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Put Your Best Foot Forward

Improve retention and make a strong first impression with effective employee onboarding strategies. Learn how to engage and retain valuable employees.

Hiring has never been more challenging. Keeping staff has never been more important. Retention is complex but starts the minute your employee accepts the offer. Research by SHRM  has shown that employees know within the first hour, on their first day,  if they’ll be a long-term employee or if this is a stepping stone.

If you’re like most businesses we’ve talked to in the past 6 months, hiring is the single biggest challenge this year so you can’t afford to pass up any opportunities.

So what can you do to improve retention, especially in your most valuable employees? Whether you’re hiring a millwright or a project manager, it turns out you can swing the odds in your favor with some fairly basic steps

Be Ready.

Imagine two scenarios.

    1. It’s Monday morning and you show up at your new job. You’re slightly nervous but excited. You get to the front desk and the receptionist is surprised to see you, unaware of a new hire. 20 minutes pass and someone comes out to get you where they lead you to an empty desk. Your computer, email and everything else you need to hit the ground running are nowhere to be seen. Even worse you’ve been forgotten about – people walk by and look at you, wondering who you are. By noon you still haven’t been able to get in touch with your supervisor or been able to do any work.
    2. On Friday afternoon you get a welcome email from your new supervisor telling you what to expect on Monday including their contact info and the coordinates for your new team. On Monday morning you show and you’re welcomed by your new supervisor and a handful of seasoned co-workers. You check in, get shown around and introduced to your new team before going to your new desk which is fully setup. By 10:00 AM you’ve met the team and started work.

Which would you prefer? Which would make you feel valued? First impressions are incredibly important. Whether you’re a laborer on a rig or an engineer in a downtown office, you’d want to feel important. Your employees are the core of your business but the daily rush can often get in the way of expressing how important your employees are without a conscious effort.

Early Paperwork

Who doesn’t love spending their morning filling out redundant paperwork? Not me, or anyone else I’ve ever onboarded. 90% of paperwork can be done digitally in the week leading up to their first day. Use the first days for technical and culture introductions. No one has ever gone home after their first day and told their friends about the thrilling tax forms.

Welcome Shoutout

(Almost) everyone likes a little recognition. A simple yet personalized LinkedIn post welcoming Jim or Lisa to the company instills a lot of pride and belonging on day one. Disclaimer: Ask first – for a range of reasons some folks would prefer to remain under the radar.

360 Lunches

They say there’s no free lunch. But we encourage our employees to take them.
360 lunches are fairly simple - the new hire and everyone above, below and laterally within their group goes to lunch. Never more than 4 people so they can actually get to know each other.
It takes time to get integrated into a new team and find your rhythm and while that will naturally happen in the office over time, a few lunches can supercharge that integration.


Onboarding doesn’t end on the first morning.

It’s actually an ongoing process over the first days and weeks. We’ve found this to be the best balance between being overly intrusive and staying in touch.

  • 24 Hours - Check in on the next morning
  • First days can be stressful and exciting. There are undoubtedly questions and comments your newest employee has from day one.
  • Friday Afternoon - Assuming they started on a Monday, Friday afternoon is the perfect time to catch up
  • What worked well, what challenges are they facing. We find new hires have excellent suggestions for ways to improve the onboarding process at this five day mark.
  • Friday #2s
  • This is when you’ll start to see their true colors including opportunities and concerns.
  • 1 Month
  • We like to do the first round of performance evaluations after 30 days. This is a great opportunity to identify what's working well and what needs some improvement before long standing habits are formed.

Finally, it can’t be understated how important it is to follow up on the concerns and comments raised during these meetings. If someone’s shared drive access isn’t working or payroll still isn’t right it’s critical to get these issues ironed out ASAP.

If you're an OPAS Mobile customer our ERM module is the perfect place to track employee engagements and easily create quick action items for follow up. You’re busy, but you can’t afford for your new hire to feel forgotten and undervalued.

A Better Way to Onboard

If all of this sounds complex, you’re not alone. There’s a lot involved in a great onboarding but it’s 100% worth it. We believe in onboarding so much that we built a free onboarding checklist that you can download here.

If you’re an OPAS Mobile customer you can look forward to an even easier onboarding experience with the launch of our revised HRIS tools this fall. From certifications to timecards, we’ll have everything in one place to save you time and ensure you make a strong first impression on every new hire.

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