The importance of creating a good new-hire experience

Pete Jansons

When you’re a small business, you lose so much more than headcount when a new employee leaves. Time and money (two things most small businesses are already short on) invested in recruiting, hiring, and training the employee can't be recaptured. The vacancy affects productivity, and the momentum of your whole operation may suffer. Not to mention the frustrating fact that you’re back at square one.

It makes sense, then, to do what you can to encourage new hires to stick around. Positive experiences during the first days on the job can impact the decision to stay, so onboarding needs to be more than filling out required forms. Show enthusiasm for your new hire and the contributions he will make with thoughtful actions that promote success.

Be around 

Don’t “dump” a new employee on someone else the first day. Studies show that new hires generally prefer their direct manager to be the one to show them the ropes. Taking this time confirms your interest in the individual and his importance to the company.

Foster bonding

Joining what is likely a close-knit staff can be intimidating. Try going beyond cursory introductions in order to help the new member feel welcome at your small business. Some companies encourage co-workers to send the newcomer an email prior to start day to offer support and provide a bit of personal background. A group lunch on day one also can be a fun icebreaker.

Appoint a mentor

Having someone to turn to besides the boss can be reassuring in a new environment. SHRM agrees that assigning a buddy or mentor is one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.

Secure necessary items

Providing people with the tools necessary to jump into their role keeps that eager-beaver mentality alive. A new hire’s desk, phone, computer and password logins should be ready upon arrival (and by all means, remember that bathroom key).

Limit boredom

Yes, many things need to be done during the initial days of employment, but too much too fast becomes overwhelming. Analyze what must be accomplished now and what can be done at a different time. Paperwork oftentimes can be completed at home prior to the start date, freeing up valuable time to delve into specific job-related training.

Ask questions

Want to know what will help your new employee stay with your small business? Just ask. Increase motivation by asking new hires to identify their key monetary and non-monetary motivators. Learn why the person quit his or her last job; you’ll gain insight on what to watch out for in the coming weeks.

Is the extra effort worth it? If eliminating the stress of going through the whole hiring process again isn’t enough to make that answer a resounding “yes,” consider this parting thought:  A study by the consulting firm BCG shows that firms with outstanding onboarding can expect to nearly double their corporate revenue growth and profit margins compared to counterparts with only average onboarding. Time well spent, huh?


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy


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