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Help to maximize the positive experiences of new employees

01 Jun, 2020 Careers, Employee engagement, experience, satisfaction, Workplace relationships

Good employers recognize the importance of attracting the best talent – and keeping these good people. They understand that the costs of poor recruitment and retention are heavy. Therefore many organizations take an enlightened approach to their new employees. One of the keys is to communicate well with new arrivals. PR can work closely with HR to make new arrivals feel welcome. This will significantly help to maximize the positive experiences of new employees.

The new-hire process

Onboarding is different from orientation, as discussed below.

Onboarding. According to HR firm, Training Industry:

Employee onboarding is aimed at the successful acclimation and integration of new hires (or current employees after being promoted or transferred into a new role). It’s involves assessing, defining and aligning the needs of the new hires with the culture and reinforcing the organization’s vision and strategic priorities. Onboarding is a proactive process intended to substantially improve a new hire’s ability to understand the culture, contribute to the team, develop meaningful relationships, understand the leadership team and, ultimately, perform at his or her best.

Orientation. The Training industry article reports that:

…the onboarding is more comprehensive than an employee orientation, but orientations are valuable as well. They serve to help new hires become familiar with their colleagues; navigate the office space; and understand organizational policies, procedures, technologies and benefits. During orientation, employees receive their identification cards or badges and keys and security codes, learn where to go for office supplies, meet team members, and read and sign off on policies. As valuable as these activities are to the entire onboarding process, orientation alone does not come close to covering the depth of topics or engagement that an onboarding program does — and it was never meant to.

HR firm, People Managing People, published a helpful article in 2020 listing 10 steps to start the important welcoming experience of onboarding new employees.This onboarding checklist will apply regardless of whether you are starting a new team member in the office, working in hybrid mode or even fully remote with flexibility required due to responses to COVID restrictions. If the new arrival will operate on a fully remote basis, different requirements will apply. To start the planning process, meet with HR to agree on the communication role that would help to maximize the positive experiences of new employees. This onboarding checklist would be a useful reference.

  1. Present your new hire with an employment contract
  2. Welcome the new hire with a call and email
  3. Send a new hire welcome package
  4. Send a new hire orientation email
  5. Arrange for new hire paperwork to be completed
  6. Prepare the new hire’s work tools and resources
  7. Prepare the orientation program agenda
  8. Create a training, development plan
  9. Involve senior leaders in new hire orientation
  10. Provide opportunities to meet, greet, and learn.

Contribute to a re-recruitment program for new employees at milestone dates

Some organizations establish a formal process of ‘re-recruiting’ new employees to accelerate their performance and minimize the costly problem of premature resignations. This is especially important since the COVID epidemic has led to a wave of resignations in many countries. For instance, the New York Times reported in early 2022 that “the number of Americans quitting their jobs is the highest on record, as workers take advantage of strong employer demand to pursue better opportunities.” More than 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November 2021, according to the US Labor Department.

Typical newly-recruited, mid-level staff can require six months to reach the point at which they stop costing their employer money and start earning their keep. US figures show that average employee turnover is around 20% per year, so anything that can be done to reduce this figure will save thousands.

You can make a positive impact by recommending a re-recruitment campaign and participating in the communication elements of it. The re-recruitment campaign can take place at 30, 60 and 90-days after new arrivals start.

At 30 days, an HR person meets with new employees to see if their expectations are being met and to check whether they have all the support they need to perform their work. The 30-day period gives the employee long enough to learn about the job and its context, which can produce some unexpected issues on both sides that are better addressed.

At the 60-day point, new employees receive a second orientation to boost their communication and service skills, and the employer seeks feedback about the employees’ training and anything else they feel they may need to be successful. PR people can establish a communication coaching program to ensure the newcomer has the skills to communicate well in the workplace.

At 90 days, employees have a formal review with their manager, which focuses mainly on joint goal-setting for the balance of their first year on the job. In the US health-care sector, more than 25% of employees leave within the first 90 days.

Key questions to ask during re-recruitment

All this may seem labor-intensive, requiring a lot of time to implement. But experience has shown that a re-recruiting program is likely to cause departures to drop by two-thirds, an impressive reduction. The key questions to ask the new people include:

  • How do we compare with what we said in your interview process?
  • What’s working well?
  • Who has been helpful to you…and who hasn’t?
  • Using your past experience as a guide, what systems or ideas do you feel could improve our operations?
  • Is there anything you are experiencing that would cause you to think about leaving?

Create connections for new employees

Some employers also find a good way to bring new employees up to speed quickly is to get experienced employees to share their secrets of success with the organization. These employees need to be successful and to have worked there for 2-3 years, which is long enough to know the ropes and short enough to remember what it was like to be new. These employees are interviewed and their answers recorded on video, which is supplied to each new employee on arrival. A typical interview question is “What do you wish you had known about this place before you started?” Again, this has several communication elements.

Some successful employers try to connect the new arrivals with key people in the organization. The manager lists about 10 contacts for the newcomer to make themselves known to early on because they will be important to their job.

Other organizations conduct a 90-day integration program for new recruits by supplying them with an orientation ‘passport’. The passport consists of about 100 task statements (it could be fewer) that the new arrival must complete within their first 90 days on the job. The new starters must network through the organization to acquire the information to enter in their passport. Every task has to be signed off by a mentor who is assigned to them for that particular task. In this way the recruit’s learning period is spread over three months rather than in a few formal orientation briefings, and the recruit gains access to a wide cross-section of the organization and its staff. The process creates social contacts as well, which are important for a new arrival. The recruit receives a reward when they return the completed passport to HR at the end of 90 days. These activities help to maximize the positive experiences of new employees.

Build in feedback loops to managers to maximize the positive experiences of new employees

Feedback loops to their manager or supervisor are built into the process so their boss can keep track of their progress. The process also helps to reduce any inconsistencies of input from their managers, especially in organizations with decentralized operations spread over several locations or even several countries.

Think about the elements of the above activities that you could apply or recommend in your workplace for a more productive result.

Further reading

My article, “How effective communication drives onboarding success,” may also help with further useful ideas for communicating to help support the onboarding process – and so to maximize the positive experiences of new employees.

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from cuttingedgepr.com.

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