If you’ve followed my column for any length of time, you’ve probably seen just how passionate I am about the importance of investing in talent. Our industry has so many tremendous people; nevertheless, all the time, I hear about how difficult it is to find great talent…and to keep that great talent on board.
Some people tend to think the challenge of finding talent has to do with a lack of interest in our industry. Although AV systems might never be as “cool” as working for Google or Facebook might be, our businesses are quite “cool” when you think about what we do to help people communicate and collaborate more effectively. And, as we continue to evolve and adapt to new technology, we will only become cooler.
I’ve noticed that companies that continue to flourish in our industry are not only successful at finding and recruiting talent, but also successful at keeping that talent around long term.
Making sure that employees start off right is so important to their company longevity. What happens right after new employees are hired, and on into the first few months, makes them more comfortable, while also keeping them excited about the company they chose and the path before them.
Studies show that, when listening to someone speak, we make a decision in the first seven seconds about whether we’re interested in what they have to say. In other words, people don’t wait long to decide whether they like something. That holds true when selecting whom we date, what brands we buy and for what companies we choose to work.
It’s entirely possible for integrators to make sure the first few months go as smoothly as possible for new employees. I recommend the following three strategies to help make that happen.
1. Have a plan for the first day.
Make sure you have a streamlined approach to what the employee’s first day—and first few weeks—will look like. I’ve heard so many horror stories of employees who show up for work and who don’t have anything to work with—even a computer.
If paperwork, benefits information and laptop/phone/email systems aren’t ready, it looks really bad. It can even make the employee question the company’s capabilities.
2. Have a plan that goes beyond the first day.
Take time to paint a picture of what the first 30, 60 and 90 days will look like for your new hires. What training, shadowing and job rotation will help them better understand the business, while also illustrating that their professional development matters to your organization?
3. Keep communication open.
Make sure that communication isn’t shut down. It’s great that the company’s president took time to meet the new sales rep or installer during the interview process; however, if he or she becomes unavailable shortly after the hire, it appears as though executives aren’t interested in employees. The president doesn’t have to have weekly lunches with new hires, but the lines of communication shouldn’t be severed once someone agrees to work for your organization.
First impressions are so important. When it comes to keeping the talent, which we work so hard to find and hire, that principle holds true. You can inspire employees to buy into the company and stay longer, thus improving business continuity and giving your firm better odds for continued growth.
Every company in our industry should take a look at not only how and whom they hire, but also what they do when new hires show up for work on day one. Then, you need to keep those new hires engaged during those critical first few months, so that they’re excited about a long-term future with you.
NSCA offers a few resources to help in those areas. For example, our Certificate as a Systems Integration Professional (C-SIP) program is a great way to introduce new employees to the industry. Those programs offer four different modules: project management, marketing, operations and sales. They can be worked into your onboarding process to get new employees started on the right foot. C-SIP training provides the right level of industry- and job-specific preparation in an online, at-your-own-pace format, without placing the training or information-transfer burden onto existing staff members.
Insperity, an NSCA Business Accelerator, also offers many helpful hints about onboarding and getting employees ramped up quickly and efficiently. We recently featured a free webinar on the topic. (Visit the “What Every Integrator Needs to Know” section of www.nsca.org/webinars to view the archived version.) We also have a few blogs that provide tips. You can read a good one at www.nsca.org/importance-employee-onboarding-get-started.