Mike Gilligan | Protect your investment – the new hire

Mercury Search and Selection’s Mike Gilligan examines how employers can get a new hire on board to a company’s culture

Mike Gilligan Mercury

It is said that almost one in five new hires decide to leave a company within their first week with up to one in three actually leaving within six months. When you consider the cost of an open vacancy, add the cost of recruiting and the cost of training new hires repeating these within six months is a recipe for disaster. So what can be done about it?

The easy answer might be to choose better when hiring. The more fashionable answer is better “on-boarding” and this may be true although it needs to start much sooner than the first day.

Successful on-boarding does in fact start in the hiring process. Yes there is the obvious point about picking the right person but even then you need to start the on-boarding process by setting the scope and level of expectation; for both the employee and the business.

Very often those first week decisions to leave are based on “this is not what they said it would be” or worse “what have I gotten myself into!”. It’s important, therefore, to set realistic expectations. Make sure they know what the situation is, what will be expected of them and what support they will be given.

This of course leads onto those all important first few days. In many companies the on-boarding or induction consists of a site tour, meet and greet and health and safety briefing and little more. Sometimes not even that. Frankly, employers putting so little effort in at this important time shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

So what does good on boarding look like?

First day

Introductions and tour

Health and safety briefing

Company values and culture


First week

Explain role scope and responsibilities

Review current positon – individual and company

Set goals

Assess training needs

Signpost resources

Assign mentor / guide

Agree milestones and regular progress reviews


First Month

At least weekly reviews



Culture and values integration (do they “get” it?)

Compare perspective – do both side agree on current status?

What support do they need?


First six months

Monthly reviews





What next?

I can almost hear the groans about spoon feeding and mollycoddling, but realistically this makes sense even for people in leadership roles. A new hire is a major investment – you wouldn’t make a major capital equipment investment, install it and hope for the best because it’s supposed to be a great piece of kit. Why treat people any different. In fact the most senior the hire the greater the potential cost if it goes wrong.

When highly successful people, who appear to be perfect for a role, fail the obvious assumption is that those responsible for hiring got it wrong. In many cases it could be that with better on-boarding and an appreciation on both sides that integration and understanding of a new hire with their new role and company takes effort. Good communication, a willingness to bridge gaps and change tacks if certain approaches are not working will all contribute to success.

By the time you hire you’ve made the investment, it’s time to make sure you reap the rewards.

Mike Gilligan is managing consultant at Mercury Search & Selection