All aboard! Induction is worth the investment

A new team member can feel like an injection of fresh air into a team. It starts off with the usual 'Who are they / What are they like / Will they fit' curiosity - and then (hopefully) you get to a point where they are up and running on their own, adding value and helping even newer new joiners find their way.

This place is what Michael D. Watkins calls the 'break-even point' in his book 'The First 90 Days' – in other words, the point where a new hire's outpoint equals their input. But how long does it take to get the new joiner to this point? And why is it so important?

This topic is top of mind for me now as I welcome a new person to my own team. Research by Recruitment Solutions reveals the next three months are critical; 47% of employee turnover occurs within the first 90 days of employment. Of those that left, 60% highlighted the onboarding programme as the most in need for improvement.

Effective onboarding is especially critical as I think about my recruitment. Generally speaking, a person is hired precisely because they know how to do the job they are interviewing for – a forklift driver can surely drive forklifts for any company – but in commercial areas the ability to effectively deliver results, and fast, can be accelerated by factors beyond just knowing 'their professional discipline'. A new starter who previously marketed software for a small start-up company with regional reach will surely need some time before successfully marketing a fast-moving consumer good for a huge company with global reach.

It appears not all companies agree; my new joiner let me know that her previous employer took a 'we let you in, now show us what you've got' sink or swim approach to onboarding. While many do learn how to swim quickly, it frustrates me to think of capable and competent people drowning simply because they were not set up for success.

Recruitment teams invest significant time and money to ensure they're bringing in the right talent. But just how successful can recruitment really be without retention - and just because a new joiner has signed the dotted line, why should a company feel the work is done, potentially wasting all that upfront investment? This is where a comprehensive onboarding programme is, in Brand Learning's opinion, time and effort well spent. Here is what I believe new people need to fully understand in order to thrive:

Company goals – as drivers of growth it's critical people are keenly in tune with the ambitions of the company. In other words, what does success look like and how is the role of their team perceived in driving the business forward?

Culture Orientation – Knowing "how we get things done around here" by understanding accepted styles of working, language and behaviours helps integration. What worked to engage business leaders at one company may not work at another.

Ways of working / processes – If every new team member did things their own way, only one word comes to mind: chaos! While it's great when people come from a wide range of backgrounds, they can thrive in a new company by applying what they know in a consistent way.

Deep understanding of the unique customer – It goes without saying that a customer-centred approach drives growth. Before making decisions everyone needs to invest time to truly get to know their new customer.

Clarity on how they will be measured – Be clear on the KPIs to steer your new joiner in the right direction and ensure they're prioritising their focus from the very start.

Often the arrival of a new team member heralds the perceived end of a resource shortage – the extra pair of hands is so needed that the newcomer is expected to be productive from day 1. Understand that the break-even point can't happen after a welcome coffee and an office tour; give it time, invest in a thoughtful onboarding programme and show your new colleague that they absolutely made the right choice to join your organisation. 


For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s HR capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on HR.

Join the conversation and share your opinions on Twitter or LinkedIn, where you’ll find our latest content as well as some of our favourite thought-pieces from other influencers.