Get Set for Success: Five Tips for Unlocking the Potential of New Hires

people talking in meeting

Your new hire has signed their contract, watched the required onboarding videos, and maybe even gotten some cool company swag. Now it’s time for you to show them to their desk.

So what’s next? Do you just walk away and leave them there to figure things out? That’s not exactly what you’d call a plan, never mind a strategy. Just how do you set your new hires up for success?

Getting onboarding right is no small thing: According to research conducted by HR consulting firm The Wynhurst Group, “New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.”

We all want to retain great talent. Let’s take a look at five tips for unlocking your new hire’s potential during those critical early days, weeks and months at your company.

1. Before they start

Onboarding doesn’t begin on the first day, it begins before your new hire even applies.

Top candidates have their pick of job opportunities, and they will compare your company to others based on what they see and read online. So communicating your employer brand and culture clearly and effectively from the start is essential if you want to attract people who’ll be a good fit.

Nowadays there are lots of ways to educate “talent in the wild” about your company. You can tell your story on your site, through social media, video or even via in-person events.

But the picture really becomes complete when you use Company Pages. Here you can combine most of those channels with the power of employee reviews, giving interested candidates the full sense of what it’s like to work at your company. The more informed your candidates are about your company before that first day, the better equipped they are to hit the ground running. 

2. The first day

Everyone knows what it’s like to be the “new person.” Feeling awkward, unsure or insecure on the first day of school or work is as natural as feeling cold on the South Pole. And studies have shown that anxiety in new situations, such as starting a new job, can come in part from not feeling confident about introducing ourselves.

Research has shown that social ties at work improve productivity and keep people engaged, so empower your hires to develop them from the start. Don’t just leave them at their desks and hope for the best. Help them nix anxiety and make those connections by introducing them to colleagues and teammates.

An introductory email is a good start, but it’s also the bare minimum. Encourage team members to stop by the new hire’s desk and be the first to say, “hello”. Establish an expectation on your team that everyone is welcoming, friendly and ready to help.

A team lunch on the first day isn’t a bad idea either. It’s a quick and fun way to break the ice and make new hires feel welcome (and you’ll enjoy it too).

millennials and mentors

3. The first week

Use the first week to set expectations and clear up any confusion a new hire may have about their role in the company.

Take the time to carefully define deadlines and deliverables—this will set a solid foundation for a good working relationship. People are much more easily motivated when they have clear goals to aim for.

Of course, some things can only be learned through time. Every firm has its own unique jargon not to mention all those mysterious, unwritten rules that are invisible to newcomers.

This is one reason why many Fortune 500 companies including Google, General Electric, and Time Warner Cable have implemented mentorship programs. Mentors can help answer questions surrounding the quirks of a company’s culture, while also providing constructive criticism and praise.

This is especially important if you hope to retain younger workers. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials who intend to to work at the same organization for more than five years are two times as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

4. The first month

So now your hire has been in the job for a month—this is a good time for a general check in to see see how they are doing and answer any lingering questions. This is important whoever you’ve hired, but if you are dealing specifically with a millennial hire, you should also plan for regular feedback sessions.

Millennials don’t just thrive with a mentor. A study conducted by SuccessFactors and Oxford Economics in 2014 found that they want feedback from their managers at least once a month, and probably more often.

The same study found that millennials want feedback 50% more often than employees in other generations. And although feedback sounds formal, many just want frequent, informal updates on their progress—and 56% of them felt that they weren’t getting enough.

So if you’re a hands-off kind of manager you may want to reconsider that for younger hires, who are always looking for ways to become better and more efficient at their jobs. Regular check-ins and coaching can help them achieve this.

That’s not all: an Indeed analysis showed that 65% of employees look for a new position within the first three months of starting a job, so regular check-ins could be vital for retaining new hires.

millennials feel they are not receiving feedback

5. The first 6 months

Employees can leave a company for many reasons, and one of the most common ones is to advance their career.

However, although millennials are often accused of job hopping, according to an Indeed survey most report staying in a position for an average of four years. Tenure for non-millennials is around seven years.

The truth is, while a job for life may be a thing of the past in most industries, if you give employees a chance to stick around and learn from you, and to grow in their careers, then they’ll take it.

So now that your new hire has had time to settle in, encourage them to think big, and to explore long term career goals at your firm.

Once their goals are defined, make sure that you support them by informing them of any training or growth opportunities that arise and outlining actionable steps to help them get to where they aim to be.

By implementing these tips, you won’t  just set up your new hire for short-term success—you’ll be unlocking potential which could positively impact your company for years to come. And who doesn’t want that?

Carmen Bryant is Director of Employer Insights at Indeed. 

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