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On an employee's first day

Seven ways to build commitment on your employees’ first day

Most of us remember our first day on the job. Everything was new. We didn’t know what to expect. We quickly formed impressions of our new employer, our new co-workers and most importantly, our new boss. Through what happens on Day One, organizations plant the seeds of staff retention or resignation. By the end of their first day, newcomers are already contemplating their futures. Some will commit to their new employer, while others will commit to a new job search.

As a supervisor, you want new employees to leave at the end of the first day feeling an enhanced sense of excitement about their work, where they work and the people with whom they work. You want them to feel committed to your organization.

Knowing the value of first impressions, it is important that the process of welcoming new staff be taken seriously and be well-planned. Everything that the newcomer experiences during her first few days should confirm the wisdom of her decision to accept your job offer. Your organization is where she was meant to be. The orientation period is a time to build rapport and commitment, to acquaint the newcomer with the organization and its culture.
Here are seven things that you, as a manager or supervisor, can do to improve the retention of new staff:

  1. Begin Early – The task of making a job offer should never be delegated. The job offer should come from someone whom the newcomer will perceive as significant within the organization, such as you, her soon-to-be direct supervisor. Others may contact the new employee as well. Imagine the impact when one of the first calls a new employee receives comes from the CEO or some other senior executive, just to welcome her to the organization.

  2. Be Prepared – To avoid scrambling at the last minute, plan for the new employee’s arrival. Ensure that what she needs will be available on Day One: business cards, a name badge, computer access, her name on internal directories. Post a sign where she will see it when she arrives welcoming her to the organization.

  3. Involve Others – Let current staff know someone will be joining them. Provide background information on the newcomer – her name, her training and experience, her start date and why you believe she will be an asset to the organization. Invite someone to serve as her mentor, clueing her into those important little things than never seem to be part of the official orientation. Arrange for everyone to gather for coffee and muffins on Day One. Ask a few staff members to take her for lunch. Have everyone sign a card welcoming her on board.

  4. Share the Good News – Do you know some good things about the new employee? You sure do, based on what you learned about her during the interview that led to your decision to offer her the job. Let her know why she was hired. What on her resume impressed you? What did you hear during the interview that convinced you that she was the one? How will the organization benefit from having her on staff? And don’t stop there. Look for behaviours on Day One for which you can recognize her. Keep the good news flowing!

  5. Spread Out the Orientation – Be selective about what and how much you tell new employees. Resist the temptation to tell the new staff everything they will ever need to know on Day One. There is a limit to how much anyone can absorb at one time. Discuss the organization’s culture, and the beliefs and values that guide people’s actions. Provide enough information about specific aspects of the job to enable new employees to begin to contribute. Schedule additional training and orientation sessions over the next weeks.

  6. Allow Newcomers to Contribute – Your new employees feel they were hired due to their skills and knowledge. They are eager to get started, to demonstrate what they can do. Too much time spent completing forms, studying procedure manuals, and memorizing policies and guidelines can soon diminish the enthusiasm of even the most energetic newcomer. Create opportunities for her to contribute, albeit it in a small way.

  7. Ask “How was Your Day?” – As important as it is that you, the supervisor, are there to greet the new employee at the beginning of the day, it is equally important that you spend time with her near the end of the day. Discuss the day. Ask questions: “How was your day? What did you learn today? How were you able to contribute? What questions do you have about our company?” This is also a good time for you to provide specific, positive feedback on something you saw the newcomer do well.

Time you spend “re-recruiting” staff on Day One improves the chances that they will commit to the organization and become more focused on the tasks at hand rather than on updating their resume.

This article is based on a longer article, filled with suggestions on how to welcome new employees and get them to commit to your organization. To request this free article, e-mail Nelson at nmscott@telus.net. Please include the words “Day One article” in your subject line.

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