Hi honey, I’m home (with a difference)

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Written by Paul Matthews on 17 February 2016

Lots of people get home from work every day and say “Hi honey I’m home”, or something similar, but in a few cases it is different, and very special.

Those special cases are when they are getting home after their first day at work in a new job. What happens next?

“How did it go?”

“What are they like?”

“Did you have a good day?”

Their spouse, their children, their parents, even their mates at the pub will all ask endless questions. They are interested, and they care that their loved one has found a new job that will serve them well. After all, in many cases, they also have a strong vested interest in the job working out well.

If the new starter has just arrived home after their first day at YOUR organisation, what do you want them to answer?

Your early attrition rate depends on that answer. And the cost of early attrition is huge. What did it cost you to get them to the door on their first day?

This can run into many thousands. What’s it going to cost you during their new starter phase? Again, this can run into many thousands. And then of course, if they leave, you have those costs all over again a few weeks or a few months later.

I saw one figure which stated that 22 per cent of staff turnover occurs within the first 6 weeks.

So now that your attention is on their answer to those arriving home after their first day questions, what do want them to answer?

Does your induction/onboarding/orientation process provide them an experience during their first day that would mean they give their spouse the answer you would wish?

The vast majority of induction processes I have seen would fail this critical test.

The reason is very simple. The induction processes are designed to satisfy the immediate needs of the organisation rather than the immediate needs of the new starter.

The organisation wants their new starter to be productive and proficient as soon as possible, and to do so within whatever compliance framework is in place. Most inductions are designed with this in mind, and little thought is given to what the new starter wants during their first few days.

So what do they want? Think back to any time that you started a new job, or joined a new team, or turned up for your first day at a new gym, or a new social club, or met any group of people for the first time? What did you feel like before you met them? What did you want to happen, and what did happen?

We are social animals and joining a new tribe is a very big deal to us. A new starter is typically way more interested in the people around them, and the culture of those people.

And by culture, I do not mean the grand corporate culture, I mean the small things that govern their day-to-day actions, the way people treat each other, and the rules about who gets to use which bottle of milk in the fridge.

There is a huge tension between what the new starter is looking for in their new job, and what the organisation is looking for in their new starter.

Here’s a question for you. Who has the power in this situation, the organisation, or the new starter?

So here is my challenge…

How can you change your induction programme so that the early stages cater more to the needs of the new starter than to the needs of the organisation?


About the author 

Paul Matthews is the founder of People Alchemy and expert in workplace learning, especially informal learning, as well as management development and employee performance improvement.