Why does your team come to work every day? What role does your team play in contributing to the company’s goals? How can each team member challenge themselves to make work more stimulating?

 

Connecting with the Workplace Culture

Equipping new hires with the professional tools for success is just one part of the Day One puzzle. Their basic tools–email, phone, desk–should be set up and ready for them. The other essential piece is the intangible cultural element: coworkers want to feel like they belong in the company environment.

Before his or her first day, send your new hire a note expressing your genuine excitement for them to start. Give them a brief heads-up on what to expect on their first day, including things like lunch plans. It’s a simple touch that can get them feeling excited and ready for their first day.

If your organization’s culture prioritizes a “fun” workplace, you may choose to make an impression by decorating a new hire’s work area. In a more formal environment, simply stocking the workspace with pens, notepads and business cards can also go a long way toward demonstrating your appreciation and that your team took time to prepare for the new hire’s arrival.

“We always show the new coworker around the office and make introductions on the first day,” explains Theresa DelVecchio, a Market Director at Roth Staffing Companies. “When new hires are on a first name basis and familiar with everyone in the workplace by the end of their first day, they no longer feel like ‘the new person,’ they feel like part of the team.”

 

Building Solid Relationships

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has found that being unable to cultivate positive working relationships leads to a 60% failure rate. On the flip side, research demonstrates that 87% of the top on-boarding and training programs include mentoring.

Position new hires for success by implementing mentoring programs designed to be a resource for new coworkers. According to CIO, mentorship in IT is critically important for understanding industry trends and building skills that will be be needed in the future. Inc. magazine recommends experimenting with various types of mentoring such as group, peer, one-on-one, and reverse mentoring (where lower-level employees teach middle or upper management) to determine which style works best for the new hires in your workplace. Having even one ally in the workplace can increase retention by 25%!

In addition to forging new relationships, managers should ensure that Day One includes both a group lunch (open to the team and coworkers from other departments) and some time during the day for undivided attention from the new hire’s manager.

“One-on-one attention with a manager every day during the first week can make or break a new employee’s experience,” says Roth Staffing Market Vice President Peggy Baggott. “Showing a new team member that they are your number one priority doesn’t just boost morale, it also provides an opportunity for them to ask clarifying questions, address concerns, give feedback about the on-boarding processes, and outline short- and long-term goals—all elements that are beneficial to the organization or department as well as the new employee.”

 

On-Boarding & the Bottom Line

Proper on-boarding can result in a positive long-term financial impact. A survey of sales professionals found that with proper on-boarding, they generated expected revenue 20 weeks sooner than those without. This can translate into dramatically increased productivity and profitability, not to mention a long-lasting boost in team morale. Hiring manager satisfaction also increased with formal on-boarding to 20%, compared to -3% without formal on-boarding.

Top organizations take the time to implement helpful on-boarding processes that position their coworkers for success because it’s more than just the right thing to do. “Every new hire is an opportunity to improve our engagement statistics,” says Amy Bastuga, VP of Human Resources at Radio Flyer. “A poor early employment experience can contribute to the epidemic of disengagement at the cost of high turnover. A positive experience is critical for retaining the talent you recruit and for driving performance.”

 

Day One is Just the Beginning

Day One has a much more significant influence upon the long-term success and loyalty of a coworker than it may seem at first glance. Ledgent Technology has found that most new employees decide if they feel at home within the first three weeks of joining an organization. Companies don’t have much time to make a good impression on its new hires.

Of course, employee engagement does not begin and end with your on-boarding process. Successful organizations have a complete system to continually engage employees, such as regular discussion of goals, performance reviews and opportunities for feedback. In the grand scheme, it’s easy to minimize the importance of on-boarding a new employee; but setting up their phone/email and providing basic company training is not enough. Effective on-boarding is should not be treated as “just a formality.” It’s a major opportunity to set a foundation for success.

You don’t have to throw them a party or hover over them, but be sure to meet their needs and be patient as they learn new skills and practices unique to your organization – it’s a lot of information.

 

The Next 89 Days

Assume your new employee is not really hired until 60-90 days after they start. Orchestrate an on-boarding plan that continues to “recruit” and excite your new employee about the company while they are learning the required responsibilities of their role.

Research completed by SHRM indicates that employees have approximately 90 days to internalize the skill set, behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge to successfully fulfill their role. This means that the sooner organizations are able to effectively integrate their new hires into the workplace culture and equip them with the tools necessary for success, the higher the probability of long-term achievement.

Ledgent Technology has experienced it first-hand … when we equip our new hires with the tools to succeed, the employer reaps the benefits as well. Lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction and engagement are all a result of formal on-boarding.

 

For a quick overview, check out our INFOGRAPHIC about On-Boarding

 

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About Ledgent Technology & Engineering

Ledgent Technology & Engineering specializes in the placement of full-time and contract professionals in roles ranging from IT support to software development. We are a division of Roth Staffing Companies, one of the largest privately-held staffing companies in the country, operating from more than 100 locations in 20 states and the District of Columbia via six specialized business lines: Ledgent Technology & EngineeringUltimate Staffing Services (the 11th largest office/clerical staffing company in the country), Ledgent Finance & Accounting, Adams & Martin Group (legal staffing), and affiliates Ultimate Locum Tenens and About Talent (a workforce solutions company).

Roth Staffing Companies stands as the only firm in the industry ever ranked #1 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing, privately-owned companies, and is the only one to receive all of the industry’s most prestigious honors in a single year, accomplishing this feat for two consecutive years.  The organization is consistently ranked among the 50 largest staffing companies in the country.