It’s Not You, It’s Me. How to Keep New Finance Hires Engaged Beyond the Honeymoon Period  

You’ve made a fantastic new hire.

Fantastic new hire starts, and is, well, fantastic.

Everyone loves her, thinks she’s got great potential. Gold Star to you! Great hire!

But then, after a few months, you begin to notice: a few slip ups here, there; one too many late starts and extended lunch periods, and a waning enthusiasm level for those 7.30am Monday morning meetings.

Six months after starting, ‘fantastic new hire’ hands her notice in. She’s going to a competitor organisation.

We’ve all seen this happen. It’s easy to say it was a ‘bad hire’, ‘wrong fit’, or ‘naivety’ in jumping ship for a glittery sales pitch. Objectively, it’s probably just as much ‘you’ as ‘them’. Let’s face facts – keeping new hires engaged, especially high performers, is challenging, and requires serious thought and action to get it right. And let’s put one thing straight. It’s not about the money – at least not most of the time – it’s generally about the ‘experience’ the hire receives from walking over the threshold on the day of their interview, through to being properly inducted into the business. Get this wrong, and no matter of money will fix it.

#1 Start right: recruit, engage and onboard

It might sound obvious, but getting your recruitment process right is key. If you’re not hiring the right people, they’re never going to last. Properly assessing not only skills, but also behavioural factors, key drivers, organisational fit and long-term motivations are essential to making sure you hire right.

And so is getting onboarding, and pre-onboarding right. A massive proportion of companies offer a job, receive an acceptance and do nothing else except wait for their new employee to start. Why is that wrong? Because it creates a time vacuum which allows doubts to multiply. Your new employee may start, but will they start in the best frame of mind? Meeting them for a coffee, even once during their notice period could make a massive difference.

Don’t just hand over ‘induction’ to HR. Your HR team will have a strong framework, but it’s up to you to ensure it’s tailored to your business area’s needs in order to make sure that you are setting your new hire up for success. Take induction planning seriously – get it right here, and you’ll have years before you have to look at preparing another one.

#2 Big up your communication strategy

There isn’t such a thing as over-communication for new recruits. Where businesses commonly fall down is they overload new recruits with information on how the company works, who people are, their objectives in the first few weeks, and then leave them to it. A consistent, but staged, communication strategy that extends beyond the first couple of days, and doesn’t let important, but not readily available, information slide is a really important factor in assimilating people into organisational culture., and making them feel like they’re being kept informed. Use of peers is also an important part of getting communication right – don’t just create a dialogue between you as the ‘boss’ and the employee, create a network of information sharing that involves your team, not only promoting social interaction but also the development of strong work bonds and common goals.

#3 Don’t be ‘nice’, be a leader

It’s natural to want to be nice to new recruits. However, there is overwhelming evidence that making employees “happy” is the not the key to making them stay, and it’s also not the key to making them the most productive, especially when we’re talking about high performers. Employees, at any stage of tenure, are happiest when they are trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach. Focusing on setting carefully considered stretch goals, and using “pull” techniques to keep new employees meaningfully engaged in the challenge at hand will work far better making them feel “comfortable.”

#4 Never stop ‘inducting’

Finally, never assume you’ve got it in the bag. Even if your new hire seems to be settling in well, don’t switch to it seems like you’ve been here forever! mode. You may feel that, but it’s likely that your new hire is wondering when their next structured career session, training session or “check-in” might be. Elongating induction periods to ensure that there are still development touch points for the new hire to focus on beyond the first few weeks is vital – as is being crystal clear on future training or educational opportunities, recommended leadership development options and assimilation into standard organisational performance management cycles. Demonstrating a clearly articulated people framework will provide reassurance to the new hire in your leadership, and that they are in the best place they can be, right now, to continue progressing their career.

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