"Good morning! Welcome to our company. Your desk's over there. Be sure to see Mary by the end of the day to fill out your paperwork. Have a great day!"
That's no way to greet the candidate you worked so hard to find, on his or her first day on the job! But that's what happens at all too many companies. If you break away from the pack, however, and handle the new hire's first day—or even first week—as an extension of the hiring process, you'll make great strides toward assuring that he or she gets off to the right start . You may even reduce your turnover in the process.
Your goal should be to provide orientation and training to help the new hire slide smoothly into the workings of your operation. Regardless of the person's rank, you owe it to him or her to provide orientation in the following three key areas:
1. "Personnel" orientation. "Be sure to see Mary for your paperwork," "Get your office supplies from Ralph," … these are not adequate introductions. Take the new hire around for a personal introduction to everyone he or she will come in contact with, starting with the immediate circle in the department. But keep in mind that most of these introductions will go by in a blur to the new person. Follow up by providing him or her with a company roster that shows names, titles, extension numbers and office room numbers.
2. "Social" orientation.That can be as simple as making sure the new hire doesn't eat alone on the first day. Whether it's a matter of seeing that someone sits with him or her in the company cafeteria or seeing that he or she is invited to tag along with a group going to McDonald's, this can be essential to acclimating the new hire to the organization's culture. This is not about personalities—the new person will inevitably have to make his or her own way in the organization, proving himself to the department, dealing with cliques, making friends, identifying enemies. But taking a few small steps to help new hires feel like a part of the group should help them do their jobs to the best of their ability. And that's why you hired them, isn't it?
3. "Physical" orientation. Designate someone to show the new person around—pointing out the bathrooms,the water fountain, the coffee machine, the cafeteria or lunch area,and the lockers and time clock (if appropriate). Point out the supervisor's office as well as the president's office. (How embarrassing would it be to be told the president of the company wanted to see you and you had no idea where to find him/her?) If your company is spread out over several floors or buildings, supply a floor plan or map if possible. Show him where you keep completed job orders, bills of lading or the keys to the forklifts, as appropriate.
Don't forget the computers.
Get someone with technical expertise to spend time to orient all new hires to your computer system. Make certain the LAN administrator has logged them onto the network and get them a password as soon as possible. Provide any other codes and passwords that may be necessary, such as copy machine codes. Pay special attention to the phone system. Every system is different, so you'll almost certainly need to show the new hire how to get an outside line, how to pick up voice mail, how to work the intercom and so forth.
All this takes time, to be sure, but the payoff can be big. If you see to it that every new hire receives the proper orientation, you'll probably find you won't have to go through the hiring process as often.