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Have a new hire? How to guarantee the least amount of loyalty in no time flat

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Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

With all that’s been written about the importance of employee engagement, you’d think our workplaces would be brimming over with programs, policies, and procedures to entice employees to stay put forever and a day while doing their best work ever.

Yeah …

Sure, some companies get it right. These are companies where employees can earn a decent living and feel valued, respected, and proud of the work they do at the same time.

But then there are those other kind of companies—the kind with various and sundry policymakers who just don’t seem to understand (or care about) human nature that well.

These companies are chock full of dumb policies that practically dare employees to begin looking elsewhere from Day 1. (No, I’m not talking about Amazon's "Here's Some Money to Quit" policy.)

I’m talking about:

  • Long benefit waiting periods. A provision in the Affordable Care Act prohibits self-insured and insured group health plans from requiring employees to wait more than 90 days before health insurance becomes effective, and on behalf of uninsured new hires everywhere, I’m glad for the provision. However, a 90-day waiting period is practically archaic nowadays. What employer of choice does that? While your new employees are anxiously waiting to qualify for healthcare coverage, they’re either uninsured or paying premiums out of pocket, and neither of these scenarios is bound to give your new hire the warm and fuzzies when thinking about you.
  • Toothless retirement plans. A 401k or 403b without even a teensy weenie match and (see above) a long waiting period to boot? Come on. Maybe you have no money to fund an employer contribution, but what’s your excuse for not providing your new hires with any tax deferment opportunities? I’ll be honest. This policy of yours is a bit disgraceful.
  • No onboarding process. Everyone wants a new hire who can “hit the ground running” (cliché be darned), but that desire shouldn’t preclude an onboarding process. At the very least, show your new employee where to get a writing pad, a pen, and maybe a stapler. Don’t make him struggle for every little thing he needs to do his job from the get go.
  • No welcome lunch. Yes, I’m serious. If you invite the employee to lunch and them make him pay, he will never forgive you. Never.
  • Any policy that demonstrates a hesitation to invest in the new employee. We get it. You’re trying to eliminate some work that’ll have to be undone if the new hire doesn’t pass the obligatory probation period (one company I know of won’t even offer direct deposit until this period has passed!), while making it clear that you value long tenure. But keep this is mind: your new hire most likely isn’t so dense that he can’t figure out what you’re doing. So ask yourself this question—if you’re blatantly unwilling to invest in him, can you really be surprised when he later decides he’d rather not invest in you?

The bottom line

When a new employee starts and right away feels less than welcomed by your organization, that’s a bad thing.

The time for regrets, “what ifs,” and “oh darns” may come many months or many years later, but if nothing else, your new employee should glide through the honeymoon phase of the relationship feeling rather satisfied about his decision to come and work for you.

Listen, it’s one thing if the first few months of a new hire’s tenure convinces you that a hiring mistake has been made. It happens.

But it’s another when your policies and procedures drive good workers to start seeking employment elsewhere before their desk chair has been properly warmed, even.

And before you say “Well, we only want people who want to be here because they identify with our mission, not because of the (benefits/culture/policies, etc), let me stop you right there.

Because that’s all fine and good. But “testing” your employees’ motivations by failing to address your faulty policies is …. well, it’s not very efficient.

So to recap (kind of). Here’s how not to turn off your brand new employee within the first 60 days of hire.

  • Be sure and provide at least a basic orientation. Forget key players for the moment, where are the bathrooms? How can the new hire stock his desk? What’s the procedure for sending snail mail? (Okay, I’m being a little facetious, but you get the point.)
  • Hook ‘em where you can hook ‘em. Without giving away the kitchen sink, what benefits can you provide right away that will cause your new employee to bond with her great new employer?
  • Don’t be afraid to invest. Pay for training, continuing education, and professional memberships that benefit your business and show the new employee that you’re glad he’s here and hope he’ll be around for a long time.

Oh, and one more thing… don’t make him pay for his welcome lunch. Ever.

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