Poor on-boarding of new associates can lead to turnover. As we all know, training and development of new associates is costly, and you won’t receive a return on your investment if the turnover rate during the initial year is high.

Set Realistic and Accurate Expectations
Starting a new job or switching careers is stressful; occasionally a new employee might decide that their job is not a good fit. Being open about the expectations and tasks involved with the position from the beginning is key. It also helps to weed out those who may have the wrong idea.

Provide On-going and Realistic Training
After the initial training process, it is important to have ongoing training and development opportunities. Adults tend to learn better hands-on. If you have a safe, risk-free environment where new hires can practice their skills, this will aid in their retention and ability to apply what they have learn more quickly. If you use scenarios, make them realistic. Associates should practice handling situations that they are likely to encounter on the job. Nothing is worse than practicing scenarios in training that you never encounter on the job; it is wasteful.

Provide Post-training Coaching and Mentoring
Regardless of the amount of training and development, when they finally make that first phone call, it is extremely stressful. If left on their own, with no coach or mentor to guide and provide feedback, they will likely become overwhelmed. Even with all of the knowledge and skills the best trainer can provide, most new associates want and need a coach to let them know they are on the right track or to provide constructive feedback when they have made an error. Feeling overwhelmed, coupled with not knowing if they are doing what they are supposed to do, could easily cause new hires to question their future with the company, and this could lead to turnover.

Select Your Coaches Carefully
Side-by-sides or shadowing can be a great development tool; however, it should not be the only development tool following the initial training. Additionally, if you use side-by-sides, it is important to select associates who demonstrate the type of performance and work ethic you want the new hire to emulate. Numbers alone do not qualify someone to be a coach. Pairing a new associate with a seasoned veteran who cuts corners or has a bad attitude — despite high performance — can be detrimental.

When associates begin a new job, they expect someone to guide them and help them be successful. They hope to work with someone who is infinitely patient and approachable. They don’t want to feel as though they are a bother to the person who is coaching them (body language is important — no folded arms).

Associates should feel comfortable asking questions, and have someone available to answer questions at all times. They want constant feedback, whether it is good or bad. If no feedback is provided, associates may assume that they must be doing well even if they are not, and they will continue with the same behavior. This leads to bad habits that may be hard to correct. Alternatively, they may be constantly concerned that they are not performing up to par and worry that someone will eventually “drop a bomb” on them as it relates to performance feedback.

Enroll the Whole Team in On-Boarding
My final suggestion is to be prepared. Make sure that all departments and individuals who are part of your on-boarding process know when new associates are scheduled to start. They should have their desk set up — clean (no dust, crumbs, or skin cells from the previous tenant!) — and ready to go by the time they are ready to use it. Make it a big deal; place name tags on their desks before they arrive so their neighbors can learn their names in advance. I like to place balloons at the desks of new associates, using the company colors, to bring attention to the newest members.

I once started a new job before my predecessor had actually vacated the position. My office was still full of her personal belongings and I had to set up a temporary desk in a closet…yes, a closet. The person responsible for showing me the ropes was not even aware that I was starting that day. I was so completely overwhelmed that I had to convince myself to go back to the office after lunch. It was tempting to just run and never look back. Always be prepared.

Good luck and happy training!

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