During Multifamily Insiders’ most recent Webinar Wednesday virtual conferences, Kara Rice, chief communications officer with Swift Bunny, led the event called “First Week Fails: Mistakes Managers Make When Welcoming a New Team Member.”
The webinar discussed effective methods that hiring managers can use to ensure that new hires have a rewarding experience when starting a new position. Rice noted that an employee’s first day at their new job can be chaotic and uncomfortable.
“Most newly hired employees start out full of optimism. They have stars in their eyes thinking about how great their new job is going to be,” she said.
Create a Good “First Day Feeling”
A new hire who completes their first few days can wind up wondering if they made the right decision to join the company. Rice advised managers to focus on what she termed the “first day feeling.”
“Think about what happens at the end of the very first workday when your new hire goes home and their loved one asks them ‘How was your day?’ What is their answer to that question going to be? You want it to be ‘this place really seems great’ or ‘this work seems really interesting, and I feel like I can add value here,’” Rice said.
Creating a positive first day feeling in a new hire will build an emotional connection with the work and help them feel like they fit so they will stick around. Rice pointed out that, according to Gallup, one-third of all new hires will not even last 90 days at their new job. Glass Door found that a strong onboarding process can improve productivity in new hires by 70 percent and improve retention by 82 percent.
According to Entrepreneur, it takes an average of 68 days to fill a vacant position. The Society of Human Resource Management determined that replacing a team member can cost 50 percent to 200 percent of their salary.
“That’s including all the related expenses for hiring, recruiting and training. This is a really big impact on your bottom line,” Rice said.
Avoiding Seven Common Mistakes
The webinar uncovered seven mistakes that hiring managers make with new employees and offered suggestions on how to avoid those errors. Rice said the first miscalculation supervisors make is underestimating the importance of the onboarding experience. Many do not pay enough attention to kicking things off for a new employee with a very strong start.
She thought it was ironic that residential property management firms spend a great deal of time, energy and money to make a fantastic first impression for their prospects and residents but do not expend the same effort for a new employee.
“We need to lean on those same skills that we employ in wowing our resident customers to wow our new hires who are indeed internal customers,” she said.
Another mistake supervisors can make is not staying in contact with newly hired employees once they accept a job offer. The period between when a candidate accepts the job and when they start can be nerve-wracking for them. Rice observed that new hires may have received other job offers, making it risky for managers to go radio silent before they start.
“You don’t want them to slip right through your fingers before day one happens,” she said.
The individual may have many questions, such as what should they wear to the office or where can they park, or do they need to bring their own tools? They may prefer not to bother you to avoid appearing as annoying before they even start their new job. Rice suggested this is the perfect time for managers to involve other team members to connect a new employee with their future coworkers and build camaraderie with them.
A third mistake supervisors can make is not being ready for an individual starting their new job. Swift Bunny surveyed newly hired employees of property management organizations and found that being unprepared was more the norm than the exception. Rice detailed that 45 percent stated their first week was disorganized, 29 percent responded that technology was not set up for them, 25 percent were not shown how to use the phone, voicemail or email systems and 36 percent were not given enough time to complete their training.
“All of this stuff leads to that new hire feeling like they were not ready for me here and this place is kind of chaotic. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?,” she said.
Supervisors should also be thoughtful about when to start new employees, as they know rhythms of the office and what might be the busiest or slowest times for the business. Rice advised managers to think about the appropriate day and time to start a new hire to ensure they have enough time to spend with the individual.
They should also have the individual’s workspace, technology, passwords and logins ready for them to use. All too often, an employee shows up for their first day and no one knows where they should sit, or the new employee must clear out the last person’s junk from their desk. Rice pointed out this is an excellent time to loop in existing team members who can take on the responsibility of welcoming a new team member.
The fourth mistake that supervisors can make is believing they can improvise a good experience for a new hire when they start. It is crucial for hiring managers to think ahead and plan for the new employee by having clearly outlined training objectives. If the new hire is going to shadow an existing, experienced employee, supervisors must choose the right person to be the leader in that relationship.
“Don’t just pawn your new hire off on any warm body to show them the ropes. You must be thoughtful about it,” Rice said.
She liked the idea of tag team training, where several existing team members are enlisted to introduce the new employee to different aspects of their work. This connects the new hire with more people in the organization and divides up the burden so no one person must shoulder the responsibility for training.
Rice advised managers not to overlook how important it is to socialize the new hire with everybody on their team. The coworkers that a new employee interacts with daily can make or break their experience on the job. Supervisors should help individuals build relationships with their new colleagues.
Managers must ensure that everyone on the team is on board with creating a strong onboarding process for a new staff member. At a time when turnover has been very high, supervisors need to ensure existing team members do not undermine their efforts with negative comments.
Burying new hires in paperwork to keep them occupied or sitting them in front of a computer to conduct e-learning are two more mistakes that supervisors can make.
“You want to get that new hire involved in the actual work that you hired them to do. This is how you make them feel they made a good choice about accepting this position with you,” Rice said.
The final common mistake that managers can make is short-term thinking. The individual is still a new hire at the end of their first day. The onboarding process is not just going to take eight hours.
“Onboarding is going to take days, weeks or even months. You want to think through that process. As time goes on, it’s going to be a less time-intensive activity for you but there are still steps you want to take,” she added.