Tuesday, November 11, 2008


We've all been there before – the first day on the new job. You go through it all, excitement, nervousness, giddy heights and the overwhelming fear that you might not be up to the job. It's natural enough to go through this, but is there a way organizations could make the experience easier for new hires?

Onboarding services – like the kind the David Group can help you build – can slow this emotional carnival down and give new employees a chance to find their groove.

Years and years ago, during graduate school, I got to experience several first days with companies when I was a temp. Temping can be the ideal arrangement for full-time students, but, as the name implies, jobs come and go. There were good employers and bad employers like everywhere, but one particular bad example stands out even years later.

The job was an overly technical one, not the kind of thing you could just walk in and take on. The client had a proprietary software, the entire work process had to be done on this software, and no one had ever bothered to create a manual. After the usual walk through the building, watching my supervisor point at one person after another while rattling off at least thirty new names, she sat me down at a chair and started to train me to do the job.

And here my troubles began.

Not only was the software confusing, the precise process I was performing was never explained to me and my trainer had little patience or ability for the task. What the goal I was meant to accomplish was completely left out of any explanation. Was I in the billing procedure, the marketing function, the inventory department – what?

If you couldn't guess, I flailed on the software for half the day, constantly getting out of my chair to approach my supervisor with questions. Somehow in the twenty minute tutorial, I hadn't managed to absorb every contingency and its accompanying alternate work flow chart.

And each question only increased my supervisor's frustrations. By 11:30am, she was openly raising her voice at my incompetence and sighing heavily and sarcastically. By my noon lunch break, I was on the phone to the temp agency requesting reassignment.

While my example might seem a little extreme, the fact is that 90% of new employees make up their mind whether or not they will stay in a position within the first six months of hire. New employee turnover rates can bedevil the best companies if they don't have a thorough and inviting onboarding strategy in place.

That means, obviously, a well-developed, easy-to-follow training process with manuals and competent instructors, but there are a lot of easy to implement procedures that can make all the difference in the world. A welcoming gift is simple to provide and it doesn't need to cost much at all. It can be as small as a cookie or the first day's lunch on the company. The important thing to remember is that onboarding has to start almost immediately after an applicant accepts your offer, has to have the new employee's comfort and satisfaction in mind, and can't simply disappear after the first couple hours of employment.

If you're not sure what you should do, then consider consulting experts who can guide you in the nuts and bolts. The payoff is almost sure to follow.

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