A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the importance of giving a new hire that critical 90 day period to learn the ropes and start to get a feel for the job you hired them for. Just as important during this time is making sure the new hire feels like they made the right decision about your organization. Experts call this the attachment phase, and the research suggests you have about 120 days to cement the relationship with your new hire if you want to keep them around.
There are three phases to this attachment period and we’ll look at each one in some detail. Phase one happens before phases 2 and 3, but the other two phases can happen simultaneously.
New Hire Phase 1 – Offer through Day 3
Unfortunately, we sometimes think when we’ve made a job offer to a candidate and they have accepted, we can breathe a sigh of relief because the hard journey of recruiting has finally finished. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For your new hire, this begins a (most often) two week period of mixed emotions. There is an equal dose of excitement mixed with wondering if they made the right decision to leave the job, coworkers, and comfort they know for a new challenge. This is the time when your organization needs to over communicate with the new hire and the communication needs to be high touch. In addition to the offer letter, there should be some sort of personal communication from the new hire’s manager expressing how glad they are that the individual is joining the team. This can be a hand written note, a personalized email, or a telephone call. Just prior to the start date, there needs to be another round of communication. This one needs to be even more personalized. As the start date approaches, your new hire is going to have more and more questions. As best you can, anticipate these questions and try to provide answers. A phone call is ideal. Tell them again that you are looking forward to having them around. Let them know where and when to report on the first day and who will meet them (in person) to show them to where they need to be.
This is also a great time for the manager to let the rest of the team know about the addition to the team, including when they will start, where they will sit, and how to get in touch with them once they are on board.
New Hire Phase 2 – Internal
Once those first 3 days are out of the way, and all the excitement of the new job, new hire orientation, and simply finding your way around, it’s important to help the new hire with feeling like they fit in and have everything they need to be successful. The first two questions of Gallup’s Q12 survey provide a good guideline for this phase. Does your new employee know what is expected of them, and do they have all the tools and equipment necessary to do their job. This is also the time when the newness wears off for the the rest of the department as well. It’s easy to be excited about the new hire’s first day or two, but then people tend to put their heads down and go back to work. Best practice here would be to make sure you have pre-planned a schedule of “guides” to keep the new hire engaged in what’s going on. Assign different people to take the new person to lunch and get to know them. Schedule meetings with individuals as well as the team to allow your teammate to learn what each person in the department does and what they are working on that’s important to them. These cultural connections are important in building a sense of community and trust between the current team and the new iteration of your group.
New Hire Phase 3 – External
The external phase applies in varying degrees depending on who the new hire is. It’s a critical phase if your new teammate has relocated to take the job with your company. In addition to all the anxiety associated with the job itself, being in a new place only adds to the level of stress associated with their change. Some new employees may need help navigating the community, learning where to go to take care of all their non-work needs. In addition, some new employees may be in a state need to locate a home to buy or rent.
Employees that have trailing spouses or partners also have to think about the change this new job will require their family to go through. Often the trailing spouse or partner can make or break the experience for your employee. After all, if your partner isn’t happy and wants nothing more than to move back home to be close to family, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
One of our newest and most popular services is what we call InPlacement. We get involved with the new employee and their family to help navigate life in their new city. Our customers have said that it helps make the transition much smoother.
Most organizations spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to recruit the perfect candidate to fill a job. If you aren’t careful and perfect the attachment period, you find yourself right back where you started.