It’s hard to believe that almost a month of this new year has gone by. Even though the coldest part of the winter season is still yet to come, already we’re beginning to move away from discussions about what our goals and resolutions are for this year, and focusing more on our short-term, day to day lives that have started to settle into 2022 mode.
Looking just over the horizon, we can see that before we know it, spring will be here. Early spring is when many Japanese start new jobs, and so the focus for us is usually on new employee training events. Companies have already started requesting these types of events from us (in fact, a company sent us a request for new employee training for this year back in October of 2021).
So to help teams sift through some of the issues and questions surrounding how to train new hires, in this blog post we’ll be offering our knowledge and advice, based on our years of experience, about new employee training sessions. We’ll discuss why they really are so important and how to go about choosing the right type of event for your new team members.
The benefits of new employee training
1. Prevent rejected job offers, increase retention
According to data from a recruiting analysis and research firm in Japan, the job offer rejection rate for the 2022 Japanese hiring season was around 62.4% as of December 1st, 2021. While this number isn’t that much of an outlier compared to other years, when you take into account the time and cost it takes for companies to find and employ acceptable new recruits, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
The job offer rejection rate is lower now, compared to the period leading up to December, since the countdown to the start of the new employment period has begun. However, this is still a situation that keeps companies on their toes, up to (and even just after) a new employee is hired.
Below are some of the top reasons new hires reject offers just before their employment is set to start:
- New employee training was harsh and unpleasant.
- Dissatisfaction with work location or assigned department.
- Feelings of unease about working for the company.
- Deciding to take another year of school.
- Disapproval from parents.
- Physical illness or incapacity.
On top of this, since 2011, the early resignation rate (resignations that occur within 3 years from the start of employment with a company) of recent graduates rose 32%. This is a major problem, especially for Japanese companies who expend numerous resources to maintain and secure employees in the expectation that they will stay and grow with the company.
Below are some of the top reasons why employees choose to resign early from companies:
- Incompatible work hours, break-time, and/or time off policies.
- Low salary.
- Desire to move up in their career.
- Detriments to physical or mental health.
- Incompatibility or unease with coworkers (including harassment).
- Job mismatch.
- Inability to get better at their job; loss of confidence.
- Disappointment that their skills were not being utilized fully.
The two issues of job rejection and early resignation need to be looked at seriously. Companies can offer excuses all they want about “the kids these days” and how there’s nothing that they can do about it. However, what these issues come down to is a gap between how job applicants perceive companies and what the reality is when they arrive.
In order to narrow this gap and retain new talent and employees that want to grow with the companies they work for, companies and teams need to start looking more seriously at how they train their new employees (more on that soon).
2. Prepare your team to be ready for anything
You can easily find many companies and employers these days that complain about how it’s hard to find perfectly qualified applicants. But what these companies should be focusing on is training new employees and nurturing new talent. Yes, it’s true that applicants should be hired based on demonstrated skills and knowledge. However, what many companies often want is employees who are prepared for anything on day one. This is a rare quality in new hires, especially those who have recently graduated.
Helping new employees gain the skills and strengths to face whatever challenges are thrown their way takes training, patience and encouragement, particularly in the beginning. Which is one of the main reasons why new employee training is so beneficial. It creates a lasting, nurturing foundation for future development. It will also help retain employees long-term, and keep them from burning out too quickly.
The Main Goals of New Employee Training
1. Ease anxiety
There’s a lot of anxiety that comes from entering a new workplace. This is especially true for new graduates, who haven’t ever worked in a professional setting before. Often this anxiety comes from not really knowing what to expect. But this is true on the company-side as well. New employee training is a good way for employees and companies to get to know each other better.
New employees can gain a deeper understanding of the company and the culture that they’ll be working in. Companies, too, can gain a better picture of the employee they just hired, and the skills and talents they bring to the table. They begin to fashion together a real relationship, and a course of development whereby both the company and employee will benefit. Again, this is much easier to do in the beginning, when you can establish a strong foundation, rather than later when patterns have already developed and impressions formed.
2. Motivate your new team members
Remember that when you bring in new employees you are welcoming them into your team. New employee training helps to give new hires this sense of being part of something larger than themselves, with admirable goals and visions. And it should develop a realization that they are now a team of people working together to accomplish things and succeed. This can empower your new employees by giving them an awareness that they are not alone, and that they have support.
But in order to get people to really fight for you, you have to show them you care and that they are valued. As we’ve discussed in this blog before, these are fundamental aspects of trust and psychological safety. In a world where employees won’t necessarily stick around for life, and are always looking for a better place to go, building mutual trust through valuing and supporting employees is essential. From there, motivation will naturally emerge.
