Today, all you have to do is walk into almost any company or store in the United States to see help wanted signs. Employee shortages have hit every industry and every community. It is really quite surreal and posses huge challenges to companies.

Let us begin at the point where a desperate company has hired a new employee. What happens next is the PROCESS of bringing a person into the organization, known as “onboarding”. This is the most critical process for employee retention since you only have one chance to make a first impression.

It costs a lot of time and money to hire a new employee so the onboarding process can make or break a company. Since onboarding is a process, we can map, analyze, and improve it.

Research has shown that the work culture is a top factor when measuring employee happiness and it goes on to state that an employee’s colleagues are the number one reason why they love their jobs (see #4 below).

The top 5 tips taken from Google, Netflix, and Zappos:

  1. Technology is set up when they arrive
  2. A dedicated mentor is assigned to help each new hire
  3. Top executives meet with all new hires
  4. Introduce them to their coworkers, which facilitates potential friendships
  5. Zappos offers to pay them to leave. What?!? Zappos offers employees the opportunity to take a five-week course that teaches them everything they need to know about company culture and values. At the end of the course, employees are offered $2,000 to leave if they don’t think they’re the right fit. Believe it or not, only about 1% of new hires have historically taken the money.

As Lean Six Sigma folks we can (now more than ever) help our organizations by using our process improvement skills to improve the onboarding process. We should at minimum map the current process, identify the culture of how new hires are welcomed, and complete a benchmarking study about successful onboarding processes. If we do this we can answer the questions: What to change? What to change it to? What actions will create the change?

The real key to onboarding and other employee programs is how the organization thinks about employees. Are employees considered an asset or a liability? If the organizational thinking is that employees are an appreciating asset that are key to long term success then we will be supported in our improvement efforts. If employees are viewed as costly liabilities that should be reduced as much as possible, then any time or money spent on employee development will be seen as wasteful spending and not supported.

How is your company’s onboarding process? Should it be improved? Would increased employee retention help meet customer demand?

Love to hear your thoughts and thanks for reading.

Stay sharp and see you in the Gemba!