Tender loving care for new hires pays off, authors say

Giving new hires guidance and resources to succeed in their jobs could save federal agencies time and money, according to the authors of a new book.

An effective strategy for onboarding employees includes immersing neophytes in the culture of the new workplace and helping them hit the ground running with specific job assignments, say Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen of Washington-based international strategy consulting firm Kaiser Associates.

The duo, who penned Strategic Onboarding: A Strategy to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization, McGraw-Hill, 2010, talked to federal executives earlier this week at a forum sponsored by the nonprofit Potomac Forum in downtown Washington's Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

The right combination of job assignments and support -- career development tools in particular -- during a new hire's first year can make all the difference, fostering the employees' feelings of personal satisfaction, Stein and Christiansen said. If a new hire is engaged and thoroughly understands her role in the agency, then this likely will boost productivity, the consultants noted. Those types of employees generally are more motivated and tend to offer ideas for improvement, the authors added.

Alluding to the tension that can erupt between tenured employees and "new blood," Stein reminded forum participants that new hires can provide an opportunity for transformation. "These folks can be a force of change," he said.

Stein and Christiansen will lead another discussion on successful onboarding on Oct. 20 through the Potomac Forum.

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