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Boost retention: Focus on every new employee’s ’5 Firsts’

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in Human Resources

by Mel Kleiman

First impressions are lasting. Many employees are not.

Some were probably not a good fit in the first place. But some productive, dependable, hard-to-replace employees bolt, too. And contrary to what they may tell you, they didn’t really leave for more money.

“More money” is just a polite way of saying they were unhappy and went looking elsewhere for what we all want from our jobs—a sense of accomplishment, personal recognition, and the “can do” teamwork environment that makes us look forward to getting out of bed in the morning.

Keeping your best people doesn’t have to take a lot of time. All it really takes are small doses of quality time that make the most of first impressions:

1. First Hour on the Job

This is not the time for completing paperwork or going over safety rules. This is the time to make introductions and to make the person feel welcome. Explain why the job is important and how job performance will affect customers and co-workers.

This is the time to encourage your new hire to ask questions. Take the time to share a little of your company’s history so the new person feels like “part of the family.”

2. End of the First Day

Your new employee is reeling from a day filled with the unfamiliar. Spend the last 15 minutes of that first day debriefing, answering questions and ensuring the new hire leaves with a positive impression.

3. End of the First Week

Sit with the new employee to find out how the week went. This meeting is also an opportune time to find out why he left his last job and why he joined you. (This also helps reinforce in his mind that he made the right “buying decision.”)

4. First Paycheck

Even if you have a direct deposit system, present the first paycheck or deposit slip to the employee in person.

If the new employee has been great, this is the time to tell him. Be specific about what he has accomplished and tell him he really earned his check.

If the person has not lived up to expectations, tell him you feel he has only earned 75% of the paycheck. Give specific reasons why. This gets more difficult the longer he is with you. Do it up front and save some grief.

5. First Year Anniversary

Look for reasons to celebrate. Some places have one celebration each month that includes birthdays and employment anniversaries. In others, both anniversaries and birthdays are acknowledged by a card and small gift (gift certificate, an afternoon off, etc.).

Too many employers still hold to the old world view that it is up to their employees to impress them. While that’s still true, it would be to your advantage if it were reciprocal. Get out in front of the curve and take these first five opportunities to impress every new employee with the respect, acknowledgment and appreciation that will keep them motivated and on your team.


Mel Kleiman is a popular speaker, consultant and author of seven books on management and retention, including the best-selling Hire Tough, Manage Easy. Learn more at www.humetrics.com.

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