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Article -> All Aboard: New Hires Start on the Right Foot

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Date Added: March 2007

Today begins a new work life for someone. Nationwide, nearly 95,000 new hires begin daily; however, the Employment Policy Foundation finds about one-quarter of all hires won't make it one year, and Leadership IQ shows 46 percent leave within 18 months.
Retaining key people is one of an employer’s greatest concerns. If this is so, and the cost of turnover is so high, why do people become disengaged or uncertain of their responsibilities beginning on their first day?
A well defined goal to attract and retain the right people for your organization, and a strategy to provide proper training, can be achieved with a well executed on-boarding process. People who more clearly understand their roles, goals, and why particular tasks are assigned are more likely to become engaged employees – rather than simply satisfied. A merely satisfied employee may be content to collect a paycheck or work not to get fired, a recipe for turnover.
Organizations can do a favor for new people by establishing a point of contact responsible for on-boarding. Not necessarily the direct leader or HR person, the contact is responsible for training a new employee on job functions, as well as corporate culture. When to take lunch can be as confusing as using the copy machine. Minor tasks performed inefficiently cost time and money.
The contact person should have a clear understanding of line of sight goals, or how the new employee’s responsibilities affect the organization’s bottom line. Understanding this reduces questions like “why do I need to do this?” Similar to the first day of school, if students do not know “why” they are learning, the likelihood of retention diminishes. Adults become increasingly skeptical and more likely to ignore the seemingly unimportant. A leader’s role is to educate the contact point and new person on responsibilities’ importance, or risk disengagement as the employee becomes dissatisfied with lack of understanding. The contact point must explain the “why” during training.
It is recommended to provide an itinerary for the new person for the first week. If it is too costly to dedicate one person, consider having a small team familiar with the importance of the role share on-boarding duties. No task is too small for some explanation, so specifically schedule out the first several days, providing time for completing paperwork, computer and phone training, administrative tasks, and team introductions.
Depending on the person’s prior experience, use the later part of the week to introduce them to the actual work. Again, it is essential to clearly explain why work is assigned to their role, what the goal is, and why it is important to the vitality of the organization. This ensures the person understands how to do the work, and its value. In larger organizations, not all employees see the finished product. Making them aware of their contribution is imperative for complete engagement. Complete engagement drives low turnover, all adding to your bottom line.  
This article was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on February 21, 2007.
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