Want to Retain Employees? It Starts on Their First Day

| Updated

3 minute read

Onboarding plays a surprisingly pivotal role in a staffer’s job satisfaction. Find out how to make your process a success.

Having a problem keeping onsite or corporate staffers in the job? Jared Miller, Principal & Managing Director, Asset Management & Operations at Homestead Development Partners, says the problems could start on an employee’s first day.

Whether it is not having their computers set up, finding their desk lacking basic office supplies or not getting a chance to meet their coworkers, 54 percent of all new hires reported a “mishap” on their first day, according to Miller.

“The first day sets the tone for everything moving forward,” Miller said at CampusConnex in Orlando.

Even more startling, 4 percent of new hires leave the job after an awful experience on their first day.

Tammy Chivers Baker, Talent Development Consultant for TCB Talent Solutions, agrees. “Employee satisfaction is linked to them leaving that first day feeling like they made an impact,” she says.

Part of the problem is perception, according to Miller. While companies may perceive their onboarding process one way, a team member’s actual experience could be something completely different.

Citing a survey from Bamboo Human Resources, Kara Rice, Owner of Experiment Learning & Talent Development, says that employers lose one of every six hires in the first 90 days. More than 32 percent of those new hires say they barely received any onboarding, or none at all.

One way to fix that is to develop a stakeholder—a person on the team who coordinates with IT, the office manager and anyone that else that touches an employee’s first day. 

“Somebody needs to take responsibility for contacting all of the people involved in the onboarding process and coordinating the process,” Rice says.

A big part of success is introducing new employees to people throughout the organization early on. Let them meet other people, make connections and develop friendships. That increases their chances of staying, according to Rice.

“We want them to stay as long as possible so we don’t have to go through the hiring process again,” she says.

Successful orientations can extend beyond the first day.

“Some companies have week-long orientations to get people jazzed up about working for them,” Baker says.

Baker says employers should either start a new-hire early on their first day or wait a few hours after the workday begins. “If you cannot start early, start later to give yourself a chance to get work done before they [the new hire] come in,” she says.

It is also a good idea to start on a Wednesday or Thursday. And when they start, someone should be at the front door to greet them.

Some firms employ creative onboarding process, such as connecting all new team members via social media or video chat.

“Some companies hold scavenger hunts where new team members get a list of questions and have to seek out people to get answers,” Baker says.

Gifts can also make people feel welcome. Miller pointed out the “swag” he received earlier at his career at Red Peak in Denver, while Baker pointed to an even more inventive approach.

“At one company, after the first week, they present the new hire with a gift to give to a confidante that helped with their job search,” Baker says.

Baker advises company’s to also make a list of small, manageable goals for the new employee to accomplish early on.

“Also, remember to check in when they leave at the end of the first day,” she says.