The integration of a new hire into your organization should start the minute the person reports for work on his first day. Successful integration of employees will increase business performance, minimize turnover and reduce recruiting expenses.
With new-hire programs, orientation is the easy part. The administration of bringing people on board (payroll, benefits, company policies, etc.) is unavoidable. But many companies fail to move successfully from the orientation to integration of staff. Integration goes beyond the basics into areas such as employee development and cultural assimilation.
Corning Glass Works found that employees who attended a structured orientation and integration program were 69 percent more likely to remain with the company after three years than those who did not. At Texas Instruments, new hires whose integration process was carefully attended to reached “full productivity” two months earlier than those whose process was not properly nurtured.
Assessing the New-Hire Program
When assessing the quality of your own new-hire efforts, ask:
Is our program fun and interactive? Orientation programs are notoriously boring and can set a troubling precedent for how interesting or dull work at a new company will be. There are plenty of techniques for spicing up the learning process and avoiding old-fashioned data dumps.
Do we make effective use of corporate stories? PowerPoint lectures and charts do not always inspire and capture the imagination of new hires. Great companies communicate their greatness through storytelling. Collect experiences from existing staff that speak to the unique personality of your organization. Have staff members and company leaders relay these stories during new-hire training sessions.
Do we make our process easy for new hires? Great customer-service organizations understand the customer’s experience from his perspective. Similarly, assess your process from the new hire’s perspective, making it more employee-centric and less employer-centric. Offload information to your Intranet site, encourage an environment of two-way communication, and provide information on an as-needed basis.
How are our managers equipped to do their part? Time and again, studies confirm that new employees’ relationships with their direct supervisors are major factors in increasing their engagement and performance. Manager training should help supervisors understand how to create a productive, positive and motivating work experience.
Do we make new hires feel welcome and connected to the company? Analyze each step of new employees’ first days, weeks or months. Are you are giving them the impression that you’re glad they’re here, or are you sending the message that you just want them to get things done? Simple things like welcome signs and cards or introductions to key leaders over lunch go a long way. Help new hires understand how they fit into the organization and how their daily tasks help contribute to fulfilling its mission and vision.
These factors are important and common sense, yet rarely addressed. Even with a solid orientation program in place, a better understanding of a new hire’s experience with your company will help you tailor plans to ensure long-term integration and success.
Ever wonder why some employees leave while others stay for the long haul? Monitor your turnover as more than just an annual percentage. Analyze detailed data about terminations to determine if a tenure threshold exists.
For example, if the vast majority of people are leaving your company within the first two years of employment, narrow your focus to this time frame. Also, bring the data to life by using surveys or interviews to uncover why some new hires choose to stay and others leave. Armed with this information, you’ll have a much more robust profile of your new-hire population.
Tying new-hire profile data to performance metrics on the job is a powerful combination. You can justify investment in new-hire programs by demonstrating how employee retention increases their performance and positively impacts the bottom line.
If successful in orienting new hires and integrating them into the fabric of the organization, your company can realize a significant return on investment. Mastering your integration efforts results in more engaged employees, increased performance, less turnover and less ongoing recruiting costs.
Clay Whitaker is the senior vice president of consulting services for Phoenix-based Michaels Wilder Group, a specialized advertising agency incorporating three divisions: Yellow Pages, Internet and recruitment advertising. For more information, visit www.michaelswilder.com.