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Is this why your on-boarding programmes are failing?

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More than half of bosses only give their new hires a time span of one to less than three months to prove themselves, but according to the book  The First 90 Days, it takes about 90 days for an employee to start adding value to the team.

Findings by Officevibe, an employee engagement platform, showed that 22% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment.

Unfortunately, many companies lose their talent before they can get productive.

In many firms, employee orientation focuses solely on corporate culture and identity.

There’s a lecture about the firm’s history and the standard operating procedures followed by a huge stack of  documents from  human resources with more information about the company.

In other words, employers are having too much of “me” time when it comes to orientation which is killing productivity and driving up turnover rate according to Francesca Gino, Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

“Organisations will talk about recruiting from outside the company because they need new ideas and new blood, but then there is this tendency to shut off the new and basically transfer the corporate culture over to the new employee,” Gino told HBS Working Knowledge.

In her paper, “Breaking Them In or Eliciting Their Best? Reframing Socialization around Newcomers’ Self-expression, Gino and her research team conducted a field study at Wipro, an Indian based call centre that provides telephone support for global customers.

Traditionally, the company orientation for new comers consisted of an informational session about the company, followed by several weeks of skills training.  It has proven to be ineffective, more than half of its call new hires quit only a few months after training.

In a field experiment, the researchers divided batches of new call agents into an individual identity group, an organisational identity group, and a control group.

The control group went through the traditional process. The two identity groups received the same training as the control group, but also an additional hour-long presentation.

For the individual identity condition, a senior leader at Wipro spent 15 minutes discussing ways in which working at the company would enable the newcomers to express their individuality.

Then, the new agents answered a series of questions about their individual strengths such as, “What is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance at work?” Finally, the agents shared their strengths with their future officemates.

For the organisational condition, new employees spent 15 minutes listening to a senior Wipro leader and a “star performer” at the company talk about why Wipro was a singular place to work.

Next, the newcomers spent 15 minutes writing answers to questions such as, “What did you hear about Wipro today that you would be proud to tell your family about?” Finally, the group members discussed their answers with each other.

Seven months later, the researchers looked into whether the orientation changes affected how long the newcomers/agents chose to stay with the company.

The turnover rate in the control group was 47.2 % higher than that of the individual identity group, and 16.2 % higher than that of the organisational identity group. Moreover employees in the individual identity group had garnered higher customer satisfaction scores than those in the control group.

For employers, the implications of the findings are pretty clear. “Given that the standard, organisation-focused approach of employee socialisation is so common, it would benefit managers to think about an alternative approach where there’s more room for newcomers’ self-expression,” said Gino.

Image: Shutterstock

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