How to manage new staff

New employee

Elspeth Watt, director of Calibre HR & Training, explains how to help new joiners settle in and hit the ground running.

Recruiting people costs money. So as well as helping new joiners get to grips with the job as quickly as possible, you also want to make sure they stick around. And don’t assume they will be happy just because they’ve got the job.

Here’s the breakdown of when people leave:

  • 1st Week: 16.45%
  • 1st Month: 17.42%
  • 2nd Month: 16.77%
  • 3rd Month: 17.42%
  • 4th Month: 10.97%
  • 5th Month: 5.48%
  • 6th Month: 14.48% (source:

And the reason too often is simply a lack of support. According to the BambooHR report, some reasons include the feeling that new employees have that they are neglected, overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and underqualified.

Other significant responses to this question include:

  • “Changed mind on work-type”
  • “Different work than expected”
  • “Not enough training”
  • “Not fun”
  • “Boss was a jerk”

Small businesses might not be the cold, intimidating places that big firms can be. However, with relationships, processes and cultures deeply entrenched and equally difficult to fathom, small firms can be just as daunting to the new recruit. So how can you help your new employee fit in and find their feet?

Don’t forget to smile

All new staff – including those returning from sick or maternity leave – are entitled to a good reception on their first day, and to be accepted and welcomed. It might sound obvious, but it doesn’t always happen.

Explain the job

New joiners should have some time with their manager on the first day. However, the induction itself can be spread over several days or weeks. The critical thing is to help new people quickly understand what is expected of them and how they fit in.

Introduce people

As well as meeting the key people in terms of performing their job, induction programmes can help new joiners settle in on a more social level. Establishing a buddy system with a more experienced colleague can relieve some of the pressure on time-pressed managers and help with day-to-day questions and making introductions to other colleagues, suppliers, partners etc.

Remember people are different

With a plan as guidance, tailor the induction for each new joiner. Everyone’s needs are different and some people need special attention, for instance school and college leavers or those returning from a career break. Remember to think about disabled employees’ access and equipment needs and their dealings with other colleagues.

Keep a record

Have a proper review at the end of the probationary period and ask new employees to counter-sign to acknowledge they have had the necessary training and read any relevant policies and procedures. This record can prove vital in the event of any health and safety incident or in any allegations concerning discriminatory behaviour.

Induction checklist

  • An organisational outline showing how the employee’s role fits into the company
  • A clear outline of the job requirements and its purpose
  • Details of how any probationary period and subsequent staff appraisal system will operate
  • A description of where to find things and people such as employee representatives, stationery cupboard, canteen etc
  • Legally required health and safety and anti-discriminatory behaviour information
  • Some details of the organisation’s history, what it produces and its culture and values

Creating a culture for success

Research has shown that when all other things are equal, a winning culture can help you win more deals and increase profits. Jonathan Fitchew, joint managing director of Pareto Law, winner of the Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work For, looks at the secrets of creating a strong company culture.

Talent, qualifications and skills will only get you so far in business, but to really succeed you need to have a team that shares common goals and beliefs. That’s what I call culture. So where do you start and what are the main areas to focus on if you are going to maintain and nurture that culture?

Right from the outset

No amount of culture will help you if you don’t have the right people in the first place. So start your drive for a success culture with the recruitment process. Take time to make sure that new employees will fit into your organisation and help strengthen your ethos. Don’t rely on the old one-hour interview – you are making a major investment, so make sure you adopt a layered approach to recruitment.

Tough love

Once you have found the right people, don’t think you can sit back and watch as they transform your company into an overnight success. Too many companies follow the latest fad and hope that it will somehow miraculously deliver a culture. Some organisations feel that confrontation is damaging to culture and go to the other extreme; letting staff get away with murder. A culture is created but it is one of missed deadlines, broken promises and lost customers. In short it’s a culture of failure. People need challenging goals and guidance on how to achieve those aims. By explaining how their actions have a direct effect on the success of the business, you ultimately provide your staff with a certain amount of ownership. And if you own something you are more likely to look after it.


Engage members of your team as individuals; they have different skills, needs and attitudes. Some may respond well to a Gordon Ramsey style of management, while others would disintegrate faced with such a robust approach. If there is any conflict within the group, break the group down by engaging with individuals rather than addressing them as a whole. This will not only be less intimidating for the minority, but problems will be highlighted more quickly and ironed out by one-on-one discussions.

Realistic attitudes

If your staff are going to be putting in 45 hours a week, cut them some slack on things like lunch break times. Let them go when they get a natural break in their work and don’t impose a mill-owner style lunch hour. Without getting into the quagmire of flexitime, you should reciprocate with time off when people work late to complete a project. Allowing employees to manage their own time will help motivation and usually means staff adopt a more responsible attitude to taking time off.

Getting people to give their own creativity

A well-managed company culture has a benefit that delivers value over the medium to long term, through creativity and innovation. Young people in particular realise that they are not in a job for life; as a consequence they will save up their best ideas for an employer who deserves them and will reward them for their contribution. If we can create a culture of belonging, staff will feel they owe it to their colleagues to share ideas. To achieve this staff feel that they can have an impact on the direction of the business and a share in the ultimate rewards. It means letting go of control and encouraging a sort of inverted pyramid of decision making. It’s a risk, but the alternative is for staff to take the pay and wait around for a more enlightened employer to come along.

Cultivating rewards

Now we are getting down to the core reason for developing a strong company culture: the rewards. When you have created it, use the status as a selling aspect and a point of reference. However, awareness of a successful establishment frequently increases through word of mouth. People are coming round to the realisation that a company can be fun and exhilarating. If your employees are satisfied with their job, they will not be in a hurry to move, so staff turnover will be reduced. Motivated individuals want to be involved in an establishment where they are surrounded by success.

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