The HR Fix

006 Employee Retention Begins Before the Employee's First Day

November 12, 2019 Ann Lustig
The HR Fix
006 Employee Retention Begins Before the Employee's First Day
Show Notes Transcript

Companies should focus on increasing retention by taking steps to make employees feel welcomed and feel part of the community before their first day!

This episode explains why and how.

For more thoughts, ideas and perspectives on fixing HR...

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Speaker 1:

Hi and welcome to the HR fix podcast. My name is Anne Lustig and today we're talking about how employee retention begins before the employee's first day. That's right. I know a lot of companies focus on employees that have been there for while - at risk employees, but it really begins right after they accept the job offer, because turnover is very expensive for most companies. And that's why retention such a big issue. And even if we hire the perfect person for a job, t here a re so many reasons why a person can leave. And these days it's such a competitive job market, it's very easy for an e mployee to find something else, something that may be better. So hiring somebody is just the first step. You need to also focus on keeping them happy so that they stay and that starts right after they accept the job. Most companies I speak with, as I said before, focus on t heir at risk employees, employees that are not brand new to the company and that are at risk for leaving. But what about the employees that are just starting? All of this effort has just been made to hire them. What are companies doing to make sure they stay? Last year, Gallup published this statistic that I think is just unbelievable. Only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their company does a great job of onboarding new employees. And there are lots of amazing statistics out there about new employees and turnover and onboarding and one I saw from inc magazine said 23% of new employees turnover before the first anniversary. Wow, that's terrible! And it's not only a financial hit to the company, it also puts a strain on the other employees because they need to fill in while the role has not been filled. And honestly, retention for the sake of retention - you know wh at, it can't work. People can really tell when a company wants them to stay because they really want them to stay and when they want them to stay, just because they don't want to deal with turnover and they want to reduce their costs. It's a big difference. And employees can feel the difference. And I don't understand why some companies wait until an employee has one foot out the door to start worrying about the fact that they're going to leave. It's kind of like being in a relationship where somebody treats you horribly and you decide to leave, and that's when they decide to treat you better. And at that point it's a little bit too late. So I say, don't wait until it's too late to start doing the right thing. Make employees feel welcome before they even start. You took all that effort to hire them, make them feel like they're part of a company, family. Make them feel included. Starting in a new company is difficult enough. It's stressful. Many people even doubt their choice. Wonder if they made the right decision and if they're going to be happy. But what if you could turn that doubt around? How great would it be for a new employee to be largely acclimated to the company on their first day? You know, if you've heard me speak before or even listened to one of my more recent podcast episodes, you know that I strongly believe that community is the best way to not only make employees feel like they belong and make them feel happier, but also to increase retention. Making the effort to build a strong community means making the effort to bring in new employees and make them feel that they're a valuable part of the group - and to do this quickly. Take a second to think back on when you started a new job. Almost everyone experiences that odd feeling of belonging and at the same time not belonging. And this is the time where employees make a first impression about a company. The first impression a candidate has of a new company is during the interview process. But once the candidate becomes an employee, once they accept the job offer, the impression they get as an employee is formed. And this is a really, really important time to make that positive impression, one which is often overlooked. You know, my younger daughter's now a freshman in college and she started in September and over the summer she started receiving all these things from her new school. It was great stuff. She started getting lots of communications from her university as well as a couple of packages to welcome her to the college experience. And I started thinking, what a great thing. Why don't we do this more in companies? Why don't they send packages ahead of time to welcome the new employees? There's so much information to share and they leave a lot of this information up to the employee to find out on their own. Wouldn't it be great to give it to the employee upfront? And I know a lot of companies do some activities to make employees feel welcome, but based on the statistics that are out there and the conversations I've had with so many people in so many companies, it's clear that this needs to be improved. So here's some things you can do to make your employees feel welcome before their first day. And this is a list that I put together after speaking to a number of companies about their best practices regarding pre-boarding, and then I've put this into a flow - so it's easy to follow how it may work for you. And some of these ideas are goi ng to wo rk for you in yo ur company and some won't. So just take what you can from this and use what works. And before I start listing some of the different things that you can do to welcome somebody before they start, I also wan t to me ntion that some of these wil l ta ke a little bit of pre-work, meaning that you might need to prerecord some videos. It may take some training. And I know I mentioned in a previous episode that one of the roles for HR in the future is an HR marketing person. And this is a place where the HR marketing person can really help. So with all that in mind, here are some things that you can do to make an employee feel welcome before their first day.

