December 5, 2022

Small Business Advice

New Employees

Jerry Osteryoung | 10/15/2007

The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.
— Abraham Lincoln

Bringing new workers into a business is so critical. Studies have shown that 40 percent of all new hires leave before the end of six months. Given all of the money that most firms spend on new employees, it is absolutely critical that the recruiting and initial work period process be planned and carefully thought out.

Most new workers leave because they discover that their expectations just do not match the actual work. To avoid this discrepancy, applicants must completely understand what the job entails. During the recruiting process, employers should honestly explain the job, and not just tell applicants to read the job description and the employee manual. Both the good and the bad, as well as all the nuances of each job must be explained. If the job requires the new employee to empty the trash, then this must be explained. In addition, opportunities for advancement must be spelled out.

While many HR departments handle the initial orientation, each and every manager is responsible for ensuring that the HR department is giving accurate information about the job. On several occasions, I have witnessed the HR department give completely inaccurate information about certain sections of the business. This is not to say that the HR department is doing anything wrong. They just do not have a complete set of knowledge about each part of the business.

Keeping workers engaged is key to keeping your staff excited about work, particularly with new employees. In order to do so, you must adjust your management style to fit the needs of the employee. For instance, to keep Gen Xers (those born after 1979) engaged, you cannot tell them step-by-step how to do the job. Once they have an understanding of the work environment, Gen Xers function best when given only an objective and limited guidance.

While communications are key for all workers, it is even more critical for new workers. As a manager, you must be able to determine how an employee is doing with respect to their job expectations and satisfaction. Just glibly saying, “How are you doing?” is not going to cut it. You really need to sit down with each new worker every two weeks and ask them critical questions like, “What do you really like about the job and where could we make improvements?” Questions like this help you assess the satisfaction of each new hire.

Unaddressed problems just get worse, so if you sense that a new worker is not pleased or is not working out, the sooner you talk to him or her, the better. Sometimes all it takes to improve a new employee’s job satisfaction is a small tweak here or there. For instance, if a new employee is feeling unappreciated or is not clear on job expectations, a few minor adjustments can easily correct the problem. The point is that new workers should be monitored in order to make sure that they feel appreciated.

With labor becoming more and more difficult to find, you must go out of your way to ensure that you retain your workforce — assuming, of course, that they are what you need. Now go out and make sure that you have a process in place to ensure that each new worker feels great about his or her new job.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at jostery@comcast.net or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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