Employee's 1st 30 Days...
It's Now or Never.
This economic recession has had one silver lining; we
can certainly find good employees to hire. Unfortunately, with
business the way it is, we don’t need them.
True, in our business, we’ll always have some
turnover. Maybe a bit less now with this economy but they still
leave for a multitude of reasons and with every departure, our
bottom-line takes a hit. Depending on which source you read, the hit
we take is estimated at somewhere between $2,500 and $5,000 per
terminated employee. More for full-timers and managers, less for
part-timers and temporaries.
In any case, the economic impact of turnover on our
profitability is significant…not to mention the customer relations
hit we take when a trained staff member is replaced by a ‘rookie.’
When the economy makes a complete recovery, we will again be
aggressively competing for ‘bodies’ like we were only a few short
years ago, and the turnover cost of those precious employees will,
once again, approach ridiculous.
This column is dedicated to improving your
profitability by illustrating the importance of nurturing new
recruits during their first 30 days. Why the first 30 days? Because
that’s when the new relationship is so vulnerable and because over
30% of all terminations happen in the first 30 days. Check it out
for yourself. How many employee terminations did you process last
year? How many occurred in the employee’s first 30 days? This is a
research and mathematical exercise worth performing. If we knew
these numbers, we could use them as a benchmark and a target for the
next 12 months.
For example, what if we discovered we lost 75 people
last year, 23 of them during their first 30 days. With the ideas in
this article and a target of reducing the 23 terminations let’s say
down to 13, we could realize a $30,000 to $50,000 annual savings for
Before showcasing the ideas that could be used to
reduce employee turnover during the first 30 days, let’s analyze why
so much turnover occurs in the first place. Is it typically the
recruit who makes the bad job selection decision or is it your
organization’s failure? Since it’s not possible to truly understand
the analytic process used by each potential candidate, let’s look
introspectively at what I see are the two predominant causes.
The main cause is a prevalent, self-fulfilling
prophecy that, “Since no one really likes/wants to work at
retail, they’ll probably be leaving soon after they start anyway.
Why then, spend the time/money on an elaborate orientation program?
Let them prove they’re committed to us first. If they stay on past a
few months, then I’ll invest some time in orientation and training.”
It is my belief that since we are the leaders by
definition, we should take the lead and demonstrate a commitment to
the success of the new recruit beginning on or before day one. The
acronym, G.I.G.O., applies here. When it comes to new employee
orientation, a Garbage orientation going In, results in a Garbage
relationship and a more than likely terminated employee going Out.
The second cause is that retailers are always so busy
fire fighting, that they typically don’t take the time to focus on
anything that’s not “on fire.” Once the vacancy is filled, the
fire’s out and management typically turns their back on the new
recruit and go looking for the next “fire.”
There are at least three other operational foibles in
our stores that contribute to higher turnover in the first 30 days
We oftentimes have less than the ideal employee
greet the employee on the first day. This could result in a less
than desirable first impression.
The plan for the employee’s first day is
oftentimes unstructured, unimaginative, and un-motivating.
The employee typically leaves his/her first shift
feeling exhausted, confused, frustrated, inadequate, and/or
alone. There is usually no ‘exit interview’ done on the first
Warning: Do not proceed with this article
without first admitting to and/or dealing with the above five issues
affecting new employee turnover. It makes no sense to try to fill
the proverbial pail with water (hire new folks) that has numerous
holes (orientation glitches) in it.
Here is an array of 24 best practices to bolster your
employee orientation process. There are eight best practices for the
employee’s first day. Eight within the first week and eight to be
done sometime before the end of the first month. How well your
company/store executes your orientation now should dictate the
number of ideas you adopt. I would argue that all 24 are reasonable,
affordable and effective and that there is no reason not to
incorporate all those you are currently not using.
The Newbie’s 1st Day
Set your phone or watch alarm 5 minutes before the
new recruit’s (Newbie) scheduled arrival. Prepare yourself for a
warm and enthusiastic greeting. Nothing is more awkward than to
approach a group of strangers and having no one step forward to
Never schedule a Newbie to start on the store
manager’s day off. (#2) Theoretically, the store manager is THE role
model and the one who knows the store, its people and procedures the
best. Who better then to make the best, first impression? Also, try
not to start a Newbie after Wednesday. The added pressure of the
weekend business might just send some good Newbies over the edge.
Next, the store manager should begin a 30 minute tour
of the store after showing the Newbie how to “clock in.” The tour
should begin in the parking lot and last for 30 minutes. (#3)
After seeing the store and introducing the Newbie to
some friendly faces, take him/her into the office for a 30 minute
conversation about your Top 10 Expectations and Top 10 Promises.
