- Workers who are dissimilar to the rest of the teams, particularly when female or older, have more absences over time, a recent study of blue-collar workers found. Women in male-only teams and older employees in younger teams are almost twice as likely to call out, according to a study of 2,711 newcomers in 820 blue-collar teams in a Swiss-based company conducted over seven years by researchers at the University of Konstanz Germany.
- In "Being Different, Being Absent? A Dynamic Perspective on Demographic Dissimilarity and Absenteeism in Blue-Collar Teams," researchers suggested employers could reduce this trend by: (1) involving supervisors and other team members in selecting newcomers because that might make them more sensitive to integrating "demographically dissimilar newcomers and lower the risk of perceptions of negative anchoring events for the newcomers;" (2) striving for smooth transitions for dissimilar employees with mentoring from an experienced team member; and (3) creating an inclusive climate in which diversity training and relationships with supervisors contribute to positive relationships for dissimilar team members.
- However, researchers noted that about 25% of female newcomers did not increase their absences over the study's observation period. "While our theory and results suggest that dissimilar workers," the researchers said, "particularly when being female or old, are on average more absent over time, companies should not expect such increases for all dissimilar individuals."
If done well, onboarding can make a workplace more comfortable for dissimilar employees, leading to less absenteeism, better retention and improved productivity. A Glassdoor report found that a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and improve productivity by more than 70%. Frequent onboarding mistakes include poor communication and lack of recognition. A 2017 Korn Ferry study found that between 10% and 25% of just-hired workers were gone within six months because the job wasn't what they expected. The second reason newcomers cited for leaving an organization was that they disliked the culture.
Strong onboarding can start before an employee shows up at the workplace by, for example, encouraging a new hire's future team to connect with them on LinkedIn to help welcome the employee. Marc Solow, managing director of human capital at Deloitte Consulting, previously told HR Dive that HR can give new hires a mix of self-service and in-person options for completing paperwork, checking in and asking questions because introverts and extroverts may have different preferences. Loni Freeman, vice president of human resources for SSPR found that making the procedural parts of onboarding more entertaining can also put new hires at ease.
In terms of workload for new hires, "sink or swim" may not be the best option. Newcomer workloads can be ramped up over time and teams can be pushed to engage with new hires even in fast-paced industries, Freeman previously told HR Dive.
And while onboarding is, by its nature, a process that belongs to an employee's beginning stages at a company, it need not be limited to a few days or a few weeks. Some experts suggest that onboarding last throughout the new hire's first year.