A blog about reputation, marketing and employee morale.

Employee Onboarding: another lesson from my cats

Posted by Janet Smith on May 8, 2008

My cat, Abbey, needs a lesson in onboarding.

That’s the word that’s being used these days to describe the process of welcoming new employees in a way that makes them quickly feel engaged, connected, eager to work and be productive and be on board with their new employer.

I recently wrote a post about my two new kittens, Bix and Bessie. We had an opening for two entry-level cats, and had many applicants to choose from. These two met every one of our qualifications and then some. From day one, they were excited and ready to jump right in and fulfill all of the requirements of their new positions. But Abbey, who has held the position of Queen Diva Cat for three years here, did a very poor job of onboarding the new felines.

Have you ever started a job and got a bad vibe from a few of your new co-workers who evidently felt threatened by you? They gave you the cold shoulder and made it clear you didn’t belong. They hoped you would quit before the end of the week. That’s the way Abbey acted.

Fortunately, these kittens were so enthusiastic about their new place that they chose to ignore Abbey’s hisses and growls. After nearly a month, the Most Beautiful and Perfect Abbey is actually starting to be nice once in awhile. I guess she’s realized the new hires are here to stay.

With your human new hires, though, you probably won’t be so lucky. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, bestselling authors of The Carrot Principle and other employee motivation books, say that only four percent of new employees say they’ve decided to stay with their company after the first day. Think about it. That means that 96 percent of all people starting new jobs have a first-day impression that leaves them thinking they might not want to continue working there…or wishing they hadn’t taken the job in the first place.

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  1. Ian

    Great point, Janet. I can say from experience that coming into a new job and feeling that you have people willing to help you get acclimated is so important. This is particularly true for young professionals who want to be reassured that they are on the right career path.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Drew Schiller

    @Ian: Nice point about young professionals. Employers must realize that employees are signing up for more than just a job. A new job often introduces a new lifestyle, a different culture, and a revised set of goals into your life. Embracing a young employee immediately can be the difference between that person falling in or out of love with a particular field.