How to Retain Employees from Day One

According to employee turnover cost studies compiled by Sasha Corporation, the cost to replace an entry-level employee who quits is $3,500, with estimates for other positions going as high as $25,000! This should provide small-business owners with ample incentive to keep staffers around — starting with the first day on the job.

How you set up the rookie’s first day is critically important to keeping employee turnover down and retention high. In larger companies, the process is called “onboarding,” but the benefits apply to your small business, too. Here’s what a successful welcome gets you:

  • New employees become productive quicker;
  • They get a keen grasp of your mission and values earlier; and
  • Their co-workers appreciate them being able to hit the ground running.

Get started before day one. Let’s say you’ve decided to hire Jane for that open accounting position. In the days following your decision (and before she starts the job), you can communicate with her via email and/or phone to share details about how your business operates and your vision for its future, as well as to answer any initial questions she may have.

Offer a warm welcome. On Jane’s first day, make sure that everything on her desk (telephone, computer, etc.) works and that she has the proper keys and supplies. If you can, greet her in person, but at the very least encourage her new co-workers to introduce themselves and offer a warm welcome. You might even throw her an informal “welcome aboard” party.

Provide information. Have you put together a simple employee handbook covering basic policies and procedures? This should be on Jane’s desk when she arrives. Other things she’ll want to know: computer passwords, names of the people she’ll work with (and their job titles and functions), where the conference room, restroom, and other key facilities are located. The more information she gets up front, the fewer questions she will feel obliged to ask — another way to boost a new employee’s comfort level.

Assign a mentor. Ask a veteran employee to serve as Jane’s mentor during her early days on the job. This mentor can offer answers to “behind-the-scenes” questions that Jane may not want to ask the boss.

Take the new employee to lunch. This is a big one! A new employee should never have to eat lunch alone on her first day. Encourage one or more co-workers to take her out (and tell them you’ll pay), so the “getting to know each other” part gets accelerated.

Get her feet wet. Feeling useful from day one is another great long-term retention tool. What project can Jane get started on right away? Even a small contribution will make her feel productive early on.

Check in and set expectations. At the end of the first day, invite Jane into your office for a chat. Ask how her day has gone, what impressions she’s come away with, and whether she has any concerns you can address. Take this opportunity to talk a little about some short-term goals you both agree on, so she has a good sense of your expectations.

Following a successful first day, Jane will likely go home eager to share her excitement with friends and family. That incidentally heightens your profile as an employer-of-choice, an attractive recruitment tool for future new hires.

About Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning freelance copywriter and editor and a former Senior Writer for Vistage International, a global membership organization of chief executive officers. He writes frequently on issues and challenges faced by U.S. small businesses.
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Great advices/tips you have there! Thank you!

Online business for sale
Online business for sale

If the task is confronted properly, it can drive forward the results of a group and build a amazing workplace. But if it is handled poorly or not at all, it can cause high group income, inadequate career marketing and recruiting charges larger than your income.

Ken Schmitt
Ken Schmitt

Fantastic article! Onboarding is often overlooked in companies both large and small.  I think it is important to mention, however, that the one of the best ways to make sure new employees feel welcome and prepared for success is to hire the right person to being with.  I'm sure this sounds obvious but you'd be surprised the number of people who have not created accurate job descriptions and expectations and have therefore not hired the right person.  


In my experience as the owner of an executive career management and recruiting firm I have learned that before a company can invest in making an employee happy, they need to invest in hiring the right people.  Have a realistic and detailed plan for what the job entails, how success will be measured, what product they are expected to create and how they will be evaluated are the first steps to hiring the right people.  You can have a great "first day lunch" and the best people to welcome the new hire, but if they are expecting the job to look a certain way based on the interview yet are then handed several other hats to wear, they will become dissatisfied and look elsewhere rather quickly.

Ken Schmitt


@brewhouse Hiring at any locations? Masters in Education but not much service experience. :)


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