How Meaningful First Impressions Reduce Turnover in the First Month of Employment
Posted by Melissa Meunier on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 @ 01:00 PM

First impressions matter. Just ask the movie industry. A bad trailer, a couple of negative reviews or a poorly chosen title can doom a movie to lose millions at the box office and live out its DVD existence in the bottom of a bargain bin at Walmart.


When stakes are high, you have to get the early part of the process right. Otherwise, you’ll never have a chance to prove how great you can be.

And that’s just as true in your hiring department as it is in Hollywood.

According to the 2018 Retention Report from Work Institute, a staggering 40% of turnover happens in the first year. About half of those people leave in the first 90 days.

The good news, though, is that more than 75% of voluntary turnover is preventable.

Here’s what managers can do to create meaningful first impressions that persuade new hires to stay through the first month and beyond. 

Preboarding: Engagement Starts Early

An engaging preboarding process sets employees up for success and communicates that you’re excited about working with them. Start by sending a welcome message to let them know what their next steps will be and help them feel ready for Day One.

If possible, get paperwork out of the way now, using electronic documents with e-signatures. You may also want to send a packet in the mail that includes a welcome letter from the CEO, an employee handbook, any culture and strategy information you have available and some company swag. 

Day One: Roll Out the Red Carpet

The employee’s first day is your chance to make a memorable impression that will carry them through the learning curve as they adjust to your company processes and culture. Here are a few ways to do that effectively:

  • Assign a buddy. An onboarding buddy or mentor can ease the transition for new hires and give them an immediate connection within the team. This person can help them get settled in, talk them through processes and answer questions – and, of course, show them where the coffee pot is.

  • Give them a warm team welcome. Ask team members to sign a welcome note and leave it on the new employee’s desk. Introduce them to each of the people they will be working with, and encourage team members to send a quick email to say hello.

  • Make the first day memorable. Look for ways you can create positive experiences that cause your new employee to walk away thinking, “I LOVE my job!” For example, have someone meet them at the door when they come in, take them out to lunch with the team, have their desk set up and ready to go and leave a note or small welcome gift for them.

First Week: Sell Them On Your “Why”

During this first week, emphasize culture and strategy rather than burying the new employee in paperwork and rules. Onboarding sessions should emphasize the “why” behind company policies and procedures. For example, if you are a healthcare facility dedicated to excellent patient experiences, demonstrate how every part of the job contributes to supporting and serving patients well.

Managers should also take some time during this week to ask for feedback and talk through the new employee’s personal and professional goals. Design these initial goals for quick wins, and celebrate when they have been completed.

First Month: Get Comfortable With the New Normal

As your new team member begins to settle into a routine, it’s tempting to take a step back and let them sink or swim. Don’t do it! One week is not enough time for new employees to learn everything they need to know to perform their best.

You can help new hires feel settled and confident by setting clear goals and providing frequent opportunities to check in and ask questions. Establish regular rounding sessions with managers to help employees stay connected with company culture and establish a habit of feedback and communication.

This is also the time to establish a healthy pattern of recognition and reward for both small and big wins. Let new employees know when they have met expectations and celebrate with them.

According to Work Institute, the top three reasons employees leave their jobs are career development, work-life balance and manager behavior. By setting positive expectations at the outset and making the most of early touch points, you can make meaningful first impressions in each of those areas as you encourage new employees to stay the course.

Topics: reducing turnover, onboarding, Employee Engagement, employee turnover, preboarding, Employee Experience, recognition moments, Career Experiences, day one

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