When it comes to best practices in ensuring employee retention, few things are overlooked as often as the proper onboarding of new employees. Nothing can be more damaging to getting a new employee off on the right foot than doing a poor job with onboarding.
Far too often, managers think that when you start out a new employee, all you have to do is give them a quick introduction to the two or three people they will work most closely with, show them where the bathrooms are, tell them the hours they are expected to be at work and when payday is, and they are good to go.
You may think this in an exaggeration but, unfortunately for many new employees, it is not. Everyone knows the expression: “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” Well, it is also true that you only get one chance to set up a new employee for success. And that is exactly what you are doing with a proper onboarding process. How you go about that, and the attention that you give it tells your new employee a lot about you as a manager, and how much you value your employees and your culture. Onboarding serves not only to give a new employee practical information that they will need in the job, but having that information serves to give them confidence starting out.
Onboarding begins with an initial Day One orientation. Some best practices in orientation are:
- Arrange for the employee to meet the owner or general manager. This ensures that the owner has a chance to meet each new employee when they first start, but also makes the new employee feel that he/ she is valued enough that the owner would take time out of their day to meet them.
- Introduce them to a contact in HR so they know who to go to with questions on payroll, vacation, and other related issues.
- Do a personal “walk around” and introduce them to co-workers in their department as well as any other departments they will be working with.
- Assign them a “buddy” who they can go to for answers to questions that may arise.
- Ensure that they have a written job description, and sit down and review it with them. Take time to answer any questions they may have. You would not believe how many new employees start out a job without a written job description. Just because it is clear to you what that person’s role is doesn’t mean that it is clear to them. Also, both you and the employee will need to have a written document for future reference. This is helpful for the employee should they need to jog their memory and get clarification on their responsibilities. It is also needed when it comes time for performance evaluations and discussing the meeting of goals and objectives.
- Hopefully, your organization already has an Employee Handbook in place. If not, you should speak to your HR department about developing one. They are very useful in answering frequently asked questions and ensuring company policies are fully understood.
Day 30 Check-In
Having a well-thought out and comprehensive Day One orientation sets the stage for success with new employees. However, it is critical to also have a 30 day check-in to ensure things are running along smoothly for them. Some best practices for that check-in are:
- First of all, speak with their assigned buddy and see what they have to say. You want to know how your new employee has been getting along, what questions they have had, and if there were any questions the buddy was unable to answer. This can help guide your discussion with the new employee.
- Set up the 30-day discussion with your employee at least a day or two ahead of time. The employee will be much more prepared to talk if they have had time to think about the upcoming meeting and prepare themselves.
- Ask and answer any questions they may have.
- Ask if there are any resources they need in their job that they do not have access to.
- Give them feedback on how they are doing – if there are any developing habits that are of concern, you are much better off to nip them in the bud right from the beginning.
- End the conversation by asking what you can do personally as their manager to help them be successful in their role.
- If you make the commitment to establish a robust and comprehensive onboarding process such as this, you will find that your business, your employee retention, and your company culture will all benefit greatly.
How to Create a Supportive Work Environment For Females
The number of working female technicians in the transportation industry is currently less than 2%. With the serious shortage of technicians that exists today, the lack of professional female techs creates a huge opportunity to help fill the gap. Bringing female technicians onboard will not only help fill those empty stalls but creates a more gender-balanced working environment that is reflective of the number of women driving vehicles, as well as purchasing and servicing those vehicles. However, if you are serious about hiring female technicians, and even more importantly, retaining them, then there are some things that would be helpful to keep in mind.
- Beginning with your recruitment materials, and throughout the entire recruiting, interviewing and hiring process, be sure to use him/her, he/she language to welcome both genders so that all recruits feel welcomed and respected. If you are using photo imagery, make certain that both genders are depicted.
- Ensure your company’s advertising, TV commercials, in-house wall art etc. is respectful of women. Innappropriate photos of women in suggestive poses and skimpy bikinis are in poor taste and have no place in the workplace. Nothing will turn-off a prospective female technician walking through your shop for the first time more than seeing these types of posters, calendars and the like posted on walls and toolboxes in the workshop. Likewise, is this the image you want your company to convey to the public? Would you want your customers seeing them either?
- Don’t ask your female techs to wear a man’s uniform. Their uniforms should be women-cut and tailored.
- Ensure you have a dedicated women’s restroom and changing room for your female technicians.
- Establish culture and parameters from the get-go. When hiring a female, before she starts, lay down the expectations of proper behavior with your male staff. Make it very clear that there will be no tolerance for unacceptable comments, inappropriate jokes, hazing, etc. If an issue does occur, respond immediately, making it clear that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. If you have not already done so, put mandatory sexual harassment awareness training in place for ALL employees. Women as well as men should be aware of gender boundary issues.
- Distribution of work in the shop must be done fairly between men and women so you don’t create animosity on either side.
- Ensure that you have a fair and equitable policy in place when it comes to children and family issues and/or emergencies.
- When planning any recruitment activities, (open house, career fairs, etc.) be sure to include the presence of your female tech(s) as well. Have them available to speak to and help attract other young women!