Here’s your desk & there’s the bathroom. Now get to work.

Here’s your desk & there’s the bathroom. Now get to work.

You just hire a new employee and have invested 2 months of your valuable time going through the selection and hiring process. There is a total of 100 hours invested in hiring your star programmer, costing your company $35,000 – $50,000. The team is super excited to get this person on on-board. Their skills are exactly what was missing and will take a lot of pressure of them because they have be understaffed for 3 ½ months.

The newest member of your team is very nervous about leaving their last company but came because the money was a little better and the projects seemed exciting. They arrive at the front lobby for their first day and you receive a call from the receptionist announcing their arrival. You are in a middle of a conference call with some executives.  You call your Lead Developer to get the newest staff member and, you say, “Peter, please get Sally from reception and show them around.”

An hour later, you make your way over to Sally and you find her on the internet looking at job postings.

90% of an employee’s decision to stay with a company happens within the first 6 months of joining! Yet, 60% of companies have no formal on-boarding process.

A proper on-boarding plan reduces this by 18%, reducing turnover and mistakes resulting from lack of training.  In addition, companies who have formal on-boarding plans reduce the time it takes to get to full productivity by 50%, down from 6-8 months to less than 100 days.

Companies have taken some interesting steps to amalgamate new staff into the fold. For example Facebook  tape a piece of paper on the monitor: “Welcome to Facebook!” Underneath, printed in big, bold, red letters, are slogans like: “We hack therefore we are,” or “Move fast and break things.” “Within days, your software code will be in front of more than 845 million users”.

The best companies have a clear plan and process. These companies have increased retention, increased moral, increased productivity, strong team bond and greater loyalty to the company and its brand.

Here are 10 innovative things companies are doing to help acclimatise new staff:

  1. WAP (Welcome Aboard Party): This is an event held by the company or department where all the staff celebrates the arrival of the newest team members. The party has music, food and drinks. Think of the bonds this would create for everyone involved!
  2. Start Buddy: The company has volunteers from the new employee’s department to partner with them for the first 4 weeks. The individuals give them tours, offer advice, answer basic questions, assist with training and provide reports to management.
  3. Friday Starts: Many companies like to have their new employees start on a Friday. This is the day most staff are open and relaxed. Also, this gives the new staff a rest before they start their training on Monday.
  4. Meeting with President: Every employee gets to meet the President of the company within their first 2 weeks. The larger the company the more impressive it is, with large companies, the President will meet the new hires in a large group, but still shaking their hands.
  5. Swag: Many companies provide new hires with a lot a company swag, including pens, clothing, mugs, note pads, key chains and other need items; this builds excitement of being part of the company and is a great branding opportunity.
  6. Welcome Sign: At the front entrance, there is a personalized welcome sign for each new employee.
  7. Deliverable Checklist: A road map of expectations and deliverables by the newest staff member, this enables them to check things off upon completion leaving the sense of accomplishment.
  8. Onboarding Feedback Survey: At the end of the first 3 months, an employee will receive a survey to critique the process and offer areas of improvement.
  9.  Everything ready for the first day: When a staff member joins they are lost looking for a home to settle into. If their space is set up with a fully functional computer, training manual and welcome package, they feel at home.
  10. Early Onboard: Providing materials for the employee before they officially start will allow them to become familiar with the company and their role.

Again, the employee retention statistics are horrifying and by themselves are reason enough to be upset with HR, but it takes a community to raise an employee. You have a great opportunity to improve the retention and performance numbers in your organization by rethinking how we design new hire training programs to consider the entire on-boarding experience.

What have you done to improve how your organization onboards new employees? 

Motivate Your Staff

Do you know what motivates your staff?

Most people in the technology industry are generally considered smart, and highly skilled in math, logic and problem solving. However, these highly developed technical skills usually come at the expense of their interpersonal skills. IT managers are not immune to this imbalance and spend little time to improve these underdeveloped skills. Making matters worse, we recognize and promote based on results and reward for performance. The consequence is that managers spend 95% of their time focusing on measurable items and pay little attention to the emotions of their staff. This is not because managers don’t like people or don’t care, but few of them have an idea of what employees really want from a boss.

“But that warm fuzzy is what HR does. I do delivery,” is the common retort.  True, but employees do not leave a job because HR did not give them enough hugs. The old adage holds true; people join companies but leave managers. Surveys show individuals quit for 5 main reasons: pay, management, career advancement, benefits and other. Many of these can be influenced by management. We can reduce turnover simply by understanding your staff’s desires.

The following CIO letter will shed some light on what matters most to workers.  The results from a survey of 500 employees by the Lore International Institute over a 2 year period shows some interesting insight and some pretty basic things we can all improve on.  Here are the findings:

More than 90% of employees want honesty and integrity from their managers. An equal number desire fairness across all staff and for management to hold everyone accountable to the same standards.  Furthermore, just over 75% indicated they sought after trust, respect, dependability, collaboration and appreciation.  But only 14% wanted interesting conversations from their manager and only 3% wanted them to be a friend.

