Employee Familiarity Breeds Content

Have you ever wondered where your new employees have been? You might find it interesting and very beneficial to find out. Most come with preconceived notions or ideas of how most companies work.

At Safeguard, we have a “new hire lunch” every 90 days where the president of our company, Mike Bradley, and I attend. We typically have six to 10 persons and we keep it extremely casual. This is an opportunity to explain a little about Safeguard’s history, our culture, management style and maybe eliminate some of those “preconceived notions.” At the beginning of each meeting I go around the table and ask what their former position was, why they are no longer there and how they found their way to our door.

New employees find their way to you in one of three ways: 1. They quit for some reason (not enough money, didn’t like their supervisor or company); 2. They were laid off or terminated; 3. They relocated from another part of the country. It is interesting that prior to 2009 most of the individuals were there because of reason 1. Today most of them are there for reason 2, and following up the rear is reason 3. Let’s take a closer look.

Reason No 1 This new employee can go one of two ways; always looking for a little more money or they have high values and need respect for their supervisors and company. The one that is always looking for a little more money can be weeded out during the interview process and generally will not make it to the lunch. Most, looking for more money, wanted to work for a company where they could advance and therefore earn more. You want persons working for your company who are looking to better themselves. Does your company provide multiple paths for employee growth, and if not how can you provide them?

Next is the lack of respect for their supervisor and/or previous company. I always enjoy delving into the why; very telling of the culture of a competitor company. How many times have you promoted based on seniority rather than competence? This is a common error among firms. “Promote Bill, he’s been with us the longest and deserves it.” Sound familiar? Be certain with this employee that you place them properly. They came to you because of your reputation for good work and values. Don’t let them down. Always promote based on ability, not seniority!

As a side note, we hired several high school students this summer to work in our integrated systems division. Our V.P. of operations asked me a few weeks ago if it was OK to terminate the students because of a poor work ethic. I said no problem, A + P = E (attitude + performance = employment). A few weeks later he came to me and told me the problem was not with the students but with the supervisor we had placed them under. Seems he felt “training” was a little “beneath” him. The moral of the story: What you hear is not necessarily the truth. Always dig a little deeper.

Reason No 2 All too prevalent today. Generally this group liked where they worked and are grateful to have found another position. When I hear my first “I was laid off,” I come back with “Well, this is a new hire luncheon not a layoff luncheon.” This puts most of them at ease. I have found that if your firm treats these individuals with respect and gives them an opportunity to improve their place in life, they will be with you for a long time. As for the terminated ones, you will find they generally do not make it through the interview process and to the lunch. If they do, you may want to dig a little deeper into the reason they were terminated.

If you will only take an hour every 90 days to meet with your new hires, you may learn a lot about who will carry on your mission and protect your reputation.

John Jennings is CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Safeguard.

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