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The False End Zone of Hiring

Success! You’ve done the hard part. It’s taken a lot of time, effort, energy, and a few false starts, but you've finally found the right candidate to fill your desperately needed role. And now the candidate’s first day is fast approaching! While the initial process of getting the interviews scheduled, an offer negotiated, the background check done, and the appropriate paperwork in place is important, it's not the end. It's a false end zone – there's more work to do.

To ensure the up-front investment of getting this candidate to accept the offer isn't wasted, it's important to recognize that the real work of getting that candidate fully assimilated into your organization and productive in their new role is just beginning.

Consider this: According to research by Brandon Hall Group,

Great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and increase productivity by over 70%

That's significant, given the tight labor market we are now facing.

Once you get the right candidates in place, you want to do all you can to keep them. Even with this pretty impressive statistic, Gallup found that only 12% of employees surveyed think their organization has a good onboarding program, which means 88% of organizations don't onboard well. Yikes!

The good news? Organizations, and their leaders, are 100% in control of how onboarding programs are developed, delivered, and improved. And as leaders, we have a significant role in how all of this plays out.

It’s About Human Connection

We have seen a massive shift to hybrid and remote work in the last two and a half years, which means the onboarding process has also shifted. While physical distance can seem like a barrier to an effective onboarding process for remote and hybrid employees, it doesn't have to be. When Microsoft hired 50,000 during the pandemic, most of them worked remotely. When asked about this massive hiring spree, in less-than-ideal circumstances, CEO Satya Nadella indicated there was one key ingredient to making the onboarding process smooth for these new hires. It wasn't technological connection, but rather human connection – with the hiring manager – that was essential.

"The biggest thing we found is that direct connection to your immediate manager [matters]," Nadella explains. Previously, onboarding was a short-term event with numerous people involved in cobbling a plan together. Now, for Microsoft, the concept involves more intentional managerial involvement - in both the planning and the execution – much like a full-service concierge.

Have a Plan – and Own It!

Creating a meaningful onboarding experience will take time and effort on the front end, and as busy managers, we may often feel like we simply don’t have time to set aside for new hires. It seems like handholding, and we just need them to dig in and do the job. As a new hire, my manager once told me during our first in-person meeting, "I don't have time to hold your hand; I just need you to do your job." And there's genuine authenticity in feeling this way – it’s okay to acknowledge the time commitment new hires require

But remember the stats at the beginning of this blog?

Resist the temptation of downgrading the importance of a plan for your new hire. Resist the temptation to schedule your new hire for hours of back-to-back webinars and company videos. Embrace the energy they bring with them on their first day and use that to fuel your commitment to their onboarding experience. They are excited about joining your organization! With a little planning and intentional connection on a human level, your retention rates will increase, your employee productivity will increase, and your job as a manager will be more focused on outcomes and less focused on backfilling positions.

Progressive Milestones Matter

What does this mean in practice? Time matters – and I'm not talking about making the onboarding process go quickly. Rather, the onboarding process is a journey, not an event, and will encompass a variety of short-term, mid-term, and long-term milestones along the way. Conceptually, most people think of onboarding as the first week of completing paperwork, finding out where the restrooms are, and meeting with IT to set up computer and system access. But it's so much more than that – it's about learning organizational culture, norms, and processes. It's about understanding one's role in the organization, and how one's specific skillsets will make an impact on critical KPIs. It's also about understanding how to strengthen and develop skillsets that can help make the organization better. It's about getting to know your go-to colleagues for guidance and camaraderie. It's about feeling connected with the people around you, but also feeling connected to your role and the impact you will have on overall organizational success.

At Butler Street, we talk about the Four Bs in our Leadership Effectiveness training – Basics, Backing, Belonging, and Becoming. These milestones don't happen overnight, and certainly not in a week. It takes time to support a new employee through all four stages, and onboarding is a critical element that managers need to weave into the ideal candidate experience for long-term employee success. Contact us to get started on designing and implementing an effective onboarding program to drive retention and growth!


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