At some point or another, you’ve been a new hire. If you can recall, there’s nothing fun about it. It’s lonely and you feel like everyone knows each other and what they’re doing except for you. While landing the new job is exciting, the first few days and weeks are nothing but painful, grueling and a grind. Why all the angst?
Maybe it’s because it has been found that nearly half of all newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months of being hired, while only 19 percent will achieve unequivocal success. The reason for the failure? It’s not that these new hires aren’t smart or talented. It’s not that they do a bad job. It’s that they have “poor interpersonal skills that many managers admit were overlooked during the job interview process.”
Before you assume this study isn’t representative of the real world, let me tell you that results were compiled from more than 5,000 hiring managers from 312 public, private, business and healthcare organizations. Collectively, these managers have hired over 20,000 employees – just during the study period. I say this so you can grasp how widespread this issue is. If you’re in HR, you are probably nodding with recognition. You know how important a cultural fit is.
New hires know being hired doesn’t mean it’s a long-term gig. They jump ship often before their employers have time to let them go due to their “poor interpersonal skills.” In fact, more than 40 percent of employees leave their new job within six months of joining. Why? Fingers can often point to poor onboarding experience and/or a poor cultural fit.
What’s the common denominator among both employers and new hires? New hires need to fit in and employers need to do everything they can to make that happen.
Monster.com offers some friendly advice for new hires. Here’s the gist of it:
Act friendly at all times
Make small talk with coworkers
Find common ground with coworkers
Give coworkers time to warm up to you
Bring tasty treats to share
Don’t be too invasive
Don’t try to get all the gossip about coworkers
Don’t talk about your prior employer/employment
Don’t invite people to your interests
Don’t immediately add coworkers to your social media networks
So, first off, this list is scary and a little confusing. Act friendly, but don’t be too friendly. Make small talk, unless it involves talking about other people or your past. Win them over with food but don’t invite them over. It’s a slippery slope that no one wants to be on but employers can make things a little easier for new hires.
If companies want to keep their new hires, the ones they’ve spent around $4,000 and 10 hours of paperwork per person to hire, they have to do more to make the onboarding process better. Hiring is one thing; helping them fit into the office culture is quite another.
One of the best lists I’ve found around onboarding best practices gives practical advice to companies:
Reach out to new hires before their start date – begin onboarding early
Make their first day memorable – help them meet people through a coworker lunch, company-wide introductory email, and welcome notes/packages from coworkers
Keep their schedule tightly structured at first – employees in a well-structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to remain in the company after three years
Form a cross-departmental onboarding team with HR, management, coworkers and IT to help them through the first few weeks
Spread out the paperwork – prioritize which paperwork has to be completed now and what can wait so new hires aren’t overwhelmed
Get the whole company involved – schedule one-on-ones between new hires and veterans
Set expectations early and often – short and long-term goals can be set and progress monitored so everyone is on the same page
Allow new hires to give feedback – encourage feedback to constantly improve the onboarding process
Communicate culture early and often – present an honest view of company culture and provide tools to help new hires integrate with existing culture
Don’t expect new hires to hit the ground running – give new hires time and continue to schedule regular activities to help them get to know people and processes
Use this onboarding checklist to keep track of each of these crucial steps.
So what tool can be used to complement these best practices? Organizational chart software.
Some of the first things new hires want to understand is where they fit into the company, who is who, who does what, and how to connect with the people they need to help them do their jobs. Perhaps no other software provides a better way to satisfy all of these needs than org chart software, yet our own study shows only about 20 percent of companies realize it.
Org chart software not only presents a visual diagram of the company and all of its roles, levels of management and team breakdowns, but it helps new hires learn names, faces, job functions and positions, and skills. By adding photos to names and personal details to profiles, new hires can quickly learn who is who and with whom they may have things in common. They can scan the employee directory or search for a particular person and contact them with a touch of a button from their computer or a swipe of a finger from their mobile device.
Instead of feeling isolated, new hires can quickly make connections and skip that awkward period where they feel like they are the lone man (or woman) out. They spend less time asking questions and searching on intranet sites and more time engaging.
There are companies who make using their org charts fun – yes, org charts can be fun! They ease the onboarding process by designing games where new hires can challenge themselves and other new hires to learn as many names and faces or names and skillsets possible in a given time. Users can also search the software using Google-like words and phrases to find specific people within the company, like “Who do I ask about billing,” and “Which office does Jane work from?” Instead of annoying coworkers with such questions, the user can find what they need in an instant.
When new hires learn their coworkers names, understand their roles and responsibilities, feel like they can find who they need, and even make a friend or two early in the process, it’s amazing how much better the entire onboarding process goes. Everything else sort of falls into place.
I don’t think the onboarding process sucks because of paperwork or having to learn new processes. I think it’s hard because at the very core of all of us is the desire to fit in. It goes back to elementary school days and never ends. We may celebrate our uniqueness and quirkiness, but we all want to be part of a group where we feel like we belong. Being that we spend so much of our days and lives at work, it only makes sense that we should want to feel part of something when we’re there. Having a mentor, a buddy, a friend we look forward to seeing, people we can grab a burrito with at lunch or a beer after work – that helps us like where we work. It makes us stay.
The beauty of helping new hires through their onboarding process is that it introduces new people, new faces and new potential into the company as a whole. Everyone benefits. If the right hires are hired, they become part of the culture that makes the company successful. Giving every employee an easy way to learn about each other, connect with each other and leverage each other’s talents is perhaps one of the best things a company can do for its office culture.