On Boarding New Employees
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that 33% of new hires begin looking for new positions within six months of hire! That is a huge percentage!
As you know, bringing on a new team member takes a considerable amount of time and energy. However, what often happens next is the effort that went into finding the right talent creates a temporary sense of relief, and the energy level of your management team drops. The on-boarding of the new employee is typically limited to filling out all the paperwork and sending the recruit out to fit into the work environment to learn the job and company culture. Magically they become a member of the team. You know they have the skills and experience to succeed so integration should just happen right? Not quite.
SHRM research also finds that it costs up to 9 months of an employee’s salary to find and replace an employee and that a proper on-boarding process lowers recruitment costs, increases employee retention rate by 50%, as well as increasing productivity by as much as 54%.
One of the main reasons employees leave is because they are not engaged with their new role and don’t feel like part of the team. Why? Because no one took the time to teach them the duties of the job, culture and ground rules.
Top performing tree care companies, the ones you’re competing with for talent, look at on-boarding as the process of integrating a new employee into the company culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. It starts during the interview process and continues, step by step, until the employee is actively engaged and productive. The development of a thorough and repeatable on-boarding experience is an investment every company should make.
How to Develop an On-boarding Process
To start, let’s not confuse on-boarding with orientation. Orientation is the start of the process and typically lasts a week or so. It consists of filling out all the paperwork, going over the employee handbook, work rules, job duties, introduction to other team members and other routine tasks. On-boarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.
Here’s some key questions for the company leadership to answer while developing an on-boarding process:
- What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day?
- What do new employees need to know about the culture and work environment?
- What role will HR play in the process? What about direct managers? Co-workers?
- What kind of goals do you want to set for new employees?
- How will you gather feedback on the program and measure its success?
Once these questions have been answered, devise an action plan to help new employees quickly assimilate company policies and workflow, while getting fully acquainted with the organization’s culture. We know tree care is a high-risk occupation. It is vital the on-boarding process includes regular and consistent briefings on the risks and hazards associated with daily operations. This is typically where the injuries occur, clear communication is required to operate as a team on the job site, and we all know each crew has its own language and set of expectations.
Something often overlooked, is the impact of on-boarding on the existing team members. Psychologist, Bruce Tuckman first described a path that teams follow during on-boarding of a new employee. Understanding this impact will be beneficial when establishing your on-boarding process.
Forming – “Welcome to the team”. Initially this stage can be very positive, however, formal processes and frameworks have not yet been established and the ground rules are not known by all team members. The strengths and weakness of other all team members may also not be known yet.
Storming– At this stage the team members begin to understand their role and what is expected. When new members are added, new skills and expectations are added to the mix, which can be a source of frustration. In this stage, the team leader needs to be aware of the stress put on the team associated with the integration and training of the new employee, and the challenges it presents to keep the work completed on time.
Norming– If integration is successful, the team will begin to hit its stride by working productively as a team. Each member understands their strengths as well as the strengths of others.
Performing– The final stage of the on-boarding process is when the team is functioning at a high level. Adding and removing team members at this point will have minimal impact, as it will allow the team to communicate team expectations quickly and effectively to new members.
Creating a solid on-boarding process is as simple as knowing what questions to ask your leadership team and considering each of the four stages above.