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Number one is a welcome video. And the welcome video will say things like, welcome to the company. We're so happy you're joining us. You could show different parts of the company, the layout of the floors and the video could talk about what's great at the company and what people really love. And you can even have some testimonials on the video as well. And then you finish the video by saying that the next thing they're going to receive is a welcome package.

Speaker 1:

So they're on the lookout for that welcome package. And that's two, the welcome package. And the welcome package is a little bit different because the welcome package is not electronic. It's a physical package which will arrive at their front door. I really like the welcome package cause it has a few things to help them get started. And one of those things is access to the onboarding portal so they can actually go in and do all that dreaded paperwork ahead of time. And you can use electronic signatures on all of that. And then they can also access their benefits and see what their different options are and think about what they're going to select. Another thing that's great to have in the welcome package and the main reason why it's not sent electronically is things that have the company logo on it, like maybe a mug or a tee shirt or a bag. Because having things like this will help them begin to feel like they're actually part of the company. So the welcome package contains a lot of different things to welcome them and to get them acclimated to the company. And in the welcome package there's also again a notice that says that the next thing they're going to get is the ability to select their buddy or also called a peer guide.

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And that brings us to number three, selecting a peer guide or a buddy. I really liked the idea of a buddy system. Think of yourself as the employee and wouldn't it be great to be able to select your buddy ahead of time? You know, maybe you could get a couple of bios or some pictures and pick out someone that you would feel really comfortable with, somebody that you would be comfortable going to to ask questions and then that would be your buddy.

Speaker 1:

That person would meet you on the first day and then walk you back to your department and introduce you to people. And right as you select your buddy, you get a confirmation email which tells you what you can expect on the first day. And this is number four expectations for the first day. So again, right when you select your buddy, you get a confirmation email and in addition to the confirmation, it's also information about what you can expect on your first day. Again, put yourself in the new employee shoes and think about how you would feel as the new employee if you receive something like this, and this can start with the link and the link would take you to a bunch of videos from people in your group and they can say individual welcome messages. And after this, either your hiring manager, if they're comfortable or somebody from HR can also be on the video and then tell you what you can expect - that you'll be getting a schedule that's been created specifically for you. And in that schedule you'll be able to meet different people in both your department and in the business so you could learn more about the business and the roles of each of the people you'll be working with. Also in the schedule will be an opportunity to meet with your manager to talk about work assignments and development opportunities, either for personal or professional development. .

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I just want to take an opportunity here to say that we have to be careful about how much we include in the schedule because sometimes there is a tendency to over-schedule somebody . We have to think about how much a new employee can absorb in the first few days. There's definitely a need to meet with different people in the department and in the company to understand what the company does and how the department works together. And I think it has to be done in a very smart way.

Speaker 1:

And I think these schedules are really important. And I do recommend putting together an orientation schedule, a little packet for somebody to go and meet with different people, find out what they do, but again, be mindful about how many people the new going gonna have to meet and how much information they can absorb. So this last piece of information received really rounds out the pre-boarding experience because you got welcome messages from people in the group and you also got a little video from either the hiring manager or HR telling you about what to expect on the first day. And then at the end of this video, the buddy will come on once again and tell them how they can be reached, should they have any questions before the first day. And I realize some of you might be listening to this and say, Ew, I don't want that. And you know what? These things are not going to work for every single person or for every single company. There's always people that aren't going to want to be videotaped . It's going to vary from person to person and from company to company. So that just ideas and suggestions, but there are so many ideas that are out there that you can do. So in the end, everybody has to do what works best for their company. But I say take the lead and start welcoming people before they actually walk into the building, welcomed them after they received the offer letter. Don't hesitate to reach out and speak to them, see if they have any questions. Check in from time to time. Send them a welcome package, create something for them to do in the first couple of days. Give them a buddy, give them some goodies to enjoy and have them start on a good and happy note.

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So that's it for now, but I do plan to talk about this in more detail in future podcasts . So if you're interested in learning more about this topic, please subscribe to this podcast and if you want to contact me or ask a question or invite me to speak at your company or conference, you can reach me through my website, which is annlustig.com or send a message to me through LinkedIn. Thanks so much for listening. And remember, Focus on the Future, Take Action Today!