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Australia's banks are trying to make new recruits feel at home as quickly as possible, for fear of losing them to homelier rivals.

It's known as 'onboarding,' according to Trevor Bradley, regional director of the recruitment firm Chandler Macleod, and is intended to convince new hires they've made the right choice.

How can you tell if you're being onboarded? Bradley says the process is all about integrating new employees into an organisation's culture (so expect to be taken for bonding sessions at the bowling alley), but it's also about developing skills and training, and meeting employees' expectations.

This doesn't mean you'll be promoted within months of joining. It does mean you'll be put on a course to learn about the organisation and establish your strengths and weaknesses. You may even have a chance to say what you want along the way. Richard O'Flynn, of TOM Recruitment, says many major banks have launched 'discovery' programmes, to help integrate new employees. "They all seem to have a nautical or navigation theme," he says.

This being banking, there's a hard-edged rationale behind the softly-softly explorative approach. "They [banks] are all fishing in the same limited pool," Bradley says. "They know the workforce is very mobile and staff are ready to quit or accept another offer if they are not happy."

Chandler Macleod estimates that the cost of losing an employee in their first year of employment is around three times the salary of that employee. That includes hiring, training, and rehiring and retraining costs.

"It's very useful for assimilating people who are not used to working for big organisations. It helps them assimilate quicker, and obtain a quicker return on the investment of hiring that person," he reflects.

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