Recruitment and selection are expensive propositions and we typically only select about 3% of those that apply with Talent Plus. After all of that work and effort, we want to welcome new associates with a warm welcome and make them feel that they are part of our family.

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I grew up in a home that heartily welcomed visitors. My parents were both warm and thoughtful to guests. That warm welcome was familiar to me when I met legendary hospitality leader Horst Schulze and I learned that that was an important expression of values at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company that he founded nearly 25 years ago.

Greet new employees, customers, guests with a warm welcome. Our new associates feel that warm welcome. We offer an extensive orientation that begins as their “Great Take Off Day.” We try to onboard all new associates once a month, having them all begin on the same day. New associates are introduced to the organization during FormationSM at 9:30 a.m. (a 15 minute daily gathering led by an associate).

Following Formation, new associates participate in a Focus on You ® with members of the Board of Directors and Operations Team. Whether a college development student or a new leader, all are onboarded in the same manner. This puts all new associates on an even path with our leaders. The rest of the day is spent meeting members of their business unit, and getting acclimated to our culture. Day One ends with a hospitality hour where associates begin gathering at 4:30 p.m., new associates’ families are welcomed and the leader of the new associate’s business team reads the individual’s Talent Card ® (an affirmation of the individual’s talents and strengths that is personalized for every new associate which is an outcome expressed from their selection interview) to the group assembled.

This is a very relaxing environment and new associates have an opportunity to introduce their family to the individuals they will be working with and their family members have an opportunity to see when they will be working. This is especially meaningful to the children of our associates. They can envision where their parent will be working.

The subsequent 30 days is a learning phase. New associates have the opportunity to go to several different Talent Plus Learning Academy ® courses - a mix of in-person and online sessions - which assist in learning more about the foundation of Talent Plus. As well, all new associates are certified in interviews, The Science of Talent so that they are familiar with our aptitude and assessment science – this is a core value that everyone be able to conduct an interview – whether in person or on the phone. It’s the core of what we do and provides a critical understanding for all associates – regardless of their role.

Those first 30 days are also spent getting to know the individuals in their business unit through individual meetings and through group Focus on You relationship-building activities. We select high performers and they are anxious to get started in their new role, but we believe we only have these opportunities for critical learning at the beginning of an employee’s lifecycle with us – before they become very involved in their adding value to our culture.

Everything at Talent Plus is predicated on relationships. Associates are selected for this talent and readily get to know one another. Having onsite dining opportunities furthers this (tables have seating for eight). Guests and new associates always ask, “How do you know where to sit once you have your lunch?” Unlike many cultures, where individuals tend to sit at the same table each day with the same people – we look for the table where people have the same amount of food on their plate and they are at a similar point in their meal that you will be. That way the table is on the “same page” and individuals aren’t seated alone while they finish eating. In this way, the dynamics at tables are different each day and associates get to know one another very quickly.

A new Talent Plus associate’s journey begins to merge with others in our organization as there are daily opportunities for learning through Formation, Lunch and Learns, business unit meetings, social responsibility and wellness team offerings, client presentations, new product offerings and the Plus Program, as well as external training opportunities.

It all starts with that warm welcome, Maya Angelou said, “You’ll forget what someone says to you but you’ll never forget how they made you feel . . . .” We believe that opening moment with a new associate is critical and that every day after that is a step toward continually reengaging and emotionally rehiring your best. What are you doing in your culture to provide a warm welcome and continually reengage your associates? I’m always looking for new ideas to integrate in our culture and would love to hear from you.

This post is the fifth in a series intended to highlight the dimensions judged by Great Place to Work. Talent Plus is honored to be a four time consecutive award winner ranked in the top ten and listed as #4 for 2014 in Fortune Magazine.

Kimberly Rath
Co-Chairman and Co-Founder
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