Are you experiencing high turnover within 90 days of hire?

Is the productivity and sense of loyalty from your new hires what it should be?

Are your new hires glad they made the decision to work for you?

You may not be welcoming your new employees effectively… 

In last month’s blog we discussed the first in a series of building a loyal workforce:  Hiring Right.  So, now that you’ve hired them, how do you make sure that your new hire experiences the best first day, the best first month, and the best first year?  Read on as I share the top four secrets successful companies use to ensure that employee loyalty is present from day one.  When is an employee the most excited to be at your company?  The answer should be on day one!  In the four secrets below, you will discover how to keep that new hire excitement in your employees and turn it into real long-term loyalty.  Let’s talk about Onboarding. 

1)    Make them feel part of the “family” before they show up:  You’ve made the job offer and they’ve accepted.  Now, the loyalty work begins.  Make them feel special. Send a congratulatory card to their home from you and the team.  Email them with messages about the company, team, and other aspects of their new career. Send a company video to their homes.  Send goodie bags of company material.  In this way not only do you communicate your excitement to the future employee, now you are involving their families. After all, the families are the ones who have to tolerate their loved one working long hours, traveling, and dividing their focus between home and office.  So include them from the start too.  And, don’t make the mistake of thinking electronic communication is enough…take the time to add that old-fashioned personal touch and you will differentiate yourself from your competitors. At Southwest Airlines we once hired an astronaut.  We sent a team of pilots to his home in Houston to welcome him aboard.  That pilot never forgot his memorable welcome and Southwest received some great media coverage to boot!

2)    Make their first day memorable:  If you’re a parent, compare this technique to preparing for a newborn.  As you bring the baby home from the hospital you don’t start thinking, “I’ve got to buy a crib, baby clothes, etc.”  You have most likely been preparing for months, so by the time you walk into your home your newborn has everything they need.  Your new employee should be no different.  You’ve gone to a lot of time and effort to find and hire them, now show them that you’re glad they are here.  Decorate their cube/office with a welcome sign.  Fill a new trash bin with all their needed office supplies and have it sitting on their desk.  Take them to lunch.  Introduce them to their coworkers.  As I mention in my book Lessons in Loyalty, one of my most memorable “first days” was when I showed up to be a facilitator at the University for People, and the entire department was on hand to cook me a pancake breakfast!  I never forgot it.  A friend of mine started a new job last month.  She came home excited after her first day because her nameplate was already on her door. No big deal, right?  Well to her it was, especially since she had a difficult last name to spell and they got it right.  At Southwest Airlines the VP of IT was adamant that each new team member experience a memorable first day.  If, later, when the VP asked the new hire about their first day and it was nothing special, the manager of that department had to wear a bunny suit for a full day.  It was a great way to ensure the manager didn’t forget the importance of that first day. It usually only took one day of wearing the bunny suit to ensure they got it right with the next new hire! 

3)    New Hire Orientation…it’s not just for the big guys: Large companies like Southwest Airlines typically have weekly orientation sessions where new hires attend a fun-filled day-long session to learn about the company, benefits and meet each other.  I work with small companies who don’t hire large numbers of employees, therefore don’t see the need for a formal New Hire Orientation.  Don’t make that mistake.  If you hire one employee, you need a new hire orientation process. You want that employee to start feeling like an “owner” from the start.  This does not mean it needs to take a lot of your time nor cost a lot of money.  Put yourself in the new employee’s shoes.   What would you want and need to know to make sure you feel comfortable, included and a part of the company?  Introduction to benefits, values and organizational structure, a history of the company, and a high level introduction to the financial aspects are usually a good place to start.  Introduce a “buddy life line.”  Assign a star employee to guide them through this process.  This method honors the star employee while giving the new hire the support they need.   

4)    Keep the new hire on fire: After step three, many companies think the welcoming of the new hire is done. Successful organizations, however, know the road to building a long-term loyal team member is just beginning.  They have things in place for month one, month six, and up to month twelve. They know that to keep that new hire “on fire” they cannot stop their efforts after week one.  I have implemented programs that include selecting random new hires every quarter and either hosting a luncheon for the new hires or inviting them to lunch.  The objective of the lunch is to ask the new hire for feedback about the company.  “Are we the company you hired on to work for?”   “Are there things we could improve?  Would you recommend your friend/family member for a job here?”  Some companies ensure they have “days in the field,” where the new hire gets to experience the jobs their “internal” customers perform.  Others put new hires on committees, to ensure they get the newer employees’ viewpoints.  What successful organizations realize is that to keep that new hire spirit alive, they must touch base with the new hire monthly, at least for the first six months. 

So, don’t just conduct “exit interviews” to determine why your new hires are leaving. It’s way too late by that time.   Be proactive and keep your new hire excited.  Implement these secrets from organizations whose turnover is among the lowest in their industry and treat your new hires like customers.  The loyalty you build in them will be mirrored in great teamwork, great customer service and a much better bottom line. 

