Recognise This! – It can take weeks to recruit the perfect employee, but just 1 day to disengage them.

An impressive recruit wants to work for you. You’re quite impressed with the recruit’s achievements, personality and seeming fit with your organisation. Then they show up at work the first day, experience your onboarding process, and are ready to beg for their old job back after two days.

What happened? This story in TLNT (and more awful examples in the comments) tells the story of “Herb” who had long wanted to work at a financial institution, was quite excited to move through the interview and selection process quickly, and started to a first day of nothing but disappointment. No one knew he was starting. No workstation and accompanying materials were ready for him. No one welcomed him, trained him, or offered him any kind of onboarding experience.

If you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of recruiting and hiring, doesn’t it make sense to be sure the new employee actually wants to stay once they start? Three tips to make sure that happens:

   1. Be ready and welcoming – Inform reception of the new hire’s name, expected time and who to call. Be sure the on-site manager is ready to welcome the person with a complete workstation (including all necessary computer equipment, working telephone, etc.) and introduce him/her around the office. Have someone lined up to take the new person to lunch.

   2. Introduce them to your culture on day 1 – Don’t just hand the new hire the employee handbook, which typically reads as guidebook to what NOT to do. Also introduce the new hire to everything that makes your company a great place to work. If you have a strategic recognition programme, show the employee how it works. Make it clear your company is all about working hard and praising hard work.

   3. Have meaningful work ready for the first day – Too often the first day on a job is spent dealing with minutiae, forms, etc. Give the employee an introduction to the valuable contributions they will be making to the company. Have a project ready they can begin on day 1 to give them a flavor of the work they will be doing, but also set realistic expectations on delivery and completion based on training needs, etc.

Do you have a first day on the job horror story? What do you wish had happened instead? What onboarding process do you follow in your organisation? How well does it work?