Employee Day One

Sunday, February 5, 2017

An employee's first day of work is critical in getting the relationship with their new employer off to a good start, but many organisations fail to ensure the experience is a positive one, says human capital expert Anthony Sork. 

The four key drivers of attachment are security, trust, acceptance and belonging, he says. 

"Where an individual doesn't feel secure, doesn't feel that there's trust, doesn't feel they are accepted or belong, there is an increased risk they will look elsewhere. 

"And those perceptions are formed within the first 120 days of employment," he says, starting with the all-important day one

1. Don't delegate the "meet and greet"

A new employee's immediate manager or supervisor should be the one who welcomes them and shows them around when they arrive on day one, says Sork, Managing Director of Sork HC. 

It is easy for a busy manager to think, "OK, I'll shoot them off to the centralised induction and then I can get on with doing the job that I'm meant to be doing," Sork says. 

But welcoming a new worker is not a task that should be rushed or delegated. In fact, those first weeks and months are the time when the manager needs to focus the most time on their new employee. 

"It's going to be more pain and stress for the manager during that time, but the investment that they make will pay off in enhancing attachment, reducing the risk of attrition and increasing discretionary effort and performance," he says. 

2. Introduce them to Senior Leaders

Introducing a new employee to senior leaders early on should also be a priority. 

All too often, employees turn up and senior leaders are "a shape that walks by, and you get told who they are after they've passed", Sork says. 

But senior leaders should be aware that someone new is starting, and make an effort to introduce themselves to the individual. Even a brief introduction shows workers it is not just their manager, but the organisation that cares about them, he says. 

3. Deliver on your promises

Following through on terms and conditions that were agreed during the recruitment process is also vital, Sork says. 

"If you said they were going to get a new mobile phone, then make sure they've got a new mobile phone," and if you said it was going to be "new", make sure it really is. 

"Otherwise you start to erode the trust perception and that's not a good thing to happen on day one," he warns. 

4. Give them some space

Basic physical orientation, including knowing where bathrooms and lunch rooms are, is another day-one must. Providing the worker with some personal space is particularly important. 

"That could be a locker... it could be a desk, it could be a room, but they need to have ownership of some personal space from day one. Otherwise what you have is someone who feels displaced, so they don't actually feel like they've got a base to go back to, or somewhere to store some personal effects." 

5. Enable access and prioritise safety

A new employee's ability to get in and out of the building "under their own steam" - without having to rely on someone else - is also vital. 

And personal safety is "one of those deal breakers", Sork says. 

"If the perception is that my organisation doesn't care about my personal safety, then that really starts to erode that perception of trust and security." 

However, employers often think, "we'll get to that" because it is covered in a centralised induction. "That may not happen for a couple of months... It's actually very important to do those things up front," Sork says. 

6. Lay out a plan for the coming days

Providing the worker with a sense of what they will be doing the following day, and in days to come, can help them to develop and meet reasonable expectations. 

Give them milestones or expected learning outcomes as well, Sork says. 

7. Allow them to contribute

"Another really important thing is that on day one an individual needs to feel that they are a contributing member of the new social structure," he says. 

"Something as simple as teaching them the phone system [could] become a really important part of an individual feeling they can actually contribute to the team." 

However, a new employee should not be lumped with the jobs nobody else wants just because they are new. "You want to ensure the individual has a clear experience of the types of duties and responsibilities... they have agreed to take on in accepting the role."

8. Don't make comparisons

Comparing a worker to their predecessor is another all-too-common mistake, Sork says. 

"Acknowledge the good work [their predecessor] did... but get excited about the new way this new member is going to make the role their own," he says.