Less Employer Pain, More Employee Gain: Onboarding For Success

I RECENTLY worked with an organisation that in the past twelve months had gone through 30 staff members.


This figure is alarming not just from an overall turnover perspective, but because they are an SME, as their business only had ten staff members in total (at the time) to begin with.

Let’s take a step back, and break this ‘what went wrong’ example down.

On taking the job brief with the owner, I was told the business had experienced extremely bad luck with past hires. I was given a page full of reasons – and, curiously enough, they all pointed outwards.

“She just disappeared”

“I think we may have made a rushed hiring decision”

“He was a family friend and didn’t have the right skill set”

“To be honest, a lot have been just plain crazy…”

On paper, the business is a dream. A family owned company with a sales rep leading the business, well known in the real estate industry, and well respected in the community. The office was beautiful to look at and their marketing was fantastic. The owner had a warm, friendly and highly personable approach which made me feel as though some of the reasons for staff turnover could well be true.

I agreed to work with this business based on my initial interactions and gut feeling, and, after speaking to a number of people in my network, I submitted a number of highly skilled candidates to be considered. The interview experience for candidates was long – but engaging and informative. The owner clearly demonstrated their experience in sales by successfully marketing both the business and the opportunity.

The owner was impressed by two of the candidates presented and after much consideration, made a decision to go to offer with one. For the sake of this article, let’s call the candidate Claire**.

After the exciting interview process, Claire couldn’t wait to sign up. This, unfortunately is where the dream run started to go downhill. The first rumbles in the landslide of discontented new employee began when the owner offered the excited Claire $15,000 below the salary she was currently getting. Surprisingly to me, Claire still accepted. Her thought process was ‘short term financial pain, for long term financial gain.’ Also, in Claire’s eyes, this was an opportunity to both work with, and learn from, one of the best sales reps in her local area.

Day One at the new job. An excited and nervous Claire turned up. She was on time, immaculately presented and smiling from ear to ear with enthusiasm. As she was escorted to her work station, the first unpleasant surprise. Claire didn’t have her own desk. The seating arrangement was that she would sit at the edge of the owner’s desk. She had no logins, no computer, no stationary – no phone.

On the upside, the staff were lovely. They made her feel incredibly welcome, so she attempted to push those falling rocks of discontent aside in an attempt to enjoy her first week. At lunchtime, the friendly team invited Claire to join them – and unfortunately, shared how unhappy they were working for the business owner. The overall consensus? The owner was extremely hard to work with, and for. The next couple of days went by and the owner put Claire to work, but again, to her unpleasant surprise, the job she was hired for was being done by someone else in the business. The role explained and described in the job brief and interview process was inaccurate. Claire, attempting to act with integrity and in a professional manner, asked for a meeting to get clarification as to the position description and expectations, but the owner communicated that they were “too busy” to have a meeting. They put Claire off, suggesting meeting “next week”. She was now understandably frustrated but pushed on, taking initiatives and successfully closing two deals in her first week.

Claire had now worked fourteen days straight with no break, no meeting, minimal communication, no desk and no encouragement or acknowledgement. Enough was enough. That landslide of discontented new employee I mentioned? It started to look a little more like a Alps-worthy avalanche.

This was too much short term pain.

She quit. The ‘frustrated’ owner called me with a number of excuses as to why this employee wasn’t right for the job. Unfortunately, yet again, they hadn’t seen the way they could get more gain, and less pain – and a great long-term employee.

Takeouts from this experience:

Pre hire

  • Define the role prior to commencing the recruitment process.
  • Ensure that you are accurately describing the position at interview
  • Set up an employee’s workstation with all the necessary items and instructions. This may include desk, phone, computer, logins, keys, voicemail instructions, staff list, business cards and if you want to stand out from others in the industry, a welcome gift.
  • Send the employee a first day email. This should include, time to arrive, who to ask for, what to bring, where to park and an insight to what to expect week one.
  • Make an announcement to the existing team that the new employee is joining.

First Day

Introduce the employee to the entire team.
Give the employee a complete tour of the workplace including where people sit as well as bathroom, kitchen and technical/IT locations.
Take the employee to lunch and invite coworkers. This provides a casual opportunity to get to know the team.
Appoint a peer level buddy in the same work area and a management mentor to help support the employee in the first month of employment.
Go through the goals and agenda for the first week.
Schedule follow up catch ups for the second week and at 30, 60 and 90 days.


  • Encourage two way conversation
  • Acknowledge wins
  • Identify and resolve concerns.
  • Losing a quality employee is expensive. Consider the costs of not only recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training, each replacement employee – but the overall effect on your entire team.
  • Combating reduced morale, loss of productivity, customer dissatisfaction, lost expertise, lost business and administration costs not only leads to long-term pain – it can snow you under permanently.

Ask yourself; are you currently feeling employee turnover pain?

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