The Key to New Hire Orientation and Retention

By steve gott

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Many small businesses treat new hires the same: they bring them in the door, give them the employee handbook and start the training right away. But this is often a really bad approach that doesn't build any sense of loyalty, morale, or trust between the employee and the company. Solution? Start treating new hires like family.

Connect Early, Personally

When candidates walk in the door, they're not just looking for a job - they're looking for a friendly atmosphere where they feel comfortable. In a way, they're looking for a family - a home away from home.

For example, when someone is hired at, they don't just receive the employee handbook. They receive a department "buddy" that gives them a tour of the facilities, introduces them to the staff, and becomes a sort of mentor during the first few weeks of employment.

All new hires fill out a questionnaire - they answer questions about their personal lives, from pets to family details, and even hobbies. Then, the answers are shared with other employees via the company's Intranet.

During company meetings, employees are quizzed on the new hire's life. Employees giving correct answers get candy. Cool huh? Well, it's more than just cool, it's objectively a good way to bring an employee in and make them feel welcome. When you do something like that, they're not just employees. They're like family.

Make The Introduction About More Than Just The Employee Handbook

Some orientation classes are nothing but rules and regulations, company policy, and the infamous employee handbook. But, more forward-thinking companies are introducing the idea of injecting company culture and history into the orientation process.

It works. Chicago-based company, RadioFlyer, makes all new employees sit through orientation that discusses the company's mission statement, values, and company culture. New hires then hear more about the company's values over lunch with other staff members.

Finally, new hires are required to go ahead and audit customers' retail experiences and assemble RadioFlyer products themselves. All of this helps new employees to become more familiar with the company and the practices that they will implicitly be endorsing by working there.

How would you implement something like this in your company? Easy. Don't stop at the training offered by companies like K Alliance. Invite new hires to brunch, hold regular meetings to discuss your company's values, mission statement, and purpose. Immerse the new hires in the culture of your company.

Treat New Hires As Equals

Most employees are put on a probationary period. While this can make sense from an economic standpoint for the employer, it does nothing to build employee trust. In fact, it does the opposite. You set up an "us vs. them" mentality right from the very beginning. Instead of probationary periods, give your new hires access to all company benefits from day one - even vacation days. If that made you flinch a little, why did you hire the person? If you don't trust them to not abuse the system, then you need to find someone else for the job.


Anthony Buckley values employee productivity. He often blogs about effective methods of improving employee work and satisfaction.


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