Making Your Employee’s First Day Their Best Day

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ToddlerAn employee’s first day on the job can sometimes be their worst. It’s often filled with paperwork and onboarding activities, and they rarely get a chance to actually work. The first day of a new hire’s job is often not indicative of what it’s really like to work at the company.

Despite the highly developed skill set a new hire may have — say, a highly skilled programmer entering their first job at a tech firm — they may find it difficult to optimize their workflow and get a feel for the company culture. With the proper onboarding process, however, you can make your new hires feel a little less lost.

Between all the paperwork and presentations, the first day on the job is usually more of a hassle than an introduction. It can get so bad, in fact, that 4 percent of employees leave their jobs after having a terrible first day.

Good Onboarding Is Good Retention

That number — 4 percent — is too high when you consider what it means: someone applied for a job, was then contacted by the employer for an interview, performed well enough to be offered a job, and was prepared to work at a company — but because day one left such a bad impression, they opted to try their luck elsewhere. Consider the amount of investment an employe must put into the hiring process — and consider that 1 in every 25 new hires leaves at this point in the process, wasting both their time and yours. Isn’t that unacceptable?

I’ve talked about how important retention is before, and getting your employee started on the right track is the first step to keeping them around longer. If you have a good onboarding program, you’re likely to have 31 percent less turnover than companies that haven’t figured out what to do with the people they’ve just hired.

Make the First Step the Easiest

So, what does a good onboarding process look like? That depends on the company culture. For example, Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture, describes how tech company Red Hat introduces itself to new employees:

“Red Hat brings new employees to its Raleigh headquarters for an intensive multiple-day program in which new employees are taken through the company’s brand book – its cultural ‘Bible’; introduced to a range of employee ambassadors[;] and given an iconic team-building tchotchke – a red [f]edora. The company shows it cares from the get-go, not only explaining its brand and culture in between form-filling-out-sessions, but also branding the new employees as its own by providing them with the beginnings of a Red Hat uniform.”

Making a good and lasting first impression is as important for companies as it is for new hires. Those initial tax and work forms need to be completed, but there’s no reason they have to take up the entirety of an employee’s first day. Recently, companies have started the practice of preboarding, in which new hires are educated on all of their employer’s policies before they’re even in the door on their first day. New employees can even fill out paperwork online between the time they accept the offer and their first day.

Making your employees feel welcome from the get-go is a big part of getting them to stick around longer. In a market that favors candidates, where the average cost of hiring a new employee is about $58,000, it’s getting harder and harder to not justify investing in a valuable onboarding process — one that focuses on building a long-term new hire commitment, rather than one that drives employees away after a single day on the job.

By Sean Pomeroy