On Boarding New Employees

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.

If you struggle with finding and keeping great employees, contact an ArboRisk team member today! Our Thrive Risk Management Hiring & Recruiting Package and team of experts will help you one-on-one to create a hiring and recruiting plan that works for your organization.

Written by: Jim Skiera

Personality Testing for Employers

Personality Testing For Employers

How many times have you heard someone say, “I hire for personality not skills”? It’s a common theme amongst many owners and managers even in skilled labor industries like tree care world. So what does that mean and why are they doing it?


The simple response that you will hear is that skills can be taught, personality cannot. I agree with this thought process and want to give you an article devoted to figuring out what personalities you have currently and what type you’d like to build your team around.


Find the Right Tool – Just like using the proper sized saw for a removal job, the first step is to commit to using a tool to help identify key characteristics that you want to see in your team members. There are many personality tests on the market today, however, my favorite one is True Colors. True Colors is a simple personality test that helps highlight how individuals communicate and what they value most which in turn helps create a better team atmosphere within your organization.


I first was introduced to the True Colors system while attending a Leadership Workshop for the ISA a few years ago. All of the participants at the workshop took the short test and were split up into groups based on our colors. It was incredible to see how accurate the simple test was at identifying our core personalities. Throughout the workshop, we wore nametags that had our primary color listed. It helped all of us communicate much better and understand where the other party was coming from when discussing certain topics. Because I found it so powerful, I brought it back to the Wisconsin Arborist Association to do with our Board Members and internally for my team at my agency. Knowing how others communicate has been a tremendous help to accomplishing any of our goals.


Test Your Current Staff – Once you choose which tool you will use, have your current employees take the profile and discuss the results with each of them individually. What did you learn about your top performers? Are there common traits amongst the best within your team? What skills does your team lack as a whole? Learning from these tests will help you identify what type of person you want to hire next. It also can help you recognize if you have someone in the wrong role. Perhaps, one of your production climbers would be better suited as a sales person because of their personality. Or maybe the opposite, a person on the sales team would be better fit for technical work like consulting or plant health care. Understanding who you have on your team and how they interact with others is an enormous benefit to you as the leader of the organization.


Use with Interviewees – Lastly, when you are looking to bring in someone to your team, have them take the same test that the rest of the team has. Make sure that their personality will fit the position that they are applying for. Too often in the tree care industry, owner’s hire anybody with a pulse and a driver’s license. This will only do one thing; set up the business and new employee for future pain and trouble when personalities clash and internal issues arise that would have been prevented if they were never hired.


Getting the right person on your team is difficult to do, however, using personality tests can be a great tool for you. And because there always seems to be a shortage of potential employees, check out our article on the 5 Hiring Hotspots to get some ideas on how to start recruiting top notch talent.


Written by: Eric Petersen