So you are taking on a new employee. As a hiring manager, you have invested a lot. You curtailed other priorities to spend time and energy on the recruitment and selection process. Your time is money to your business, so make your investment in hiring count by extending it into the new hire’s first days, weeks and months on the job to ensure he or she will be successful and productive.
After the job offer has been accepted and before your new hire comes on board, stay in touch with the employee. Check in frequently and ask if there are any questions. Make sure he or she has all the information needed to be prepared for the first day. Not only will this help make the new hire feel valued, but it will deter any competing interest from other employers.
On the first day, the most important thing to remember is that your new hire is excited about the new job—so be excited about your new hire. Make the person feel expected and welcome by having a prepared workspace ready and business cards, if possible. The goal is to show your new hire that you are as excited about him or her joining your company as he or she is about being there.
In addition, plan to cover the formal aspects of a new employee’s first day on the job:
- Provide a copy of the employee handbook and obtain acknowledgment that the handbook has been read and understood.
- Collect all payroll and benefit information.
- Highlight specific policies and procedures that are important on the job.
- Discuss appropriate workplace safety and health topics.
- Provide training on equipment and processes and procedures.
- Cover any position-related topics such as supervisory responsibility, duties and responsibilities and expectations of the new hire.
But don’t stop there—the informal aspects of the job are just as critical. Take time to talk about the unique aspects of your company’s culture. For example, how important is the matter of being on time? Are there unwritten rules about meeting attendance, workplace attire and voicing opinions? And don’t forget to cover smartphone usage and social media access while at work. Talk about it!
A successful first week is clearly the hiring manager’s responsibility, so plan for it as you would any other important business activity. Nothing should be more important to your schedule during that week than being accessible and carving out time each day to meet with your new hire.
Create a schedule for him or her for the first few weeks including what meetings to attend, what materials to read, and with whom the new hire should meet and speak. Arrange those meetings yourself in advance. Cover topics such as the business cycle, important initiatives, key client projects, management styles and communication preferences of key people, how meetings are conducted (whether formal with agendas or informal), and where and when to take ideas and concerns. Also, have someone provide basic training on technology (software and tools) used on the job.
If the new employee has supervisory responsibilities, it is especially important for you, in advance of the start date, to meet with the team, present the new supervisor’s background, and let them know why this person was selected and what to expect. This will address the team’s unease during the transition and also will allow the new supervisor to move into high gear. High gear is good, but not before you are assured the new hire understands your expectations, the company and its operating culture.
Be sure to cover your performance expectations, and particularly how goals and performance assessments are conducted. Arrange for any essential training and ensure there is awareness of company and department goals.
Finally, make sure you schedule periodic check-ins during the weeks and months that follow. Studies show that 22 percent of employees quit their jobs within the first 45 days, which is not really surprising—the learning curve for any position is typically longer than expected. If your new hire feels supported in the first six months, you will improve the likelihood that he or she will stay engaged and committed.
By seeing the new employee as a business investment, your dedication of time and attention will ensure an optimal return, enhancing him or her to more quickly get up to speed and deliver value to the company.
Sallie Biitner is a contributor for Affinity HR Group, LLC, PPAI’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as PPAI and their member companies. www.affinityHRgroup.com
>>Email Affinity HR Group at contact@affinityHRgroup.com for a free copy of an employee development template to help managers structure and communicate the new employee’s learning objectives and provide a structure for ongoing feedback during the first few weeks and months on the job.
>>Q&A With Sallie Biittner
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Q: We are considering hiring some teenagers to help us over the summer. Are there regulations specific to child labor that we need to know about?
Yes, laws regulating the employment of children exist at both the state and federal levels. As always, the federal requirements represent the minimum requirements and states can add additional limitations. According to federal law,
- Children under 12 may not be employed
- Children between 12 and 16 may be employed in allowed occupations during limited hours within the school year.
- Children between 16 and 18 may be employed for unlimited hours in non-hazardous occupations.
There are many exceptions to these rules, including employment by parents. To be safe, check with your state department of labor to make sure you are compliant with all relevant laws.
Q: The fall semester break will be coming up later this year and we would like to hire some interns to work with us during that busy period. Is there anything special about unpaid internships that we should know about? We figure the work experience is valuable to them and they seem to agree.
Unpaid internships are closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor. For it to be a “bona fide internship,” your internship must meet the following requirements:
- The internship must provide training similar to what would be given to the student in an educational environment.
- The internship experience must be designed for the benefit of the intern (not the employer).
- The intern cannot displace regular employees, but must work under close supervision of existing staff.
- The employer that provides the training can derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.
- The employer and the intern must understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If your internship does not meet these requirements, your interns should be paid at least minimum wage for their work.