Mindful Humans

Welcoming a New Employee: A Guide

This article was published on the Revue Gestion website and co-written with Marie-Andrée Lévesque, President, founder of Caméléon RH, and expert in talent acquisition.

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Despite the considerable efforts invested in finding and hiring the right candidate in this era of labor shortages, companies often overlook a crucial factor for retaining their recruits: successful integration. It is estimated that 40% of corporate turnover is caused by employees leaving within a year of being hired.

Successful integration lays the groundwork for long-term success for both the worker and their employer. It aims not only to familiarize the new employee with the organization’s ways of doing things but also to reassure them about their choice and to facilitate their social integration within the team.

Indeed, the goal of integration is to actively nurture the newcomer’s motivation in order to strengthen their commitment to the company as quickly as possible, thus increasing retention chances. This requires focusing on the three levers of motivation at work, namely autonomy, the perception of contributing and developing, and the sense of belonging.

To achieve this, here are seven key principles necessary for implementing a successful integration process.

 

1. Recognize that the integration process is not solely the responsibility of human resources (far from it!)

Although typically developed by the human resources (HR) department, managers are the main actors in the integration of new employees.

Indeed, the HR department is normally responsible for the integration process for the entire organization. It ensures that managers are trained on the steps to follow and serves as a guide for both the new employee and their supervisor. Thus, this service acts as the guardian of the process’s proper execution.

However, managers are the ones who put most of these steps into action, as you would agree. And these steps should not be limited to explaining the organization’s ways of doing things. Successful integration must also focus on developing a sense of belonging. As leaders, managers are in a privileged position to build close relationships with newcomers, facilitate their integration into teams, and guide them through the organization’s maze.

 

2. Dazzle the new employee BEFORE their first day of work

Changing jobs involves a degree of anxiety since the employee is stepping out of their comfort zone. They may fear not being up to par, or they may dread being disappointed by their new position. While some embrace this new challenge with enthusiasm, others are terrified at the idea.

Adding to the anxiety, most candidates who accept a job offer in your organization will have to face their current manager to resign. They will also have to deal with the reaction of colleagues with whom they have built trusting relationships and even friendships.

Moreover, given the current labor shortage, it is likely that they will receive offers more advantageous than yours, promotions, pleas to stay, etc.

These factors can sow doubt about the decision to change jobs, which is not in your favor.

To reduce the pressure, why not take the time to contact your future employee, inquire about their state of mind after resigning, and inform them about their first day?

The goal is to quickly create a close and caring relationship with your new employee and, most importantly, to produce a significant “wow!” effect.

You will have thus contributed to nurturing their sense of belonging even before their arrival.

 

3. Focus on social integration to establish strong bonds with the employee from the first day

Keep in mind that your recruit is probably nervous about meeting you and getting to know their new colleagues. They will be eager to make a good impression and hope to create good relationships. It is therefore crucial to commit to making this person feel welcomed, as the more isolated an employee feels, the higher the risk they will leave their job.

Also remember the crucial role of your interactions with your new employee. They will have a direct effect on your ability to establish a transparent, lasting trust relationship with them and to nurture their commitment.

You must also ensure that your new employee has the opportunity to interact with different colleagues on a daily basis; members of their work team as well as those from other departments. This person must know who to turn to in case of problems or questions. This will reinforce their autonomy as well as their ability to contribute to the best of their skills by avoiding wasting time with uncertainties or unanswered questions.

So, why not involve the different members of your team in training the new employee? You can delegate part of the training to your team while promoting the development of your recruit’s social network.

 

4. Accelerate integration by introducing the newcomer to the company’s and team’s culture

To properly establish themselves, workers must understand not only the organizational structure but also the history of your company, its mission, and the values and norms that prevail there. All these elements are part of your culture and are essential for accelerating the integration of your new employee. The quicker they take ownership of these, the more capable they will be to see themselves as a character in your story, and the more integrated they will feel.

To achieve this, consider involving several department heads by asking them to share their reality with your recruit and to introduce them to different facets of the company’s history.

Think about explaining the written and unwritten rules of the company. These include elements of the culture such as the expression of appreciation, the conduct of meetings, the management of internal conflicts, influence and internal politics, or the clarification of the fundamental assumptions people have related to their role, their department, and the organization.

Also, consider clarifying the company’s vocabulary and acronyms that are not found on Google or in a dictionary. A newcomer needs internal resources who can serve as interpreters to help them decode these intangible elements of the organizational culture.

Gaining a fine knowledge of your organization will provide the new employee with the necessary context to accelerate the development of their autonomy and their ability to contribute to collective efforts; one more step to motivate them and create strong engagement on their part.

 

5. Assign a mentor to strengthen a sense of belonging and accelerate productivity

While managers play a central role in the process of integrating new workers into the company, a broader team effort ensures that the experience will be both positive and productive.

If colleagues contribute to knowledge transfer, you could also assign a mentor to your new employee. This person will play a completely different role: they will help the new employee build their network and will be able to answer questions about the company’s operations and social life.

Through less formal interactions with the newcomer, the mentor will allow them to better understand the context in which they operate, whether it’s identifying project stakeholders or navigating the organization properly, or identifying cultural norms and unwritten rules, among other examples. These are essential pieces of information not found in the employee manual!

The stronger the relationship between the mentor and the employee, the more access the latter will have to information and knowledge that will allow them to be productive quickly, and the better their ability to effectively contribute to the team’s work. Furthermore, their motivation will be increased.

 

6. Ensure frequent follow-ups

Frequent follow-ups between the manager and their new employee are essential for the successful integration of the person. They allow not only answering questions that might emerge on their side but also getting to know each other better.

During the first week, it is suggested to have daily follow-ups with the employee. The goal is then to build trust and verify that everything is going well.

After the first week, meetings will be less frequent, even weekly. The goal is then to ensure that the training continues adequately so that knowledge and skills develop at an appropriate pace. These meetings also serve to provide feedback to the newcomer about their progress in learning.

Good follow-up thus accelerates both autonomy, confidence, contribution, and the employee’s sense of belonging.

 

7. Create a development plan

Once the official integration period is over, efforts must not stop, quite the contrary! Your new employee still needs follow-ups and your presence to maximize the development of their skills. Ideally in collaboration with HR, managers should then develop a development plan for the months following integration, until the end of the first year.

The goal here is to enable a transition from the role of the “new” employee to that of a fully integrated employee. Of course, the development plan in question should be clear, but also composed of measurable objectives. These objectives will be evaluated during monthly meetings planned between the worker and their manager.

By focusing on all these principles, you will fuel your recruit’s motivation and stimulate their commitment. In the current employment market context, implementing a structured integration process truly increases the chances that your investments in time and effort to find the ideal candidate will bear fruit, by accelerating their performance as well as the retention of their services.

This is your chance to take concrete actions that will have great value in the eyes of your employee and your organization.

 

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