Change is a constant thing in the corporate world, but unfortunately for Sam’s company, the latest change wasn’t of the good kind. Sam works as an HR Manager for a BPO company, and one of their clients recently made a decision that sent attrition rates soaring for an account. Thankfully, the company had an efficient team to handle the hiring, and the workforce was replenished quickly.

However, a recent assessment has conveyed a new problem. According to the numbers, the new hires were falling far short of their productivity goals. The expected increase in production after a few weeks did not materialize, pointing to a problem somewhere. It falls to Sam to find out what’s going on and to find a fix.

Starting slowly

According to the statistics, a new hire takes about 8 months before he reaches the full productivity of a seasoned employee. This is a relatively long time, even in a business lifecycle. That’s why it’s very important to retain existing employees, instead of having to scout new ones. But attrition does happen — and if the average time to productivity lengthens further, then it is very detrimental to the company.

Contrary to the ideas of many, the starting line of an employee’s productivity lies not during the training period. Rather, it starts with an efficient onboarding process. During orientation and onboarding, the company starts setting the expectations of its new hires. The problem is, around 22% of companies do not have any formal onboarding program to take care of this. This leaves up to 60% of employees without any clear productivity goals they should be striving for.

Getting up to speed

A “formal” onboarding program shouldn’t just focus on getting the employees to learn the ropes. There are other factors that make it successful, as the following expert tips will show.

Start onboarding as early as possible. Technically, onboarding begins after the employee has been hired. However, it is possible to start even earlier than that. Even during the hiring process (interview, etc.), it is important to be transparent about the culture of the company. As early as this, show the applicant how things work. This will set his mind about the things he could expect once hired. Productivity-wise, it allows him to know how he will pace himself when it comes to learning new things.

For the HR’s part, it is important to identify any possible issues with transition this early on. Are there any gaps in the applicant’s capability? Any issues with forming a working relationship? Any complaints about the culture as he perceives it? This will help shake off potential problems that will form down the road.

Get them on the job. It’s not advisable for the employee to go through the entire learning phase just cooped up in the training room. Expose them to the real deal as soon as possible, even if you do not get them hands-on. This will let them observe the best practices and emulate them. Such an emulation gives a boost in productivity as they learn this early on how to “act like the pros”.

By doing this, you are also inspiring confidence by showing them what they will be a part of. They will know how they can contribute, and they have the opportunity to work towards it. They will also know what is expected of them.

When possible, get them a mentor. A single trainer or supervisor cannot always handle an entire team. This is especially true when several people start asking questions all at once. Not every query can be answered in the most detailed way possible. If you can, incorporate a 1-on-1 mentorship program into the training. This way, there is a single point of contact for every new hire. This person will be in charge of answering their questions and showing them the ropes outside of the formal classroom training.

Never forget feedback. If you are to help a new hire reach his full productivity levels, you should help him stretch his limits. However, do not forget to ask for feedback on how things are going for him. Is the training process too stressful? Does he have any concerns that are holding him back? Has he identified any blockers to productivity that you may have overlooked? This individual attention will help him air out any issues, giving you time to address them before they manifest as productivity problems. You can do this check at the end of every day starting from the first.

That last part is very important, since the first 45 days often spell the length of a new hire’s service in the company. Within this period, around 20% of all turnovers happen. Set clear goals all the way up to full time deployment. It can also be helpful if you can plan a meet-and-greet with the higher ups, giving them a venue to ask question and provide feedback directly to the powers that be.

Stay on track. For the new hires to stay on track, you must stay on track too. Don’t rush the onboarding process, as doing so can be akin to throwing a bird off the nest even before it can completely fly. In fact, some studies show that longer onboarding programs can as much as halve the 8-month average time to productivity. By introducing new sets of skills and continuously providing adjusted goals to employees during the extended onboarding period, you can lead them to becoming more comfortable and more productive in their roles.

Sam’s findings ultimately led his company to revise its onboarding process from scratch. Feedback from the new hires were incorporated, and future new hires had shown a comparatively stellar performance. Those hired before the change were also given “uptraining” sessions to help their productivity.

It’s remarkable how much change starting early can make, especially on something as important as employee productivity. With the right touch, new hires can be brought up to speed in a much shorter time, giving them more room for growth as they stay in the company.


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