What ‘Bar Rescue’ Can Teach Us about Onboarding

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BarWatching one of my favorite television programs opened my eyes to how little effort some companies put into their onboarding processes. “Bar Rescue” is a Spike TV show in which Jon Taffer, a successful bar consultant, helps bar owners find the reasons their businesses are failing. One of the issues Taffer finds often is a lack of onboarding. Sometimes, the manager is to blame for lack of training and, sometimes, even the manager never received adequate guidance. Whatever the case, the results are always the same: miscommunication leads to bad customer service, loss of money, and unhappy employees.

Onboarding can be as difficult for the person in charge of planning and carrying it out as it is for the new hire. That “first day on the job” feeling is difficult to handle, but so is this terrifying statistic about how many employees quit within the first few months: 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months, while 25 percent leave the company within the first year. Of course, an exited employee costs more than the time it takes to replace him or her: with all the little pieces accounted for, an employee who walks could cost a company as much as 150 percent of their annual salary. That’s enough to make any hiring manager nervous.

Start with Transparency

When someone is hired, it’s because there is a need within the company that has to be filled. Unfortunately, it’s not fair to the new employee to expect a hit-the-ground-running start. The first day on the clock should be spent familiarizing the new hire with the company, the perks, and their responsibilities, answering as many questions as possible.

The first step to starting off on the right foot is providing some type of orientation. It’s always tempting to believe that a new hire with experience in the field won’t need as much of an introduction as one that is inexperienced, but that belief does a disservice to your team: 75 percent of new hires believe that orientation is beneficial to their success.

Orientation should cover company policies, missions, and values, as well as the needs and importance of the position the hire is filling. In fact, 73 percent of new employees want a review of company policies. Businesses with this type of effective and open communication are 50 percent more likely to have lower turnover rates.

Training for All

Though the new hire may have a grasp on the practical and intricate parts of the job after an orientation and introduction to company procedures, they still can’t be expected to perform as the rest of your more tenured team does. Again, expecting anything else hurts everyone involved. A third of new hires want on-the-job training. There needs to be a grace period where a new employee can make mistakes, ask questions, and just become more comfortable in their position.

Training is a chance to teach a new employee what makes your company work, but it is also a chance to reacquaint current employees with the habits that make them great at their jobs. It’s both a boost in morale and a reassurance that your team is as great as they can be.

Support Success and Failure

Once all the learning and training is completed, the nurturing process begins. Employees have a life cycle of sorts, and the time after training ends is a very vulnerable stage. The hire needs the room to grow, which means they need the comfort of knowing a mistake is not the end of their success. Celebrate the good days and work on problems in a constructive manner.

Mentoring programs are a great resource for freshly trained employees. A mentoring program will allow new employees to directly bring their questions to a knowledgeable source, and it will also present more responsibility to a seasoned employee who is eager for growth.

If an employee does something wrong, you have to know it came down to not following process. If they were not given those processes to follow, then the blame lies on you as the employer.” – Alex Membrillo, cofounder and CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions

When Jon Taffer first watches the processes and procedures of the bar he is trying to help, he generally shows frustration and anger. Though he usually focuses on the employees’ bad habits, it’s the owners and managers he comes down on. There are times that a new hire just does not fit your company, but if your turnover is high, it might be time to take a look at the onboarding program you may or may not have.


By Marissa Litty