(#4) Introduce the Newbie to the glossary of business terms (#5) we
use each day. Landing in a foreign country that doesn’t speak your
language can be unnerving and extremely awkward. After introducing
the Newbie to his/her department manager, have the Newbie’s ‘Buddy,’
(an employee assigned to shadow the Newbie for the first 30 days),
nearby to make the appropriate introductions. (#6)
The ‘Buddy’ can assist the Newbie in clipping on his
new temporary name tag that, in addition to the Newbie’s name, has
bold lettering that reads, “I’m New and I’m Trying My Best. Thanks.”
At the end of the 1st day, invite the Newbie back into the store
manager’s office for a 10 minute ‘debriefing.’ (#8) “What was the
most surprising experience you had today?” “Have you made any new
friends today?” A few questions like these will help you determine
whether the ‘Newbie’ will show up for the next scheduled shift.
Watch his/her facial reactions. Listen to their tone of voice. There
will be clues to their first impression of you and your operation.
Keep talking if you detect any sign of dissatisfaction. This
demonstration of your sincere interest in their first day may be all
it takes to cement the relationship for at least the first week.
The Newbie’s First Week
A meaningful Orientation Program consists of a
minimum commitment of 20 hours of activities (#9) all designed to
ease the Newbie into the operations. During the first week on the
job, store employees are becoming acquainted with the Newbie by the
photo and bio sheet posted on the employee bulletin board (#10).
The store manager is encouraged to announce the
hiring of the Newbie over the intercom with the store announcements
broadcasted each morning at 9:00 am (#11).
The store manager might also invite the Newbie into the weekly
department manager meeting for 5 minutes to be personally and
individually introduced to the management team. (#12)
The Newbie will become better acclimated to the store
by playing a great orientation game called the Scavenger Hunt. (#13)
Here, the Newbie has a list of 25 hard-to-find items on a sheet of
paper and is timed as he tries to locate them. He also has a
“Passport” in his pocket that looks like a real passport with photos
of 16-20 managers and veteran employees and a pertinent question
under each photo. Such as, “What is the difference between Prime and
Choice beef?” Or, “How many loaves of bread do we make, on average,
each week?” The Passport Program acquaints the Newbie to the key
people in the store and educates them in the process. At the end of
the week (or month), the Newbie turns in the completed Passport for
a free lunch coupon. (#14)
At the end of the first week, the Newbie is offered a
“Goodie Bag” (#15) filled with five or six signature and private
label products. Shortly thereafter, on payday the store manager, and
only the store manager, personally hands the Newbie his/her FIRST
paycheck with a warm, “Thanks for joining our team. We’re proud to
have you on board.” (#16)
During the 1st Month
A best practice to demonstrate sincere and personal
interest in the Newbie is to call him/her after the 2nd or 3rd week
at home, on a day off, between 7 pm and 9 pm. (#17) A two minute
conversation about their feelings for the job will go a long way to
form a stronger bond between the Newbie, his/her family, and the
Another ‘bonding’ suggestion would be to introduce
the Newbie to the regional or district manager when they pay a visit
to the store. (#18) The Newbie receives a dose of respect and
attention and the company executive gets to make a quick assessment
on the quality of the store manager’s new recruits.
During the last week of the 30 day orientation, the
store manager could invite the ‘Buddy’ in for a quick meeting with
the ‘Newbie’ to discuss their progress together. (#19) This way, the
‘Buddy’ gets some credit/recognition for the Newbie’s development
and the Newbie gets to express his/her concerns about the job going
The New Employee Orientation Meeting (NEOM) held on
the last Saturday for four hours every month, is the final act of a
complete Orientation Program. (#20) During this meeting, the Newbies
temporary nametag is replaced with an official , permanent one.
(#21) After the loss prevention and human resource folks do their
presentations and the store manager makes some final inspirational
remarks, the Newbie is:
Given the date of his/her 90 day review. (#22)
Assigned to a store committee, (i.e. newsletter,
safety, best place to work, picnic, etc.) (#23)
Then, asked to complete a confidential, 30-day
orientation questionnaire which is returned to the main office.
There you have it. Twenty-four best practices to
revitalize a moribund orientation program or to fine-tune an already
successful one. The 24 ideas/suggestions might appear attractive to
you because they look so easy and make so much sense. But don’t
underestimate their ability to contribute to your bottom line as
As an industry, we must be more conscientious about
how we introduce new folks into our organizations. Instead of
bringing them in and immediately placing them “on probation” for 30
days, let’s embrace a new employee orientation paradigm that will
ultimately yield a more cohesive team, superior customer relations,
and an improved bottom line.
Harold Lloyd was the President and C.E.O. of a 14-unit retail
organization for 10 years. The company consisted of 10 convenience
stores with gasoline, two combo supermarket/discount stores, one
conventional supermarket, and one deep discount health and beauty
aid supermarket. His team of 1000 associates were market leaders.
They were innovative and dedicated to superior customer relations.
Copyright © 2012 Harold Lloyd. All Rights Reserved.
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