These requirements seem easy to roll out but can be difficult to sustain. We, as managers, will revert to our natural personalities.  So what else can be done? Fortunately, Randstad surveyed 6000 people throughout North America giving more insight. What will make them happy?

Job Flexibility 72%
Liking the team they work with 71%
Pleasant work environment 68%
Workplace is an easy commute 68%
Challenging work 65%
Job security 65%
Ability to work independently 59%
Opportunity for advancement 55%

Based on these results, here are 6 suggestions to improve employee satisfaction and lower turn-over:

  1. Make the work space look better; get rid of office clutter (cables, computer equipment, books, files, etc.), get some plants, find local schools for art, replace lighting with full spectrum light bulbs and use creative ways to make the environment better.
  2. Try to hire local; the closer staff live to the office and the shorter the commute will increase loyalty and happiness.
  3. Find ways to allow people to work from home on occasion.
  4. Establish flexible work hours when possible, sometimes four day work weeks would make sense.
  5. Look for ways to give more self-direction to your staff.
  6. Have an off-site staff bonding session to promote team work; it can be as simple as a soccer or baseball game in the park.

Lastly, here are 4 things you should say on a regular basis:

“How can I help?” This statement will aid you in determining impediments your staff face in performing at their best.

  1. “Great job on…” Any praise is welcome by everyone. We all crave appreciation and receiving it can be more motivating to staff than anything else.
  2. “Can I have your thoughts on…?” Engaging your staff in decisions and discussion will make them feel part of the solution and not just a cog in the wheel.
  3. “Thank you.” Two words that can never be over used. Using them more often is not simply for common courtesy, but as a way of connecting and showing appreciation for a job well done.

Try some of these ten pointers; you may find them to be successful in helping you to reduce your turn-over. We advise not to try all of them since you might find some cynicism from your team, especially the younger members.

Do your employees hate their jobs?

We have come through a pretty wrought economic period; many have coined it the Great Recession. Most of the 1st world fared far worse than Canada like the US, Ireland, UK, Iceland and Greece to name a few. The impact we faced here was significantly shorter and less deep. The Canadian job market has now recovered all the positions we lost during the recession. As with most economic slowdowns, the end is marked by a large wave employee turnover. Most companies are just starting to grow again, consequently many companies are caught flat-footed by this turn-over and they see many of their great people leave. This CIO letter is to outline what is happening with the labour force and how to manage through it.

Where does this turn-over come from?

Recessions create some interesting dynamics in the labour market. There are 4 main forces that influence people:

  1. Employee layoffs – during a recession companies stop hiring and then slowly start their lay-offs, initially the C players are cut, then as the recession takes hold, under-utilized resources and over paid resources and finally entire departments and companies are released.
  2. Staff Stasis – with lack of jobs and layoffs, people stop looking for work and with a fear of unemployment, they tolerate much more to keep their pay check. The result is employees do whatever it takes to keep working.
  3. Contractor Convert to Full time – a slower economy produces less project work thus creates less work for contractors. These workers react in a predictable manner by taking full time positions at lower pay.
  4. Under-employment expands – with higher unemployment; people take any work to pay bills. Often taking positions they are over-qualified for, outside their career path and most likely at much lower salaries than they earned at their previous position.

These main crosscurrents result in very little voluntary employee turn-over during a recession. While companies benefit with lower voluntary turnover during the slow down, the downside of this stability is a pent-up demand for a change in employment.  As soon as the layoffs stop and companies begin to hire again, people dust off their resume and start cruising the job boards.  This causes a problem for companies. If a company has 1,000 employees and they need to grow by 10%, but their turnover has increased from 5% to 15%, hiring over 200 additional people than you hired the year prior is required. That adds a substantial unexpected cost to an organization.

The latest survey from Right Management confirmed we have now entered this phase of the business cycle. They surveyed 1400 people and found 84 percent planned to look for jobs in 2011, up from 60 percent last year.

Why do people leave?

Interestingly, the reasons for leaving are very stable and have a similar pattern post recession as that prior to the recession.  In a survey from here the top reasons:


Inadequate Compensation


Inadequate Career Opportunity


Insufficient Recognition




Inadequate Benefits


Inadequate Professional Development


Insufficient Job Security


Impact on Health or Stress Level


Poor Management


Undesirable Commute


Some of these issues are difficult to resolve, but fortunately you can do things to improve some areas. One way to determine underlying issues is to implement an employee satisfaction survey for your team. You may find some gold nuggets that you can use to increase job satisfaction. This improvement will lead to productivity improvements and reduced turnover. Other good advice is to just listen to your employees and observe changes in behaviours. These are very good for determining employee happiness.

Some of the reasons for turn-over can be traced back to the initial recruitment. For example, commute times impact 4% of a person’s decision to leave. Our advice to our clients when recruiting people is that 60% of their hiring decisions should be on personality fit.  Understanding a candidate’s career aspirations and motivations up front will reduce the possibly of their leaving because of career or boredom. Also, don’t over promise or over sell the job, you need to be realistic and honest about the duties and career growth.

Some minor improvements to understanding your team better and improving your hiring processes will help your organization manage through this turnover period.