What the Experts Have to Say About the “Sink-Or-Swim” Training Approach

You’ve heard the cliché “sink or swim.” Many times it is associated with taking on a new job. There are all kinds of courageous and inspiring stories about how an executive, when faced with a difficult task, somehow figured it out and won the day. 

But the Harvard Business Review says these stories are not the norm, and the idea of throwing a new employee into a new job to see if they’ll drown is a risky proposition. This is certainly true today when it’s a lot harder to find talent.  

Are You Setting Your Employees up to Drown? 

How would you know if you were creating the right environment for your employees to succeed? Why wouldn’t you want to give them all the tools they need to produce quickly? Given that the cost of new hires far exceeds the cost of retaining current employees, prepping your employees to do the job is important. 

One study sought to quantify the ROI of each new hire. They used a sales team to illustrate the potential of retaining a fully functioning team member long term. They found that if a company improves the onboarding and training process for employees, they begin to produce earlier, yielding a difference of $1.3 million in net revenue-generating potential over three years. 

Another study showed the true cost of losing an employee is up to two times the employee’s annual salary. The cost includes hiring and onboarding and the ramp-up time to true productivity. There is also an ancillary cost to other employees when high turnover impacts their motivation. 

These are all reasons why throwing a new employee into a sink-or-swim situation is not necessarily the best approach. Harvard studied these situations and established a criterion that defines whether your company has a sink or swim culture. Does your organization: 

  • Set new employees up to succeed with an onboarding process? 
  • Pair your new employees up with a mentor to help them understand the culture? 
  • Fail to adequately support new ideas brought in from outside the organization? 
  • Provide executive-level coaching or training for department teams? 
  • Give new hires the technology tools they need along with organizational support so they understand workflows and the stakeholders that can support them? 

The Harvard report concluded that companies with a sink or swim approach often have high failure and turnover rates. When organizations fail to support new hires, , leaving them to sink or swim, they do a disservice to the entire team.  

How Can You Help Your Employees Swim? 

Effectively onboarding new employees, and then giving them the tools they need to succeed is replacing the old school sink-or-swim approach. There is enough research out there to prove that setting employees up to win from the beginning of their tenure has huge benefits for a company. Employees are expected to prove their worth by figuring things out. If they don’t, they sink, which could result in high turnover for the organization.  

Let The Custom Group of Companies set your organization to succeed every time with the right hire for the job. Contact us today

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