I recently had a client ask me to analyze why their nonprofit organization had such high employee turnover with newer employees.

First, I looked at their hiring process to see if there was any kind of flaw in how they were recruiting candidates. My thought was maybe there was disconnect from what the applicants were led to believe about the job and what they found after they were employed.

But things looked pretty consistent.

So, I then asked the general manager about the onboarding process. When he asked what that was, I had my first clue where the problem might lay.

It turns out the organization only thought a morning orientation was needed. By noon on day one, they had the newbie on the job, supposedly learning from a co-worker. It also turned out this co-worker had been thrown into the job about six months earlier, so his attitude was, "I had to learn it on my own with no support, so you can, too."


My message to everyone is that an opening day orientation is only one small (and fairly insignificant) part of the entire onboarding process.

I actually suggest a three-phase approach: pre-hire, first week and first month.

Before the person even starts, make sure you have a clean and welcoming workspace for them. No one wants to start a new job having to clean.

Make sure the IT group is informed in advance so the new hire can have their own email account on the first day. If business cards or desk/office name plates are used, have these made in time to welcome the new person on their first day.

And let others on your staff and in the office know of the new person starting. You want to promote an atmosphere of welcome from the moment they first walk in the door.

Phase two is all about the first week. Hopefully, you can provide them a job description and let them know that you will want to hear from them after one month about the accuracy of that description.

Have something for them to do on days one through five that is over and above their regular tasks and requires a deliverable at the end of the week. For example, you can give them a reading assignment about your business on Monday and ask them to give you an oral summary report on Friday.

During this opening week, you need to outline what you expect of this person. Let the new person know what you, as the supervisor, deem as a success. Establish some priorities so that when inundated, they have something to which to refer.

Phase three is the first month. This really builds upon the ideas from the first week. But I strongly advise my clients to perform a post-employment interview with each new hire after 30 days. Ask what parts of the job are the hardest to learn. See how you can help with any problem areas. And, ask about the job description. Don't be surprised if you learn something new about this person's job.

All of these will leave a very positive first impression with your new hire.

Randy Fox, SHRM, SCP, SPHR, is founder and senior partner of Capstone HR Services, Inc.

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