You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Whether you're meeting your future in-laws for the first time, or it's your first day at a new company, people will make an opinion of you based on this first encounter. Likewise, you will form an opinion about them — the new family as a whole, or the new company. I think it's a "love it or hate it" kind of thing; you either continue to develop the relationship, or simply think of how to part ways after that.
If you're a hiring or a training manager, you know that finding and retaining the best talent is not an easy task. You can't afford to make a bad first impression to a talented person who could bring great value to your company, or they'll be out the door in an instant. Even after signing a contract and assigning a security badge, you have plenty of work to do. That's the mere beginning of a long-term relationship.
Think of a new employee as a seed of a beautiful flower. You need to plant it, water it, offer it sunlight, check in every now and then, change the location if it doesn’t do well, add some fertilizer, use some bug spray, make sure the air isn’t too dry or too wet, the soil is the right type, and so on. Who said growing flowers was ever easy?
Anyway, you can’t just hire new people, assign tasks and then forget about them and expect great results. Some of them might rise over the expectations, but it's only a matter of time until they'll hit the door running. High employee turnover rates are never a sign of a healthy organization. Long-term employees need more that a long list of tasks, deadlines/targets and end-of-the-month reports.
Let me tell you a little personal story
My first job was in a corporation. I loved that place from my very first interview there. They had me waiting in the kitchen before the interview started, and that helped me get a glimpse into what was like to work there. I was just hooked by the other employees — a true mosaic of ages, social backgrounds and roles within the company; they looked like a big, united family, joking and laughing in their lunch break.
In the first day at the new place, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I had to process, but I've never been so excited about learning all those new things. I got a "company fellow" — an employee with some tenure there — to show me around the corporate environment, tell me about the company values and its structure, introduce me to colleagues in different departments, show me how to use all the software, and, of course, keep me in the loop about the upcoming parties.
The first day wasn't easy, and the following training days were even less than easy. But everywhere I turned to for the next few months, I got answers, feedback, and help. The company's on-boarding program was very well organized and gave me a great first impression about my new workplace. What's more, even after a few years there, I still kept a high opinion of it.
... To long-boarding...
New employees usually get a lot of attention from the HR and training departments. But can you say the same for those who've been around for a while, or those who just climbed up the executive ladder? Keeping all your employees motivated and interested in doing their jobs is the real part of the long-term relationship I mentioned.
Remember the flower? After you first see it bloom, you don’t just let it die. You need to keep taking care of it in order to see it bloom again and again. If you want your employees to thrive, you have to keep “feeding” and “watering” them.
Continuing my story, I had team meetings and one-on-one meetings with my colleagues and my managers on a regular basis: each week, each month, and any time I needed assistance, or an unexpected problem appeared. All these meeting helped me see the real progress I was making, how my role was impacting my team, and how my team's work impacted the company as a whole. Also, I was given enough opportunities to continuously improve my work.
Encourage all employees, and especially the ones with longer tenures in your company, to attend as many workshops, training programs, and relevant conferences. In order to have great results for a longer period of time, they need to be the best at what they do. They need to be able to keep up with their fields of activity and continuously learn at work.
Also, internal coaching programs and experience sharing programs will show these employees that you value their know-how and trust them to share it forward. This level of recognition can be more valuable to your company than their annual salaries combined.
... An LMS will have your back!
Interviews, selection processes, induction programs, safety regulations, job training, performance evaluation, more training, safety regulations updates... Who did what and who didn’t? It’s a lot for the HR and training departments to do and to keep track of. And I didn’t even mention paperwork.
Thank God for technology! You just need to find a great business LMS to help you manage the biggest part of the process and put to better use that otherwise wasted time.
Take all those induction planning, safety regulation, office conduct rules, new courses, business books, and put them in an LMS for a change. Everybody will have access to them, and keeping track of who is due and who already took a course will become a less of a headache. It’s a whole lot easier. Don’t pull people out of a big project because something got to VERSION X.7; let them use the platform to stay up-to-date in their own time and pace.
If you have a company with subsidiaries all over the country, then you know how hard and costly it can be to get people together to participate in a workshop. That doesn’t mean you should stop training your employees. Web conferencing and live webinars were invented for this, and can all happen through the same cloud-based LMS. Your employees still get to interact, actively participate and voice their opinions, even if they don’t sit next to each other in the same room. Shared experience is always better than the theoretical training.
Use technology to deal with numbers and statistics, and support your training and HR departments in designing the best long-boarding program ever.
Does your company offer a long-boarding program? What do you think about it?