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Onboarding Dysfunction

Onboarding and Orientation or Probationary period policies vary greatly by company. Company policies range from no real difference between new hires and long-term employees to stringent attendance and performance policies that only apply to employees in their first 30, 60 or 90 days.

Our newest HR Generalist, Brad Smith, worked onsite at a large financial institution, in conjunction with a well-known staffing agency. His primary focus was on recruiting temporary workers that were paid just over minimum wage for the tax season.

How NOT to onboard
“One of the biggest things I learned while I was there was how to properly onboard and retain talent through a program that was doing it completely backwards,” Brad stated. “There were a multitude of issues with the policies in place and the most significant was the strictness of the attendance policy for employees still in their probationary period. If a new employee had even a single absence or tardy within the first 30 days, he was terminated!”

This policy had almost no exceptions, even for legitimate medical issues. In one instance, an employee left her shift early to go to the emergency room and she was terminated as a result!

A mission made impossible
The main problem with an overly strict policy is that it is impossible to enforce on a variety of levels. Here are a few of the main problems Brad found while working at his previous employer:

1. Consistency – Many managers gave exceptions to candidates they liked, or those that were young. These exceptions are dangerous and could open up the employer to a variety of lawsuits.

2. Realism – The policy was enforced despite unreasonable conditions, such as insanely heavy snow conditions. Despite the fact that many workers could not get out of their driveway and half the staff was late, the no tolerance policy was enforced and the staffing agency was forced to lay off multiple new workers. This is an example of an employer “driving your own turnover.”

3. Morale – It is very difficult to foster a positive work environment when every employee is one flat tire, one missed alarm clock, or one stomach bug away from termination.

Make it possible
EctoHR is one of many companies that knows there are multitudes of reasons for an employee to be absent in the first 30 days of employment. While absences should be discouraged, there are things that are out of an employee’s control. EctoHR advises its clients to look for patterns and to consider the facts for each employee. While consistency is often a commonly-sited goal for HR professionals, it is not an end in itself.

• Make your probation and attendance policies firm, but fair. A “Common Sense Policy” is always best.

• Enforce policies for your staff “at-large” versus having policies that have a significant disparate impact on new employees.

• If your company has high turnover due to your hiring or onboarding policies, MAKE CHANGES!

• Solicit feedback from your top performing employees to see what they think are fair policies.

For support with developing and implementing your Company’s policies, contact Brad or another HR Professional at EctoHR, Inc. today at 810.534.0170 or

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