Those early days are perilous ones indeed for any new hire. Research suggests that your first 100 days in a job are when you are at your most likely to walk out on your new job. Aside from the fact that someone you previously thought was an essential hire might leave, there is also the considerable cost involved with re-hiring. Therefore, it’s crucial that as organisations we get this onboarding process right.
New research suggests that our traditional attempts at the whole thing aren’t very successful however. It shows that whilst support for employees is generally high to begin with, as the days tick off towards that 100 day landmark, the support they receive gets progressively less.
The study suggests that this decreasing support matters on two levels. The first is that the support an employee receives influences their state of mind and how much effort they make to settle into their new workplace. It also influences successful integration and effort put into work.
The study looks at the local circumstances of the new employee, ie the way the people they see every day behave. It explores the role these circumstances play in shaping the behaviour of the new employee.
The hypothesis is that asking questions to integrate oneself into both the community and into the processes of the organisation require making calls on the time and energy of ones colleagues. Therefore having visual confirmation of such a social and supportive environment can reinforce the courage in new employees to do likewise.
The results showed that this is often the case. When the 255 participants were placed in a new work environment and asked to perform pro-socialisation behaviours. They found that the participants did more integrating when they received higher levels of support from colleagues. Data collected over the following thirteen weeks showed that when the support declined, so too would efforts to integrate.
The initial support received by a new employee was then found to translate into longer-term performance enhancements. Support led to higher organisational commitment and more proactive efforts to solve work problems, together with fewer withdrawal behaviours such as skipping meetings.
Collaboration is as much an attitude as it is anything else, so selling the culture of collaboration to new hires is critical. This study highlights the crucial role on-boarding new recruits in a supportive way can play in embedding collaborative behaviours in employees. If we start rewarding early support behaviours, and give leeway to co-workers and supervisors so they also have time to help out, this gives newcomers the support they need to make an impact.