Here are seven ways electrical distributors can boost new employee efficiency while also helping their existing team members improve their own productivity levels.
In the first segment of this 2-part article series we talked about the expense associated with hiring new employees and told you that your distributorship has just 30 days to prove itself as an “employer of choice” in a new worker’s eyes (and despite how long your probationary period may be). In this article, we’ll show you what you can do to enhance the efficiency levels of your new hires while also improving productivity and engagement levels for existing employees.
According to Kelly Jones, NAED’s director of learning and program content, one of the simplest ways to get employees up to speed and efficient quickly is by making them feel like they’re part of the family—even if they just came onboard. “Make them feel welcome, and really think about what that means in the context of your organization,” Jones says. “Preferably by the end of their first week on the job—and definitely within their first 30 days—you want new hires to feel welcome, supported, and invested in.”
Here are seven more strategies that electrical distributors can use to eke more efficiencies out of their new hires (and, their existing employees):
- Get a head start on the competition. According to SHRM, 22% of turnover occurs in the first 45 days. That gives distributors a great opportunity to improve employee retention while also enhancing efficiencies for its entire workforce. As you read in Part I of this series, a solid employee onboarding process can decrease the amount of turnover and support new associates by helping them to become productive much quicker.
- Train in digestible chunks. Give them the information they need to get up to speed quickly, but without overwhelming them. Keep the sessions relatively short, Jones says, and use online learning to “fill in” the gaps and allow employees to consume the learning at their own pace. “E-learning lets them pause, take a break, and go back over areas where they need more education,” says Jones. Distributors should aim for a simple approach, focusing mainly on the absolute “need to know” for specific positions. Then, put some instructional design behind that content and try to keep it short and focused. Don’t forget to use spaced repetition for points that new hires need to hear more than once (but not to the point where they get bored with it). “If you’re breaking onboarding material down into fewer, shorter sessions,” says Jones, “you can repeat key points a couple of different ways; that really helps employees learn new content.
- Tap into industry resources. NAED offers a multitude of professional development and training opportunities that distributors can tap into. Learning Paths for new employees, for example, help companies establish a systematic approach to onboarding to provide new hires with a consistent welcome experience. Jones suggests the following coursework for all new hires: Intro to electrical distribution, EDGE (Electrical Distributor Guided Education), Bottom line basics (fundamentals of industry financials and profit and how to contribute to the bottom line) and Pro courses. “The HR/Safety track has compliance training and basic safety training for warehouse roles and drivers,” she adds.
- Set up a mentoring program. Having connections with corporate leadership is important for all employees, but it’s particularly crucial for new hires that are just getting started. “Make sure your leaders are visible and approachable,” says Jones, “so that all employees get to hear from them and feel connected to them.” A formal or informal mentoring program can be a useful tool, and particularly if it’s established during the person’s first 90 days on the job. “Buddy them up with someone who can answer their questions, assuage their fears, and help them navigate everything from the breakroom to the employee parking lot,” says Jones. “Managers can’t always provide that level of support, but an informal mentor can.”
- Bake culture into everything you do. People don’t leave jobs; they leave other people. This is why it’s important to factor culture into all onboarding, training, and mentoring activities. “The vast majority of people leave jobs not because of their skillsets, but because of poor cultural fit,” says Jones, who tells companies to work harder to help new hires understand the company, learn the culture, build relationships, and make connections at work. “This gets overlooked a lot during the onboarding process,” says Jones, “and it’s something that should be baked into a new employee training program.”
- Don’t wait until their first annual review to discuss career opportunities. Even someone who is fully engaged in his or her current job wants to know that something better or more challenging is waiting around the next corner. Instead of letting that person leave for another company, start to talk about career advancement early in the game. This, in turn, will translate into better employee efficiency. “Don’t wait until someone asks about professional development and/or career advancement opportunities,” says Jones. “Have those conversations early.”
- Know the benefits. If your distributorship hasn’t historically emphasized new hire efficiency and productivity, then the advice in this article series probably sounds expensive and time-consuming. While it will take some elbow grease to get going, creating a solid onboarding process will pay off in dividends. “The benefit comes in the form of return on investment (ROI) on the money you’ve spent on hiring and recruiting (up to $7,645 per new worker),” says Jones, who adds that employee retention also goes up when people get up to speed, operational, and comfortable faster. “SHRM’s research tells us that a strong onboarding program translates into 70% of employees being more likely to stay with an organization for at least three years.”
SIDEBAR: Five Ways to Keep Them Coming Back
In Five Ways to Keep Your New Hires from Failing, Darcy Jacobsen outlines these five tips for getting new employees up to speed and efficient within a short period of time:
- Show them how to walk the talk. Quickly introduce newcomers to your corporate values by showing what it means to practice them.
- Use the buddy system. Assign a mentor for each new employee.
- Accentuate the positive. Increase trust and show a new employee’s relevance and fit with your organization through positive feedback.
- Drop them in the deep end. Focus on building social connections and relationships by offering newcomers ample opportunities for professional interactions.
- Recognize early and often. Offer new employees recognition within their first 30 days on the job.
Tagged with best practices, retention