• Mark Topley

Creating a first-day ‘moment’ to boost your retention

Almost a third of new hires will quit in the first 6 months. With the cost of recruitment so high, how can you increase your chances of that great person you interviewed becoming and trusted and valued member of your team?

Recent research indicates that a high proportion of staff will decide whether they are going to leave on the very first day. In a podcast I listened to recently, Stamford Graduate School of Business professor Chip Heath talked about a first-day experience which capitalised on this crucial opportunity. Imagine the scene:

It’s your first day, you enter the building to be met by the person in the team that you’ve been texting. They’re holding a hot cup of the drink you like best (which they’ve subtly discovered in the text conversation you’ve had). On the screens in reception or in a suitably placed frame, there’s a welcome message with your name on. They take you to your locker where there’s a hand-written welcome message from the owner or Principal, who you will get to sit down with at lunchtime so they can tell you about the story of the business, what’s important to them and how your work is going to play a crucial part in delivering that story. Before the end of the day, everyone on the team has taken two minutes at a time that suited them to pop in and say hello.

How different is this to your induction process? Do you genuinely welcome people into the business, and use the opportunity to get them enthusiastic about working with us, or squeeze a hurried walk through the employee handbook and a whirlwind tour of the building into the first few minutes of the day?

Research by psychologists tells us that creating this kind of moment results in a peak experience for people. At the crucial emotional opportunity of the beginning of their first day:

  1. Genuinely welcome them

  2. Make them feel valued

  3. Explain and show them how their work will matter

  4. Invite them into the purpose of the business

  5. Create connections with others

These kinds of emotional connections will significantly improve your retention. Yes, you have to pay fair wages and manage workload. Yes, you have to create and maintain a positive culture and run an efficient business. But if you want loyalty, why not surprise people and resist the flatness of the typical first day, and instead create a memorable moment?

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