3. Educate your new employees about how to work in your company
New employee training is about showing your new team members the skills they need to succeed in your company. This includes things like office culture, what to look out for, what to expect. You should show them what it’s really like to work there, so they won’t be thrown for a loop. Even little details that you might not feel are that important may help new employees build a better mental image of what your company is really like.
Which in turn will help them imagine their own place within that company, and how they will fit in. Really preparing your new employees will give them more confidence to take on tasks, and to know who to ask for support.
How to decide what to do for your new employee training event
1. Set your goal for the event
You can have multiple goals for your event, or you can plan multiple events or sessions with different goals. But your goals should be clearly determined beforehand, and should be based on your company and new employees’ needs.
Your goal could be to communicate expectations or learn about each other’s hopes and visions. It could be to increase teamwork, learn practical business skills, decrease anxiety. Whatever goal you choose, it should be the basis from which the rest of the event flows.
Also, once you have established your goal, you can choose a game or activity that connects to it. This will help reinforce what you’re trying to instill in a fun and engaging way.
2. Choose how you want to host the event (in-person, online, hybrid, etc.)
The world has changed a lot, and there’s now lot’s of different ways to host new employee training events. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately you should choose the one that best fits your needs and that best represents the direction your company is going in.
In-person events obviously create closer contact between team members much more easily. But remote work is becoming more normalized, so you may want to impart those skills to your team as well. Plus, online events are easier to plan and host, and employees from all over the country (or the world) can participate. Hybrid offers a good balance between the two and, like online, it represents a new type of working style that you might want to explore.
3. Determine the schedule and volume of sessions
Like we said, in your new employee training you want to give new hires a full image of your company. However, you also need to balance this with the time you have and determine a schedule that doesn’t overload your new team members. Remember that many of them are graduating, and so they will be busy with part-time jobs, finishing their papers, moving, or making other life adjustments.
Our recommendations for some new employee training programs
Now we’ll get into some more practical advice about how to shape your new employee training events. These are based on our years of experience in planning activities for these types of events and working with clients.
1. Business foundations training
This kind of training focuses on practical business and office skills. You can invite an external lecturer to give more detailed and summarized information about general work practices, but make sure you also explain the inner workings of your own business, and talk about how the different departments or teams work and interact. Hopefully, this will also give recently graduated new employees the awareness that work and university are very different.
2. Panel session/round table discussion
A question and answer panel or discussion session can allow for more mutual communication between companies and new employees, and can help relieve a lot of anxiety and tension. This can also be a great chance for new employees to interact and ask questions of more veteran employees who they’ll be working with. Giving them a profile of the veteran coworker who is coming to meet them can help them come up with more targeted questions. If you can, try not to have any topics that are off the table. Let new employees ask the questions they have, no matter what. This will build trust, and will create a psychologically safe space for your new team members.
3. Presentation activity
Divide the new employees into teams and have them give a short, five-minute presentation. The topic can be something random that you give them, or it can be a “PR” presentation about a product or service that your company sells. This activity will demonstrate how the new employees think and work together, and will give them the opportunity to learn more about each other and show the skills and talents that they have. If you are having them present a company product, it will help new employees learn more about the company
4. Online Team Building Game (Tabitantei, Secret Agent)
Invite Japan has two online team building games available. Both these games are puzzle-based, fun activities that encourage teamwork and communication. They also make great additions to new employee training programs, either as jump-off points for discussions about communication or teamwork or as ice breaker activities that help break up information sessions. Inviting other company members to join can help you whole team get to know each other better.
These games are also great for remote teams. They can be played from home, so planning an event for new remote hires becomes much easier and less costly. Plus, it will get your new remote to feel more included and part of the team.
5. Dispatch activity (Suitcase Mystery)
Invite Japan also offers an in-person game that comes to your office or conference room (or wherever you are hosting your event). Suitcase Mystery features a number of consecutive challenges, all contained in one suitcase.
This game has been highly popular for new employees and events. The fun and mysterious challenges draw shy team members out and get participants talking and interacting with each other. Employers also get to see how new employees think and make decisions.
New employee training events are a chance to create a strong relationship based on trust with your new hires, right from the start. They are crucial ways for you to communicate your companies’ values, goals, and culture to your new employees. And it is a way for both you and your new employees to communicate your expectations to each other. Don’t just keep doing what you’ve done before, or what all the other companies are doing, if it isn’t leading to healthy and strong teams. And don’t just assume that new employees will follow you wherever you take them, even if you give them no support.
Put thought and effort into your new employee events. Show you value them and care about them, and give them the tools to succeed with you, as trusted colleagues, and they will be motivated to give everything they have.