A Flood of New Hires: How to Develop Inexperienced Employees
Over the past year, many millions of Americans have quit their jobs during the Great Resignation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But unemployment rates are still low. That’s because most of the people who quit didn’t just disappear from the workforce—many of them moved on to new, better opportunities.
What do all these green employees—often in new industries—mean for you as an HR pro? Read on to find out.
New Hires in the Wake of the Great Resignation
According to the Wall Street Journal, in July of this year, the unemployment rate in the U.S. fell to just 3.5%—the lowest it’s been in about 50 years—and the labor market has recouped most of the 22 million jobs lost in the early pandemic. While a substantial contributor to the Great Resignation was late-career Americans retiring early, for the most part, hire rates are matching or exceeding quit rates.
So why are so many industries still feeling the pain of short staffing, and why are cries that “Nobody wants to work anymore” trending? Perhaps because many who quit during the Great Resignation did so not to stop working altogether, but to leverage the hot job market for opportunities to work in better conditions.
The highest turnover and quit rates remain in industries such as food service and retail, often in jobs with low wages, long shifts, and unpredictable schedules. Thousands of employees left these positions to accept roles with higher pay, more reliable hours, and better benefits, which means many of them are likely appearing at your organization as new hires. These “green” employees have a ton to offer, but you’ll need a strategic plan to onboard and train them effectively.
Challenges of Inexperienced New Hires
When you look around your organization and see lots of new faces, it can be a sign of growth and potential, but there are also several potential roadblocks HR should consider. Unseasoned teams can lead to the following challenges:
- Increased errors. The Wall Street Journal cites several anecdotes ranging from nurses who have never worked with a live patient to inexperienced air traffic control workers letting one plane clip another on the runway. When most of your employees are new, the possibility of mistakes is multiplied.
- Loss of generational knowledge. Every organization has that employee who’s been around for years and seems to know everything. But if turnover rates are high enough, eventually you don’t have employees who’ve been around long enough to pass on company wisdom.
- Decreased productivity. With new hires coming in frequently, even your employees with longer tenures will lose some productivity. Coaching and training new hires takes time, and their other projects are likely to suffer.
How HR Can Help New Hires Thrive
In the big picture, having unseasoned employees on your teams can be a huge advantage. Workers coming to your organization from other industries can offer a fresh perspective on your processes. They also often have experience in high-stress or fast-paced environments (like food service, for example), which can make them hard-working, persistent, and adaptable.
But new hires are also most likely to quit, with turnover as high as 50% in the first year. So it’s important to be intentional about how you onboard and train them—especially when you have a high percentage of “green” employees at the same time. Follow these steps to help new hires thrive and start contributing to your organization’s goals faster.
- Set expectations. We recommend creating a “30-60-90 plan” for all new hires that outlines what’s expected of them in the first three months on the job. Setting clear expectations right away can help you ease new hires into their positions smoothly and set them up for success in the crucial first months with your organization.
- Be receptive to feedback. You only get the advantages of new hires’ fresh perspectives if you’re actually willing to consider what they say. Include a section in your culture guide that outlines how employees should present their ideas so new hires know their voices will be heard.
- Take care of seasoned employees. With so much attention paid to new hires, your more experienced workers can feel like they’ve been cast aside—especially if the newer employees are getting flashy compensation packages with big salary bumps or signing bonuses. This pay compression can be toxic to your culture, and if you don’t find tangible ways to support existing employees, you risk even higher turnover rates as they leave to find appreciation with other employers.
- Be patient. Onboarding and training new hires is a process, and adjusting to a team with a lot of new members takes time. Be patient with green employees as they learn, and with more seasoned employees as they balance their existing responsibilities with coaching their new team members.
Navigating a largely unseasoned workforce can be challenging, and it will take a commitment from HR, management, and the employees themselves to make the transition effective. But if you’re willing to invest the necessary time and resources in them, these green employers can help elevate your organization and make it a great place to work.
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