Early interactions crucial for new recruits

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First impressions last – it’s an age-old saying which we’ve all heard but just how many employers actually take notice and apply it to themselves? Well, according to one industry expert, not enough.

“A new employee will decide in their first few days of working in an organisation how long they’ll stay with it and whether this is for them or not,” says Diana Barry, director of Dough HR.

“So, how an employer uses that limited time to build a great relationship with their new staff member is crucial to future success,” she continues.

According to Barry, who co-founded the boutique HR consultancy last year, it’s vital employers are well-organised from the outset because the first stages of contact will set the tone for rest of the employment relationship.

“Employees feel respected when the welcome they receive is well-planned and in turn they’ll develop respect for their employer that will help them to be a loyal part of the team and business,” says Barry.

However, despite the importance, Barry says employers don’t always focus on forging a strong relationship.

“I think HR professionals in any organisation, especially these days, are often under pressure to recruit and fill vacancies as soon as possible and sometimes the basics of recruitment and employment processes might not be followed as well as they could be,” she says.

“So things like the hiring process might be a little bit hasty, sometimes poor job descriptions are used, hurried interview processes, and the result of that is that you end up with someone who doesn’t have the best impression of your organisation.”

According to Barry, the employment relationship begins as far back as when employers post job advertisements and can extend many months into employment.

“A job description needs to be clear and it needs to be easily understood,” she says. “They need to be robust, a lot of job descriptions are just minor with the small key tasks written in but there is such an opportunity to make a job description which is really relevant to the culture and the values of that particular business.”

Further down the line, if the employee is successful, Barry says employers should consider sending out induction packs ahead of time.

“If they’ve been given the position and a week before they start they’ve received a little induction plan in the mail – even things along the lines of where to go, where to park, what to wear, who to ask for – that will show an employee that this business is well-organised,” she says.

“It shows them that the people are keen for them to know what’s going on and they feel comfortable coming on their first day. Even that very small point is huge.”

Barry says employers should also think about the best way to introduce a new recruit to leaders and colleagues and even consider providing a plan to guide them through their first week.

“A rough plan for their first week in the role can be hugely beneficial because they’ll have something in their hand which shows them what’s going to happen every day,” she says.

“I think that’s really good value and I think managers also need to talk to their other employees about what they need to do, what their part is in welcoming a new staff member.”

Then once they’ve actually started, Barry says HR professionals shouldn’t assume the new recruit is now the responsibility of their department manager.

“I do think that as an employee starts and they complete their induction and they settle into their work area, sometimes another mistake is that they’re left to their own devices,” she says.

“Once the initial induction is over, that new employee still needs to be supported and given assistance. It might be three months, perhaps, but someone should be talking to them each week to see how they’re managing and if they have any questions, give them information, that type of thing.”

Barry says all of these measures help the employee settle into work faster which ultimately pays off for both them and their employer.

“If they’re well settled into place, if they know where they are and what’s expected of them, they will feel respected as well as welcomed and that’s a really good start for an employee to work towards.”

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