The importance of early feedback for new employees

To ensure that your processes in recruiting, onboarding,and accelerating new team members into the organization are having the desired effect, it’s critical to get candid, data-driven, and early feedback.

Giving and soliciting this type of feedback is the best way to ensure your investment in the employee experience is paying off and driving company ROI.

Recruitment and onboarding are key processes: get them right the first time and you save yourself the expense of repeating them a few months down the line. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that 86 percent of employees decide whether to stay or go within their first six months.

Read on to learn why early feedback supports new hire success and how to best implement an efficient and scalable process.

Why early feedback is important

Feedback6The myriad of benefits that accompany providing early feedback can be grouped into two core outcomes.

First, it drives new employee proficiency, helping them become net contributors faster. Second, it significantly decreases the chances of new hire failure, lowering turnover and improving retention rates.

Each of these positives links back to company ROI – by investing in driving a great employee experience, you enable new hires to be more successful and increase their chances of staying with your organization longer.

What are the outcomes of early feedback?

1. Makes them feel valued

Put simply, people like to feel that they and their opinion are worth something. Taking the time to invest in them by communicating how they’ve done so far can go a long way toward their sense of worth within the company.

Gallup reports that only 45 percent of employees are ‘completely satisfied’ with the amount of recognition they receive. Whether in person or by sending praise via a tool such as Small Improvements, your employees will feel valued when their accomplishments are celebrated. 

2. Supports an open and honest culture

If new starters feel that their colleagues and management will be honest with them, they are much more likely to respond in the same way. Such an open and transparent culture can only be beneficial for your company.

3. Accelerates new hire productivity

As much as you can try to put everything in place to support them, the majority of the responsibility for any employee’s development lies within themselves.

They’ll want to progress. To do that, they’ll need to know what they’re doing well and what could be better. Being praised for their efforts, and having the road ahead mapped out, allows your employees to tackle the next stage of assimilation into your company’s culture with renewed enthusiasm.

Best practices for delivering early feedback

Having recognized its importance, how do you implement an early feedback mechanism to reap the rewards?  We believe that there are six simple steps.

1. Improve your onboarding process

An individual new starter who still can’t submit their timesheet or access their benefits
policy after four weeks with the company likely needs their own extra bit of training. But, if half a dozen have recently had the same problem, perhaps they’re not being introduced to the system well enough?

Shortcomings in employee performance may be a sign of holes in your employee onboarding program.

Feedback5Do you help them see the big picture of where their efforts fit in? Have all the onboarding workflows been completed so they have everything they need to do their job?  Is their onboarding roadmap clear?

Performance feedback solutions, like Small Improvements, allow you to define the objectives and goals essential to an employee’s success while providing a platform to communicate around those.

Whatever gaps you discover, be sure to act on it: this was the third most popular initiative to reduce turnover, according to a CareerBuilder study; just ahead of it was increased recognition, which you can achieve through positive feedback.

2. Sharpen your communication

The benefits need not stop with the employees whose performance is being appraised – the managers and colleagues involved in the process will also benefit from the chance to have their say and articulate clearly the sort of feedback that can have great value on a day-to-day basis.   

Use specific examples that help employees identify the behaviors you’ve just pointed out and be held accountable for them. Allow them to respond to the feedback and suggest ways they might work to improve it.

3. Get the timing right

The setting and timing of feedback delivery are critical. A relaxed coffee break with a new hire in front of their peers may not be the time to point out that they still haven’t closed a deal or progressed with their training.

The level of formality will obviously depend on your company’s culture, but ensure the feedback is given in such a manner that it can be taken seriously and discussed there and then. Having said that, don’t delay: look to give feedback as quickly as possible after any relevant triggers.

If it’s improvements on their performance for a specific task, arrange a session soon after its completion so that the details are still fresh in their memory.

4. Make feedback a two-way process

Allowing new hires a chance to respond to each point may help you to uncover the reasons behind their struggles. Is their low productivity due to a shortage of resources or can their timekeeping be attributed to a slow bus service for which you could know a great alternative?

This will also let you make sure that they’ve understood the feedback and how to move forward from it.

5. Deliver positive and constructive comments

There are several psychological factors at play here.

FeedbackFirst, positive feedback is a motivational tool. In the book How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, they found that the “number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.” In fact, 65 percent of the employees surveyed said they received no recognition whatsoever for the good work they did the previous year.

Second, delivering positive feedback first helps to balance the constructive points to follow. Avoid linking the two – they should be delivered sequentially but separately. Use your constructive comments to point out behaviors that could be improved upon, rather than personal traits.

6. Do it often

The best way to provide feedback is in small, easily-actionable chunks. The more often you engage in discussions, the more comfortable each party will feel and the more productive your feedback will become. With the millennial generation taking over the workforce, there is increasing pressure to provide more frequent and actionable feedback.

Why? According to Harvard Business Review, millennials want feedback 50 percent more often than other employees. Putting a continuous feedback process in place will meet this need and result in happier, more productive, employees.

Summing up

The benefits of giving early employee feedback are numerous, though they all tie into the same key aim of driving ROI and strengthening employee engagement.

Make feedback a regular, constructive and motivational part of your company culture that sets up new employees for success.

Andrew Crebar

Andy Crebar is a Co-Founder of Sapling, which helps companies use Employee Onboarding to amplify their total Employee Experience (‘EX’). He is passionate about self-improvement and supporting everyone to be their best.