Tips on “Getting Your Employees Productive from Day One”

What your new employee sees, hears, learns and feels on this first day of work – and the days and weeks that follow – will form the foundation of their employee experience, so it’s important that none of it be left to chance.


Welcoming a new employee into your company is always a happy occasion. After all of the phone conversations, interviews, background checks and other formalities, it feels really good to know that you’ve found someone who fits the job perfectly. Now your attention turns to their first day of work, and you’re eager to get them up and running as soon as possible – just as they’re eager to learn the ropes and begin making meaningful contributions.

 On boarding doesn’t have to mean Boring

 On boarding programs run the gamut in terms of what they include, how comprehensive they are, and ultimately how effective they are in getting your new employees up to speed quickly. In today’s fast paced, digitally savvy and highly visual society, there is no reason why the on boarding process has to reflect the antiquated HR practices of the 1970s. While some organizations remain satisfied with having the individual sit for two hours with a stack of papers waiting in front of them, those who have embraced the new standards of online and mobile for consuming information are reaping the benefits. A 2011 survey by McKinsey found that the penetration rate for online video across PCs, mobile and tablets by those aged 13-34 was 85%1. By creating a richer experience, these companies have seized the opportunity to make a powerful and positive first impression on new hires – making them feel even more welcome and valued.

 First Impressions Last a Lifetime

 For the new and nervous employee, the on boarding program is their first glimpse into your working world and how much you value your workforce, and should act as a validation that they made the right choice in joining your organization. These impressions will fast become opinions about the company, its brand, and its values, and can be the difference between them showing mild interest and enthusiastic engagement for the first few weeks. So what can you do to decrease the time-to-productivity ratio for new hires, minimize the risk and cost of early departures, and ignite a fire in them that will hopefully continue to burn for years to come? Here are a few best practices to consider:

1. Orient Them before the First Day of Work

Above and beyond what your new hire may have learned about your organization in preparation for their interviews, it’s always helpful for them to learn even more about your company. Using online video can be an impressive and enjoyable way to introduce your company story, the leadership team (a welcome message from the CEO is always a nice touch), the organizational structure, and your mission, vision and values.

2. Train Them to Fit, Not Just Perform

 Perhaps not surprisingly, a large number of new employees don’t work out because they don’t fit the company culture – not because they aren’t performing to expectations. If your recruitment and hiring process emphasizes fit (and it should) – and not just skills or experience – then training them to fit well into your organization should be an easier task.  A good on boarding program should help the new hire to make the best use of their time, and give them the tools to navigate and learn not only the major aspects of the job, but also the subtleties and nuances that are equally as important. Instil in them the need to ask lots of questions, and the right kind from the right people. To deepen their understanding, encourage them to ask ‘why’ and not just ‘what’, and develop in them a hunger to learn and to do well. Company management should also be leading by example and mirroring the desired behaviour that you want to see in your new employees.

3. Communicate Often and Check In Frequently

Many organizations take off the training wheels for new hires much too early, only to realize they are veering off course soon after by not learning quickly enough, focusing on the wrong tasks, or not building relationships. As part of your on boarding program, set expectations with your new employees that they are to check-in with their managers for 15 minutes each day for the first two weeks. Scheduling these discussions will allow managers to ensure that the employee is connecting the right dots and learning at the right speed, and will reinforce with your new employees that the company is listening, and cares about their success.

4. Assign a Mentor to Guide Them

 The first few weeks are stressful times for new employees as they set out to learn their new jobs and begin to meet performance expectations. It’s not always a smooth road to travel however, and sometimes having the supportive and empathetic ear of a colleague can make all the difference in the world. On their first day of work, introduce them to a mentor – not their manager, but ideally a more established employee who has successfully completed the on boarding process in the not too distant past, and can be ally to turn to for questions, advice and feedback. Watching videos of current employees talk about what helped them to succeed early on will also act as a great motivational tool.

5. Don’t Play ‘Sink or Swim’

 For those organizations with sparse or no on boarding program at all, the new employee is often left to their own devices to take their job description and somehow begin to make an impact. In these situations, the likelihood is quite high that the on boarding program will not be successful, and the employee will either be let go or voluntary resign soon after – forcing the company to begin the hiring cycle all over again.

Set clear objectives and milestones to reach at regular intervals, as well as recapping what they should have learned up to that point in time. Once again, creating online videos for them to watch will help them to understand their performance objectives, and assist with their continued engagement, learning and training.

Please contact Mary on 086 8225448 for support with on boarding programmes.

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