Unit 1 Paper 1 Schultz 2.16.19

Wait Time Waste in Onboarding New Employees
Calla Schultz
MBA 843 – Introduction to Lean
Professor Joseph Jacobsen
16 February 2019
Waiting time is problematic because it delays the next step in any process, and it is
considered one of the 8 wastes of Lean Management. This can apply to almost anywhere;
someone or something who is waiting is likely not giving or receiving any value. This delay
sometimes affects the end customer, when parts are late for example, but often shows up in
increased costs as the processing time increased because, well, time is money. To have a paying
customer or a widget sitting perfectly still costs the company in some way or the other. One way
that wait time waste permeates companies is throughout the onboarding and new employee
Being a new employee is never easy, but it becomes especially grueling when you show
up at work and do not have the tools to begin your job or don’t have any tasks or value to add.
“In his book “The First 90 Days,” Michael Watkins states that the break-even point, where new
hires add more value than they have consumed, is usually 6.2 months” (Willeyard, 2014). When
a person shows up for his or her first day of work and does not have; computer, network login
information, cell phone, business cards, proper system access, all of these are tangible examples
of time wasted, usually on the phone with IT and little company or manager guidance. I think in
a sense the culture of most companies is that being under utilized in your first few weeks is
normal and to be expected. Paying someone for over 6 months before they begin to add value
should not be taken lightly.
On top of the more measurable waste of not having the things you need to do your job;
many employees have either no responsibilities or are given busy work for their first few weeks
until they “get up to speed”. Furthermore, according to the Aberdeen Group, “86% of new hires
decide to stay or leave a company within their first six months and new employees are 69% more
likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding” (Willeyard,
2014). Collecting a full salary for a few weeks of crunching numbers is unfulfilling to say the
least, and benefits neither the company nor the employee.
If the onboarding process overall was simplified and a little extra work was put in up
front, before the employee even arrives (and starts getting paid), it could eliminate a great deal of
wait time and frustration. After the employee starts, any wait time at all is a financial waste for
the company. Most large companies today have hired plenty of new employees during its
existence, so there is no reason that a full onboarding checklist could not be developed. Perhaps a
general checklist is needed and also by function. Engineering, for example needs specific
software different from that of a new HR manager. General checklist could cover everything that
every full-time employee would need or need to do; laptop, phone, system login, employee ID or
access card. Function-specific checklist could include; having an org chart of your group or
groups which interface with them, specific systems required, training on common systems,
understanding help chains for cross-functional teams. On top of having the checklist, is using it,
and getting started as soon as the new employee signs on, even before their first day of work.
There is no reason any employee should show up and must order their own business
cards, or their own corporate card, cell phone, request the necessary applications, set up touch
bases with their peers. All these things can be organized prior to the employee starting. As soon
as the employee has an email set up, start setting up the meetings they will need for training or
just getting to know the group which they are joining. Having to set up a meeting on your first
day means that that meeting probably doesn’t happen for several days, a week maybe if it is a
busy season. Meeting coworkers means that they will have several contacts to ask questions of,
and not necessarily ask their manager every question.
Having the group prepared will also help eliminate waste, the manager of the onboarding
process should ensure that they have specific time set aside to meet with the new employee and
bring them up to speed. Sure, there are aspects of the job you learn by doing, but there are plenty
of items that would make the new employee understand up front. One in particular that can help
employees ask the right questions and focus on the right things in getting going is understanding
the metrics or performance appraisal process. Ensuring the new employee knows how and how
often he or she will be having performance reviews can eliminate a lot of anxiety on behalf of the
employee (Grote, 2014). Talking through performance first will leave no doubts in the
employee’s mind what is imperative to their job, performance, and company.
If we, as managers and companies know how crucial the first 6 months of employment
are, it would make sense to designate additional resources to making onboarding as efficient and
effective as possible, reducing the time it takes for the employee to provide more value than they
have consumed. Ensuring the first few weeks of the job are productive, and the employee feels
valued, as though preparations were made in advance rather than thrown together at the last
minute. What should be avoided at all costs is a situation when your new employee “goes home
to tell his family about his first day on the job, he would rather have something more exciting to
report than, “I filled out over 30 forms today.” (Grote, 2014). A little proactive work prior to
employee starting can make a big difference for them down the road in terms of satisfaction, and
it can make a big difference for the company to have another valued team member who
contributes his or her share of the work as soon as possible.
Grote, D. (2014, July 23). Making Onboarding Work. Retrieved February 16, 2019, from
Willyard, K. (2014, August 07). Social Tools Can Improve Employee Onboarding. Retrieved
February 16, 2019, from https://hbr.org/2012/12/social-tools-can-improve-e