Three Reasons Your New Employee’s First Year is Also Their Most Important

Having been the CEO of two human capital management software companies, I’ve always had a strong interest in improving the early experience for newly hired employees.As I see it, organizations and their newest hires are embarking upon what both parties hope will be a committed and long-lasting relationship. But far too often those prospects are dashed by a poor first year experience. The latest data confirms what I’ve always suspected: the first year of employment is the most meaningful period of an employee’s tenure in determining their overall productivity, depth of engagement, and long-term-success.

According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, founder of the “Peak-End Theory,” an employee’s level of engagement is largely impacted by their initial experience on the job. Unfortunately, far too many organizations miss the opportunity to positively affect the new employee’s initial experience, an oversight which has lasting repercussions.

Creating positive first year experiences can be challenging for organizations whose focus has traditionally been elsewhere. Challenging, but also achievable. All that’s required is a thoughtful approach to the integration process — and an awareness of why this initial period of the employee life cycle is so important.

Below are the three principal reasons a new hire’s first year at an organization is also their most critical:

1. Speed to Productivity

Its been proven over and over again that the holy grail of ROI is “speed to productivity”, particularly for revenue generating employees. In the book, Successful Onboarding, Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen emphasized time to productivity as one of the most important “business impacts” an effective onboarding and integration program must have. Today, over 60% of organizations fail to set clear milestones or productivity goals for their new employees, leaving many unsure of what “productive in their role” even looks like. The good news is more and more organizations are beginning to adopt new tools and technology to help their new employees reach maximum productivity and proficiency in record time.

2. Engagement

I have always held the belief that engagement must begin on day one. The data is clear: poor engagement costs companies billions of dollars every year in low productivity, poor work quality and unachieved sales quotas. As indicated in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, creating meaningful relationships at work is a vital component of a successful first year experience. The manager/employee relationship, in particular, is often overlooked. As managers become increasingly distracted and overworked, their relationships with their most recent hires are often the first casualties.

What’s so frustrating is how many managers fail to realize that just a little effort on their part will go a long way. The Gallup study revealed that 60% of Millennials want some level of interaction with their manager every day. In most cases this can be handled by a quick check-in, call or text if an in-person visit is not an option. The early engagement of your new employees has a direct impact on the speed with which they become proficient in their role, and later how successfully (or not) they are woven into the fabric of the company. New and existing employees need to be engaged early and often — with specific goals clearly defined to reap the maximum return for both the employee and the organization.

3. Retention

Just as “location” is the rallying cry in real estate, retention is the rallying cry for HR departments. And the evidence speaks loud and clear — a successful first year is the most predictive determinate of an employee’s long-term success. New employees that go through a structured integration program are 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years. Unfortunately, the opposite phenomenon is equally true as 87% of new employees are not fully committed to their new job during the first six months of employment, making a poor initial experience very difficult to overcome.

A Final Thought…

The benefits of a well-planned and executed strategy on employee productivity, engagement and retention are crystal clear. That said, in order for your organization to reap the full benefits of a fully engaged and productive employee, it’s essential that the employee also have a uniformunderstanding of the organization’s mission and vision. Alignment with mission is best accomplished early in an employee’s tenure. Did you know 57% of employees worldwide wouldn’t recommend their company as a good place to work? Don’t let your employees end up in this bucket. Employees who “buy-in” and find purpose in their work will not only produce more, but often become the company’s most enthusiastic brand ambassadors and devoted customers.

As our parents and grandparents taught us long ago, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. The same holds true for your organization, so don’t blow it with a poor integration program, or worse, no program at all. Organizations that foster deeper and more transparent relationships with their employees will invariably see their businesses perform better. They’ll also see new and existing employees be more productive more quickly, and ultimately stay longer. So put your focus on the first year and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards for years to come.

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Robert is the C.E.O. of Yoi Corp. Our advanced predictive analytics provide employees with the right support at the right time, while empowering managers with tools to transform average employees into high-performing contributors. Interested in learning how we help enterprises create exceptional experiences in the critical first year? Request a demo here.