Successful Staff Onboarding: Nurturing Retention from Day One

Successful Staff Onboarding: Nurturing Retention from Day One
Electronic Security Association — March 11, 2024

Hiring, onboarding, and retaining new employees is a pain point that many security companies continue to wrestle with. In fact, many say that the Number One challenge facing the industry is finding and holding onto talent. This topic was tackled in a recent ESA educational session entitled Successful Ways to Onboard Staff. Led by Steve Firestone, CEO of Firestone Strategies, and Jeremy Bates, President of Bates Security, the presentation was packed with many insightful takeaways for attendees. Here we highlight some of those key insights that can help make the hiring process much more productive and effective. Bates points out that a successful onboarding process should start prior to the employee’s first day at work.  “To ensure a successful hiring process, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the job role you are looking to fill,” he says. “When interviewing potential candidates, it is crucial to communicate the role’s requirements and expectations clearly.”

And, as Firestone adds, “I’m a firm believer that the most important thing any leader of an organization can do is to make sure that they are hiring the right people that fit their organization’s culture.”

An effective way to do this is to hire through the lens of your company’s core values. Bates explains, “Successful onboarding begins before the hiring – the culture and core values. What’s important to successful onboarding is to have a healthy company culture. You don’t want to bring somebody into a non-motivational company. These shouldn’t be aspirational; these should be things that you actually live and breathe and talk the talk and walk the walk.”

“You want to make sure you have core values that you’re talking about from day one with a potential hire. Hopefully, your company has core values, and you and your team are operating based on them. This is important because you want to be talking about your core values during the interview and then be asking questions designed to help make sure they fit with your core values and your culture,” Bates emphasizes. “It’s also very important to clearly define the responsibilities of the position. You want to attract the right person to the right seat; so be sure you’re asking the right questions to find the right person for the right seat so you can enable that person for success.” As Firestone echoes, good onboarding begins with quality hiring.

Once the hiring decision has been made and the candidate has accepted the position, there are some processes that can be followed to ensure continued successful onboarding.

First impressions are often lasting impressions. And just as candidates concern themselves with making a good first impression on their job interview, so, too, should employers be concerned about making a good first impression when the new hire reports for duty, especially their first day on the job. Often, however, many new employees report for duty with anticipation only to discover that their employer hasn’t really prepared adequately to welcome them. Perhaps their manager is in a meeting and the new hire is put at a desk only to wait awkwardly with nothing to do for someone to acclimate them. Or perhaps it’s a busy time and they are baptized by fire, being asked to work on something they haven’t yet been familiarized with. Well thought-out onboarding eliminates those serious mistakes – mistakes that can leave your new hire with a bad taste in their mouth wondering if they accepted the wrong job offer.

Both Bates and Firestone have implemented processes that make the new hire feel welcome as a new team member. It all begins with being prepared for the new employee’s arrival. This phase of Bates Security Onboarding looks like this:


Before The First Day:

All Paperwork Completed
Welcome Letter
“Meet the Employee” Profile Email Workspace Ready to Go


Your First Day Goals:

Give Strong Overview of The Company
Not just what their position is
How we all work together


Show We Are Organized and Ready for Them:

They are Important
Written Agenda
Make a Good Impression


The First Day Presentations:

Give Overview of Each Department’s Responsibilities
What that Department Does for the Customer


Senior Leadership Presentation:

Overview of Company
Services Review
Branches Review – Locations,
Description, Local Team, Etc.
Organizational Chart
Our History & Milestones
Our Culture
Company Vision: Core Values
and Core Focus, Plus Other
Components Defining Bates

Firestone, when he served as President of Select Security, implemented these procedures to onboard new employees after the hire: Providing them with a Welcome Video that detailed what they could expect on their first day, where to go and what to do, what they needed to bring, and things they could do to help them get settled. In addition, new employees were provided with a welcome box, branded swag, photo badges, Day One agendas, desk and technology setup, business cards and collateral, and a Welcome card from the team.

As Firestone points out, “Onboarding is not job training. My experience is that the most effective onboarding is one where senior leadership takes ownership of the onboarding process and are actively engaged. An organization can only achieve the desired status of becoming a compelling place to work if the employees trust leadership, and leadership trusts the employees. So, while onboarding should include an overview of how the company does business, how they make money, how they are different from the competition, what individual departments do and who are the key contacts for the new employee and other tactical related topics, the real key is setting up a sense of trust in leadership. I’m convinced that the CEO or President of the organization should spend several hours with a class of new employees, across disciplines, to explain where the company has succeeded and failed and what the roadmap for the future looks like. I’m also a strong believer that the leaders should be vulnerable and transparent in explaining what’s important to them, what they stand for, and where they have had personal successes and failures so that employees understand this is a real person who is leading the organization.”

He adds that it’s also critically important for leadership to share the metrics that are used to measure the success of the organization with all the employees, including those who are going through onboarding. Too many times, he believes, leadership thinks that employees understand why decisions are made. “Unfortunately, without a full understanding of what is important to management and leadership, employees will try and figure it out on their own. There’s no better time to provide that information to employees than when they are going through onboarding.”

Bates concluded that it’s important to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities that come with the position you are hiring for, particularly if it is a new role within your organization. The more you can align expectations and define what is expected of your new hire, from their very first day, the more likely they are to succeed in their role.

“When you hire someone to work at your company, you have to make two decisions. The first is that you need the position you are hiring them for and the second is you have decided they are the person that is the best fit for the position. So why would you not do everything you can to successfully onboard your new hire and lay the right groundwork to help them to be successful at their job? A well-planned and executed on-boarding will pay you dividends over the long-term.”