How to Set Up New Employees for Success

Helping a new employee adjust to a new job in a new environment can save your company money and ensure greater success down the road.
August 08, 2012

Just because you've successfully weeded out job candidates and settled on a new hire doesn't mean the job of bringing that employee on board is over. In fact, to give the new worker the best chance at success, your work is just beginning.

The Cost of Failure Is High

If you thought the cost of hiring a new employee is high, know it's nothing compared with the cost of losing that employee if the worker isn't integrated into the company from the start.

A staggering 50 percent of executives either quit or are fired within their first three years on the job and the cost of that turnover could be many times the worker's base salary, according to the human resources think tank Human Capital Institute. Couple that with the loss of productivity from an employee who isn't clear about a job's objectives and the cost to a business can be significant.

Individualized Attention Is Best

Sure, orientation programs teach the basic ins and outs of the company to new employees. Often, however, that antiseptic approach gives the new hire the minimum and instills a sink-or-swim mentality.

Onboarding a worker tailors the information more toward the employee and encourages success—something the new hire is eager to do on the job.

Architect and business owner Gerit Lewisch of Pennsylvania says a business should have all its paperwork ready and the technical details in place before the new employee walks in on the first day.

"That will show the new hire that the company is truly interested and that the employer means business," he says. "Keep in mind the hire is eager to show off his or her qualifications and will try to have a running start."

The Devil Is in the Details

When the new employee walks in the door, the following things should already be in place or happen to maximize the worker's first day on the job:

1. Prepare all the paperwork. This includes tax forms, insurance applications, work releases and any other necessary documents to get the worker started.

2. Personally welcome your new employee. Nothing shows how much you care about your new hire than a face-to-face greeting, especially in a small business. On the flip side, do you really want a new hire to get the impression your company is indifferent if you forgo a personal greeting?

3. Discuss job expectations. Know there will be a learning curve for any new worker, but make sure the hire understands the job and its requirements to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings.

4. Set up the work station. Beyond equipment, make sure to have any computer log-ins, phone system IDs, e-mail accounts and security clearance needed for the worker to do the job.

5. Show your new hire around. Give a tour of your company and introduce the new worker to the other staff. Don't be surprised if the new hire has questions about basic things—remember he or she has a lot to absorb on the first day.

6. Keep it simple on Day 1. Give the new worker a simple task that relates to the job. Let the worker accomplish something on the first day.

The Buddy System

Assign a staff member who is well-versed in your company's culture and expectations to be a mentor to the new employee so the person has a connection to go to if questions should arise.

The important idea here is to get the worker plugged in to the staff as easily and as quickly as possible. The mentor shouldn't be the new hire's direct boss because the boss will be responsible for assessing the worker's progress as he or she settles in to the job.

The rest of the staff, too, should be informed of how the new employee will fit in to the workplace to avoid any confusion. "The company has to make sure that the co-workers understand the needs of the company and that the new employee does not threaten their jobs, but will enhance the team in place," Lewisch says.

Linda Doell is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 20 years' experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via Contently.com.