First impressions count – especially at work. We form subconscious (and conscious) conclusions about our new teammates within minutes. We base these decisions on many things, such as the openness of their face, the set of their jawline, their complexion, and even the tilt of the head. Is the new hire open and friendly, or a bit closed off and evasive?

These subconscious decisions are gut feelings, and there’s a lot more to this gut feeling thing than we ever realized. Once dismissed as insubstantial or a bit folksy, the gut feeling is back in the spotlight because science has discovered a primal connection between the brain and the gut. Only two years ago, scientists in Sweden identified an incredible bundle of nerves called the vegus nerve as the transmitter of gut feelings to the brain. So gut feelings are very real!

Who cares what the new talent thinks?

First impressions makes for a fascinating area of study. The research into this subject has produced hundreds of books, conference sessions, professional papers and more. So it’s surprising then that more human resources professionals don’t pay more attention to this subject. “Oh but they do, especially in interviews,” you say. That’s true, I agree. But I’m talking about from the new talent’s perspective. Who cares about their first impressions? And, more importantly, why should they?

Why you should care

The answer is simple. Every company wants to attract and keep the best possible talent it can. Even when it’s an employers’ market most companies can’t afford to spend time and money recruiting over and over again until they get it right. That kind of activity wastes resources and is disruptive to workflow and team morale.

Evolved organizations know that onboarding isn’t about a one- or two-day orientation. It’s an ongoing process and one that’s a very important part of an organizations’ business plan or corporate strategy. New hires must fulfil many criteria – qualifications, experience, skill set and, of course, a good fit with the team. You also want that new staffer to be enthusiastic and open so that they can absorb your corporate culture easily and integrate quickly. And while we know that almost no-one stays with the same employer for life, an employee will stay in a position for a set period of time if they feel welcomed and valued. This can happen when a culture is healthy and a well-designed, strategic onboarding plan is in place.

A winning culture attracts winners!

Today, without doubt, a positive workplace culture and team spirit play a huge part in attracting new talent. It’s a big draw because people know that in this kind of environment they can get things done and reach goals, even if there is a lot of disruptive change and economic adversity. And they get to feel accepted and appreciated.

Good candidates will research potential employers

Potential new staff members who are worth hiring will spend a fair bit of time researching an organization. They check out company reviews on websites like glassdoor.ca and indeed.ca. If your organization has an unreasonable manager or two, an elite clique that’s impossible to break into, or even a culture of fear, you won’t be able to keep these things under wraps for long; eventually they’ll find their way onto a company review website. When the best talent reads this kind of write-up about your business, they simply won’t be interested in joining your team.

When it comes to their career, an individual will normally give herself three to six months to form that all-important first impression. And if it’s a bad one, you can be sure it will negatively impact things like team morale, productivity, recruitment strategies, and sometimes even an organization’s branding.

Strategic onboarding

To make sure your new recruit is convinced that they’ve joined a great organization, businesses need to rethink how they onboard talent. And a lot of this lies in making employee engagement and internal communication top priorities. These shouldn’t just be HR priorities, but a part of the overall business plan and a part of everyone’s responsibilities.

In our next blog post, we’ll tell you how g[squared] can help you make successful onboarding a priority. We’ll also reveal the best methods to welcome a new employee.