Invest in the new hire

Nora Akins

Onboarding is a human resource process that introduces new employees to the company and their positions. A well-structured onboarding program reduces turnover and gets employees to be productive faster.

Fredrick Herzberg’s motivation theory is often referred to as the Two-Factor Theory. The two factors are hygiene and motivation. Hygiene factors include working conditions, salary, security, quality of supervision and policies. Motivation factors include achievement, recognition of achievement, advancement and growth. Herzberg created a matrix of hygiene and motivation. Ideally a company rates highly in both areas resulting in highly motivated employees with few complaints.

So what does his theory and onboarding have in common? Hygiene factors are company-oriented and motivation factors are employee-oriented. Many times, an onboarding program is company-focused. The new hire spends one half day with Human Resources filling out paperwork and going over the handbook. A prepared work station for the new hire is a work condition. Teaching the new person to use the phones and software is company-focused. Even having the person learn their tasks and meet co-workers are hygiene factors. It’s not bad, it is just not enough. It is not motivational and it’s crammed into a period of just a few days or weeks.

How do you incorporate motivation factors? Draw a line between the purpose of the position and the purpose of the company. That is an immediate recognition of the position’s importance. Help the new person assimilate into company culture. Do things, maybe even fun things, that make the new person feel included. Assign the new hire to a team project. Give the person boss time, even with the big boss who can draw a picture of the company’s future while getting to know the new hire. Train supervisors to connect the dots, understand and speak the big picture. Have the supervisor initiate a conversation about where the new person wants their career to go — whether it is at your company or not. Have ongoing conversations about how to get there. That’s motivational!

Who said onboarding takes a week or 60 days? Recognize the new person needs time to absorb everything. Everything is new especially if your new hire is experienced. The experienced person needs to unlearn and re-learn. The supervisor and human resources should have frequent check-ins to quiz the employee to determine how much they have learned, see what the new person needs, make adjustments in training, start having stay interviews to find out if the company matches what they thought or were told. Be upfront about their performance and behavior in a supportive way. Do not wait and see if improvement magically happens. Clarify the position’s purpose and acknowledge their achievements.

Who has time for that? It is time-consuming. According to Bersin Deloitte, 90 percent of new hires decide whether to stay at the company within the first six months. It costs between 100 percent and 300 percent of a position’s salary to refill a position. It takes at least six months to be fully productive in a position and time to hire is increasing. The US Department of Labor reports employees who participate in a structured onboarding program become productive quicker and are 66 percent more likely to stay at the company for three or more years. The investment is impactful, respectful and time well-spent.

Nora T. Akins, of Strategic Management focuses on employer compliance and employee performance by providing management training and refining human resource systems; she can be reached at 873-1735 or

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