Day One – A crucial part of employee retention

By Maria Forbes
June 13, 2022

Being new at anything is difficult for a period. New team members try to get their bearings and begin to feel like a resident member of the company. This month a newcomer provided a critical reminder of the one factor which significantly influences the first week on the job. Why is this important to leaders?  Employers have to consider a new internal reset for retaining people. Navigating a new set of employee viewpoints for a preferred work relationship is not sufficient if only in conversation. Your chances of retaining people in today’s fight for talent increases when you connect them on day one of your new relationship.

“Day one” provokes a blend of emotions. There is anticipation of interactions with a new team, even though you may have met some of them during the selection process.  A planned and structured agenda for key introductions and process training that includes specific outcomes will increase the engagement of new team members.

There are feelings of excitement.  New members will set out to make a personal contribution to organizational goals. On the first day at a new job, most newcomers expect a positive experience. They will consider how their new peers work individually and collaboratively as they navigate their first week. They look forward to an agenda for learning the details of their new role.

Margaret is a strategic communications professional. She has been looking forward to starting a new position at a top firm in her industry. She felt the usual emotions going into “day one” but her experience caused her to take pause.  At the end of day one, Margaret wondered how this well-established corporate team missed an important set up of their new relationship. Instead of a planned introduction to her team and her role, she was left to make introductions around the office and determine how to fill her time for an entire week before initial training was scheduled. What tasks was she to prioritize? Where was her team on day one? Would she be part of the business culture? What would help her to acclimate emotionally and professionally?

While many companies include some onboarding steps, the definition of this critical process varies dramatically. For small businesses, onboarding is a primary strategy for attracting and keeping top performers. This is one thing that will make a positive first impression and ensure that your initial working relationship phase will have a strong start.  Onboarding lays the groundwork for a lasting professional affiliation.  Making a new team member want to stay is difficult when an onboarding plan is missing. Three essential factors will ensure your new team member will decide to stay a while.

  1. Have an onboarding plan ready on day one. Do not skip this step; take the time to generate a plan that includes priorities for the initial 90-day period. You don’t have to iron out all the details, and the agenda can be edited in advance of each 30-day period. Your onboarding plan should include an illustration of role priorities for the initial period and for the long-term evolution of the role. Commit to giving ample thought to the experience of the early working phase as a set up for a long-term association.
  2. Expectations and priorities must include who and what. Depending on the level of your new team member, you want to give him or her the right framework for a productive first day, first week. Day one should include who they will have a regular interface with, and what they will achieve together. Your new team member will have the insight and direction to determine their priorities.
  3. A timeline is critical. Everyone wants to know what is expected of their time and energy in a new role. Priorities and expectations are in focus, now you should coordinate these within two to three identifiable periods of time. With an illustration of priorities and timelines, a new team member can easily determine how to spend time and energy during each specified period. Now the execution of the role during the initial period will occur with optimum productivity and performance can be reviewed at the completion of each specified period.

A first impression is made at the time of candidate selection. A mutual agreement to work together is confirmed at hiring, and a new team member’s transition into a lasting affiliation starts on day one. Do not skip this step, your new team member will thank you!

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