With the high costs and time invested in recruiting and hiring employees, it is a simple truth that, above all, we want our employees to succeed. We take great care (or should anyway) to bring in the highest qualified applicants and conduct extensive interviews to identify who we feel will be best for the job.
We create and fine tune compensation and benefit packages, and we make offers to those that we feel will succeed over the long term.
But is that really enough? I don’t think so.
We can’t stop once the hiring is complete. The steps we take to on-board new employees and nurture the existing ones are critical in helping them to succeed. There are some unavoidable reasons why employees “don’t work out,” but we can certainly do our best to minimize that potential. Here are four steps:
1. Develop a comprehensive training program
Many employers believe in the buddy system style of training wherein new employees “shadow” a seasoned veteran who will “show them the ropes.” In theory this method of coworker training can be successful; in practice there are several inherent problems. The one pitfall not to be ignored: a seasoned employee takes “shortcuts” and fosters this unacceptable behavior in the new hire.
It’s more effective to design a comprehensive training program that allows new employees to see how tasks are accomplished in many if not all of the departments. (This will help a rookie meet the old souls around the building as well!) As for their job-specific training, you must ensure that what is being trained is exactly what you want them to execute and in the manner you wish it to be done. No shortcuts!
And don’t forget that being an employee is more than just doing the job. Office culture, information systems training, and even inside knowledge about where to eat lunch and best ways to commute are all integral to new employees feeling comfortable in their role.
2. Provide frequent feedback and coaching (as needed)
The first few weeks for new employees can be stressful. Everything is unfamiliar and insecurity about how they are “doing” can even undermine their ability to do the job. Sure, you might have plans to conduct a three- or six-month review, but that’s too long to wait. New employees must receive positive reinforcement on what they are doing well as well corrective coaching where they are struggling. Schedule a weekly “check-in” and provide them the feedback they need to succeed.
3. Encourage questions and comments
Being curious and asking questions shows that an employee is trying to do their job correctly. Make sure that they feel comfortable asking you or their supervisor for information and guidance on how to get things done. If they are asking the same questions over and over then you need to assess whether they are absorbing the information correctly or if the instructions provided are too confusing. Allow them to make comments on what can be done to ease their introduction to the company’s procedures.
4. Conduct ongoing training for all employees
Cultivating employee success begins with a successful on-boarding program and continues with regular training exercises. Existing employees need “refreshers” – to remind them of company policies, to reinvigorate potential, and to motivate towards career advancement. These will help to minimize attrition and provide for a stable and successful workforce, from the newest hires to the longest-tenured vets.
Remember: it is a two-way street for employer and employee. Both want to make it work, but it is up to the employer to provide the platform for success. After that, it’s up to the employee.