The new guy didn’t work out – something’s wrong with the recruitment process!

One of the greatest sources of frustrations for organisations, not to mention the sunk cost is when a new employee fails to live up to expectations and ends up leaving the business prematurely. A personal frustration in working both within HR and recruitment is when the recruitment process itself is blamed for the new employee not working out. In my view, the recruitment process is the easy bit – managing the new employee appropriately and effectively is the more difficult task. Sadly, the importance of on-boarding and early development of new employees is often underestimated by managers.

The recruitment process is a relatively simple function. Candidates are identified against job requirements and the most suitable individual is selected after undergoing some sort of selection process. What is produced at the end of this process is a candidate who has the ability to perform the role as it was defined and presented to them. In theory, once the candidate is offered the role, the recruitment process is concluded. The candidate then becomes an employee who is inducted, trained and welcomed into the organisation. In my experience, this is the most overlooked task of a manager. Often it is assumed that the new employee will hit the ground running and be productive from day one therefore reducing the need for any special attention from management.

It has been said that new employees make the decision to leave a new organisation within the first two weeks of employment. I have seen other research that suggests this decision takes up to three months. In any case, the importance of proper induction and on-boarding should not be underestimated. The good news is that it needn’t be complicated either – here are a few simple guidleines to keep in mind when introducing new employees into the workplace:

  1. Structured training and induction program – plan out the first few weeks for the new employee and provide a copy to them. The plan should clearly articulate what they will be doing, where they will be doing it and who will be working with them. This is the single most effective way of reducing anxiety for new employees. As time goes on you can become less prescriptive about how new people will spend their time as they begin to find their feet.
  2. Be in the office – if you are their direct manager make sure you block out your diary for at least the first couple of days or even a week after they commence employment. Being present means that you are available to train and instruct, but also sends a clear message that you care.
  3. Role clarity – make sure the job they applied for is the job they will be performing. This is no time to update that old position description or make a few tweaks to KPI’s. Nothing is more disengaging for a new employee than shifting goal posts and it is surprising just how often it occurs.
  4. Introductions – it’s simple but powerful. Make sure you introduce the new employee to everyone on the floor, or in their immediate work area. Starting a new job is stressful enough without having to introduce yourself to everyone.
  5. Review performance and provide feedback – at regular intervals make sure you review the performance of the new employee (which will really be progress against the induction and training plans) and provide feedback. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from them in terms of how they are finding the new job. Is there anything you can do to assist?

As always, communication is the most important factor in ensuring that you become aware of issues as they arise. Make sure that you regularly engage in conversation with your new people to understand how they are finding the new role. If there are problems maybe you will be able to address then before they let you know about them in the exit interview.

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