At this point, our schools have adjusted to operating in a post-lockdown world, and our enrollment rates are finally increasing and getting back to normal. But to accommodate our new enrollments, many of us are now on the hunt for quality new hires as well. In some markets, finding qualified candidates that are a strong culture fit can be challenging, so when we do find them we need to make sure that we do everything that we can to keep them and show them how much we value and appreciate them for choosing our school to work at.
In some cases, we don’t express to our staff how valuable and appreciated they are until they begin to show signs of being unhappy, but usually, by then it is too late to catch up on doing so and they have already mentally checked are and are no longer emotionally invested in your business.
Instead of waiting until an issue arises or you are left reflecting on what you could have done differently to prevent your A and B-players from leaving, start showing your new hires some love right away during their onboarding process. Let them know that you are excited for them to be a part of your school family and set them up for success from day one.
To help you accomplish this during your onboarding process and get your new hires bought into your school, I have compiled a list of ten steps that you can take to excite your new hires upon accepting their job offer that will decrease their turnover rates.
1. Make It a Big Announcement
You’ve just hired an amazing addition to your team, don’t keep it a secret! Announce it to the world – minimally inform your staff and your families. Create a little flier, bulletin board announcement, or email to inform everyone and include a little bit of information about your newbie such as who he/she is, their position, what set them apart from the rest that pushed you to hire them, what makes them qualified, and a fun fact or two about them.
And make sure to personally introduce them to everyone on your team – they’re already filled with new hire nerves, don’t leave them feeling stressed about how to break the ice with everyone. To take this fun a step further, you could welcome them to your school family by throwing them a lunchtime party or after school snack time huddle where they will have an opportunity to meet most of your team.
2. Stay in Contact Between Their Hire Date to Start Date
Use this time between their hire date and their actual start date to get them excited and looking forward to their first day working for you. Start building a relationship with them through regular communication and setting them up for success. Send them any necessary paperwork that they need to fill out to work at your school so they can get that checked off of their new hire orientation list before they even walk in the door (everyone loves to get ahead if they can) so they can dive into the fun stuff. Ask them to fill out a “Favorites” list – a list of their favorite things, such as favorite snack, favorite candy, favorite non-alcoholic beverage, favorite flower, etc – and have them send it back to you before their start date so you can welcome them with a special, personalized surprise on their first day. You should also send them friendly notes leading up to their first day, such as, “Enjoy your weekend! Can’t wait to see you on Monday,” or “I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far, everyone is looking forward to meeting you on Thursday!” Letting them know that you are genuinely happy that they will be joining you will discourage any negative talk they have with themselves about bailing and will put them in a positive mindset.
3. Let Them Know Who’s Who
Don’t leave them wondering who they report to or go to for questions and issues with (things can quickly get messy that way). Provide them with an organization chart of who is who to show them the formal chain of hierarchies. And in case your new hire isn’t too good at remembering names the first time they meet someone, it’s a good idea to include a picture of the person next to their name on the organization chart.
4. Let Them In on the Informal Organization Chart
Your organization chart clearly states who is the owner, director, lead teachers, classroom teachers, and etc, but what it doesn’t clearly state is who is usually in charge of your holiday concert, who are the ones that are always willing to help people, the gatekeepers, and who has more experience in what areas. If you can, try to provide your newbie with a little bit of an inside scoop on how the day-to-day runs in your school and who can best advise them in different situations and areas.
5. Familiarize Them with Your Jargon
I’ve yet to find a company that doesn’t have their own type of language and jargon that only they understand. Whether it’s pesky acronyms that are used (but can’t always be explained) or inside jokes and phrases, let your newbie in on the lingo and “secret code” in your school. You could even create a short translation dictionary to give to them on their first day that will help them learn your language and give them some background knowledge to your inside jokes so they can join in on the laughter (and not worry whether or not it’s an inside joke that is being directed at them!).
6. Verify or Debunk Myths and Legends
Depending on where you are located, sometimes word of mouth can spread all over town. Highlight any positive publicity that your school has received and let them in on the history of your school and how things have come to be what they are. Debunk any negative stories that have ever been around town about your school and any negative reviews that have been left online by angry parents.
7. Review Core Values
Reviewing your school’s core values with your new hires and setting expectations according to them is an absolute must. Not only will this give them a set of guidelines to adhere to, but it will also help you to quickly see if their work ethic and personality are a good culture fit for your school.
8. Show Them How Fun It Is to Work In Your School
The first few days can be overwhelming for your new hire, and can also be overwhelming for the person training them as well. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the big picture stuff that the little, yet important, things can quickly become lost – for example, which number is needed to dial an outside line, how to use the photocopier, where the restrooms are, how lunch breaks are rotated, etc. I suggest that so nothing goes forgotten, you survey your current employees and ask them to write down the top three things they wish they would have been told during their onboarding process, and then compile those into a “new hire survivors guide” and provide it during your welcome orientation.
9. Spend Time with Them
Whether it’s with the owner or the director, a special one-on-one lunch or early morning breakfast to get to know each other will go a long way with your new hire. They will feel important, wanted, and become comfortable and acclimated quicker. During your one-on-one time you could ask them about any fun arts and craft ideas that they would like to do, talk about their hobbies and interests, or just talk about pop culture – whatever it is, keep it lighthearted and easy going.
10. Celebrate & Feature Your Teachers Often
In my school, we are always thinking of new ways that we can incorporate our core values to have fun as a team! Show your new hire photos of past fun team building activities or days in the classroom. Shortly after your new hire arrives, host a themed lunch, team spirit day, or team building activity night so they can see that you’re not just all talk and that your team really does know how to have fun!