In our next blog post, we will discuss the four secrets “loyalty-centric leaders” know that create loyal teams. 

Until next time,

Loyally yours…The Loyalty Lady 

Loyaltize Your Organization…a unique workshop designed to give participants the blueprint for creating a loyal culture…visit our website www.lessonsinloyalty.com for more information.

Are you experiencing high turnover?

Is your productivity what it should be?

Do you suffer from communication breakdowns?

You may not be hiring the right people…

In a world where there is little competitive advantage in price, product and process, companies who are on the cutting edge utilize the other “P”, their People. By focusing on their People and using proven methods to earn and keep the loyalty of their employees, these companies have discovered that they are able to stay ahead of their competition, regardless of the business. This blog, the first in a series of “Loyalty Builders,” outlines the methods successful companies like Southwest Airlines use to build loyal employee cultures.

It starts with hiring.  Hire for attitude, train for skill.  What does it really mean?  When a job needs to be filled quickly, most people will be tempted to put a “warm body” in the position to eliminate the strain of the extra work on the rest of the team. This more often than not results in a bad hire, making your problem worse.

During my 15 years with Southwest Airlines, we lived by the concept of “hire for attitude, train for skill.”  As a result, we had an excellent source of prequalified candidates. Like Southwest Airlines, many successful companies know that building a culture of loyalty stems from the following four hiring considerations:

1) What kind of employee are you looking for?    Start by looking at your company’s mission statement (if you don’t have one, write one).  For example, successful customer service companies look for people who have a good sense of humor.  They may also look for people who take others’ needs into account before their own.  Think about why you would want those traits.  For example, if you hire someone who is other-oriented, they may be more apt to put themselves in the customer’s shoes or be better team players.  If you hire someone who possesses a good sense of humor, they may be more adept at handling stressful situations or creating a more team-friendly environment. To determine what kind of traits you are looking for in your organization, begin by reviewing your company’s mission statement and values.

2) Where do you find employees that fit your culture? Target your employment ads to appeal to the type of person you want to attract.   Want someone with a good sense of humor?  Make your ad humorous.  Want someone with a caring attitude?  Show that on your ad.  Don’t overlook one of the most important sourcing channels – your own employees.  Who better than they know what traits you need?  Also, take some time to think about what people outside your organization think about your company as an employer.  What “branding” image exists about your company?  Walk into a grocery store or around your community with your company uniform and see if anyone makes a comment.  Ask people what they think of your company then be prepared to act on what you hear.  With a good employer-branding image, your recruiting process will be well on its way.  And, by acting on what you hear, it gives you the opportunity to make some changes if necessary.

3) What questions should you ask in the interview?  Your interview process should include the Human Resources department (if you have one), someone from the team the person will work with, and a supervisor or leader from that same team.  These employees should have received basic interview training prior to being in the interview.  Lessons in Loyalty can give you guidelines.   This ensures the correct questions are asked and it also ensures your questions don’t get you into legal trouble.

Use behavioral interviewing questions. These are questions that ask for specific examples of what the candidate has done, not what they would do.   For example, if you have identified humor as one of the traits you are seeking, try probing with the following: “Tell me about a time you used humor to defuse a difficult customer situation.”  This makes the candidate think of a real scenario which they have experienced versus inventing a “what if.”  Want to know if they are good team players?  Use “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for one of your team members.”  Once you have concluded the interview, make sure all parties involved in the interview review and discuss the candidate and come to a decision as to whether to offer this person the job or not. Remember to always treat the applicant as a customer, no matter what. Many of your applicants probably are customers and you want to keep them as such.  Maintain good communication throughout the interview process.  Treat them with the same respect, whether they get the job or not. They will remember.

4) Did you make the job offer memorable? Employees never forget the moment they are offered a job they really want.  Do you remember where you were when you got the call offering you your current job? Think about what is going through their mind…they can now pay their bills, they can send their family on a vacation, they can start saving money again. You can use that excitement to create a basis for building loyalty from the beginning.  Phone calls are much better than letters because this not only gives the company the opportunity to convey their excitement about hiring the new employee, but it also gives the employee an opportunity to share in the excitement and ask questions. You want them to remember that moment.  It makes their first interaction as an “employee” an exciting one.

Hiring… the first step towards the creation of a loyal employee.  Strive to keep the new hire excitement in all your employees.  With this blog series, you will learn the steps to creating and maintaining that excitement.   In my next blog I’ll give you tips on how to immerse that new hire in your culture right away.

 Loyaltize Your Employees…a unique workshop designed to give participants the blueprint for creating a loyal culture…visit our website www.lessonsinloyalty.com for more information about all our services that help businesses develop a culture of loyalty.

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