How to Turn Off New Hires in the First 5 Minutes

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Retaining Employees

If the goal is to alienate new hires right off the bat, most companies succeed admirably. But what if the goal is to welcome, onboard, develop, and retain new hires? Well, then most small businesses are failing – and miserably at that. The first five minutes of a new hire’s day can determine whether their initial excitement and enthusiasm is encouraged or if it turns into disengagement, and not surprisingly, a lost opportunity.

New Hires aren’t “Need-to-Know” Information

Typically the hiring manager or a department head knows when someone new is starting. So why don’t they share that information with the rest of the company?! Communication problems aren’t restricted to small and medium businesses; large companies, too, often cultivate a “silo” approach to information – “It’s mine; not yours. I’m not sharing.”

If it sounds like a five-year old guarding his toys – well, that’s about how mature information-hoarding makes your company looks to newcomers. People reveal bits and pieces on a need-to-know basis. The problem is, a lot of the time, the one deciding what others “need to know” isn’t using the best judgment about who needs to know what, who it would benefit, or how it would help the entire organization if communication were more open.

Everyone needs to know that a new hire is coming aboard. They need to know what they’ll be doing, and they need to know what they will need from their new colleagues to succeed. When your internal processes and silos don’t allow this to happen, new hires get their first clue that your company may not be the right fit for them.

“No One Knew I was Coming!”

I’ve seen situations in which new hires walk in and even the receptionist had no idea they were starting. That’s pathetic – and a good way to help your competition out. Think about it: imagine a new employee comes in. They’re excited to work with this company and walk in enthusiastically. Then they find out that no one knows who they are or what they’re doing there.  Their only thought is, “Did I make a terrible decision?”

Even before the first day has started, new hires are questioning whether they should even work for you. And I don’t blame them. Your responsibility isn’t over when you select an employee. Pick up the phone, send a welcome letter, schedule lunches – do something so their first impulse isn’t to bolt out the door.

“I’m Too Busy” Isn’t an Excuse

If you look at two companies, assuming everything else is equal in terms of quality or industry, what differentiates them? What makes one a success, while the other fails? In 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist reminded everyone to focus on the most important issue: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Companies are running a tough race, too, and guess what? It’s the people, stupid. It’s who you’ve got, and it’s how they treat your customers or clients.

There is a war for talent. You want to beat the competition? Do it with your people, and with the process you have to attract, select, and retain them. You’re too busy? That can’t be an excuse.

Make Their Last Day Hard by Making Their First Day Great

The bottom line is that hiring managers and leaders have to think about how they would want – and expect – to be treated if they started a new job. They’d want to feel special. I’m not saying everyone needs to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But you spend a lot of time and money hiring people; why waste that with shoddy processes once they get in the door?

When you have worked to create a meaningful connection with a new hire, their last day is going to be emotional; it’s going to be difficult – and it’ll likely be much further in the future than it would have been if you’d treated their first day like a nonevent.

New employees need to walk in the first day and feel special. They need to know that their arrival is anticipated (that is the least you can do, and I mean the least) but wanted and welcome.  You can’t grow and succeed without the right people, and those first five minutes are critical in keeping them.

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