How to see faster ROI from new people…


While increasing engagement, performance and reducing churn all in one hit.

So you’ve made it through the ‘agony’ of recruiting and finally found your perfect hire. They have the right skills and experience. Their attitude and personality fit culturally with your team. Your work is complete. Now you can relax, as your new superstar does amazing things for your business, eases your workload, and helps you to grow and reach your ambitions. Happy days, right?!

If only it was so easy.

Unfortunately, recruiting the right person – or people – is just the start of the journey. Now the hard work really begins.

Because despite all that time and effort put into hiring, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a one in five chance that your ‘perfect person’ will quit within 45 days, and a one in three chance that they’ll quit within six months. Shit! That’s a wake-up call if ever there was one.

The role of onboarding

A much-neglected part of recruitment, many employers think of onboarding as getting people set up with their computer, ensuring they’ve read the health and safety policy and showing them where the toilets are. But it can, and should, be so much more than that.

In fact, onboarding has power to revolutionise (not using this somewhat overused word lightly) employee retention, engagement and performance, with figures showing that two thirds (69%) of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Newbie ROI

Let’s think about it purely in monetary terms for a moment. How long does it take for you to see return on investment (ROI) on your new hire? Accounting for the money and time you spent recruiting, time developing training materials, lost productivity amongst existing team members, plus salary and benefits on top. Any ideas?

Optimistic estimates reckon it takes between six and nine months, while more conservative researchers say it could take up to two years for businesses to see ROI on new team members! And when you consider that most employees will be pushing for a pay rise after around a year, the financial impact on a young business is huge.

Onboarding ambitions

Done right, onboarding has the power to both decrease the time it takes to see Newbie ROI, while also increasing retention, ensuring you don’t need to go through the dreaded – and expensive – recruitment process all over again.

Plus, you should also see loads of indirect benefits including less ‘carrying’ of new team members, higher business performance and productivity, and lots of fantastic new employer brand ambassadors for your company. Winner winner chicken dinner.

So, what should onboarding really look AND FEEL like?

Rather than a checklist of boring process and paperwork, onboarding should involve a layered approach that’s aligned with your business goals and culture. Every business and individual will require a slightly different focus, however the following timeline is a good place to start:

1. Get the paperwork out of the way before day one

There’s no reason why you have to wait until day one to get all those paperwork and process bits ticked off. And doing it beforehand means you can focus on giving new hires the most inspiring first day possible.

Set up their email in advance, add them to the HRIS, share company policies and background about the business. It will help them to feel integrated in advance and avoid boring them with bureaucracy on their first day.

2. Build the excitement

You can also use the weeks before the start date to engage your new team member in more fun and exciting ways, for example, inviting them to social events, ‘town halls’ or ‘all hands’ meetings.

Another nice idea is to send them a care package a week before they start, with treats such as beer, wine, chocolates, and a ‘welcome’ card.

Also give them an idea of what they can expect on their first day, so they aren’t coming in completely blind. Do they need to think about bringing lunch or will somebody be taking them out? It all helps to ease those first day nerves.

3. Blow them away on day one

Make sure their desk is all ready for when they arrive, with everything they need including keycards, pens, notepads, personalised mug (!) Then before anything else, their manager should sit down with them and run through the most important information they need to know about the company and their role:

  • The Why. This is your vision, mission, strategy and company goals. Hopefully you’ve shared this previously but it’s important to go over it again. You cannot over communicate this stuff. Make sure the person is super clear.
  • The How. This is how the business and team works, the culture and values.
  • The What. Goals! What does success look like? What are you expecting them to achieve in their first 30, 60, 90 days, as well as what is expected in terms of behaviour and decision-making.
4. Knowledge building

The first week or two should be focused on spending time with as many teams and individuals as possible, to understand what they do, how they do it, and how it relates to their role.

Chances are they’ll be chomping at the bit to get stuck in, but hold them back during those initial few days, instead asking them to focus on understanding why things are done the way they are, so they can later put it into practice.

5. Planning

In week two, make sure they build a plan for the next one to three months, prioritising the tasks and activities that are most aligned to the business goals and targets. This enables them to put all that knowledge they learnt in week one into action.

6. Do they need any training?

The first couple of weeks are also the time to provide any training that your newbie needs, to ensure they’re armed with all the know-how to do the best job.

Certain skills gaps may have come to light during the recruitment and referencing process, in which case now is the time to start addressing those. Or you may have specific systems and processes that they need up-skilling in.

7. Time to shine

From week three onwards, let them get on with it!

As you’ve spent a couple of weeks of dedicated, focused time with them, they should feel more than ready to show you what they can do, while also knowing where to turn if they need help.

8. Managing performance

We’ll cover performance management in more detail in a later blog, however a final note is to say: start as you mean to go on.

Treat any performance issues the same as you would with an established employee (assuming you do feedback), praising them for things done right, as well as redirecting them if something didn’t go as well as it could have.

No special treatment because they’re new, and chances are they’ll welcome the frank feedback. It’s all part of setting them up for success.

Waiting until week three to get your newbie involved in ‘proper work’ might feel like an age when you’re running a fast-moving startup. But investing that time up front means your newbie will know where they’re going faster, and hopefully avoid any serious mistakes or issues along the way.

And most importantly, you’ll help achieve that all-important Newbie ROI faster than with the ‘plug and play’ approach, while also avoiding facing the dreaded recruitment process again anytime soon


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