Training Trends: Implementing the 'Rule of Six' to increase new-hire retention

You don’t get a second chance with a new hire. They’re deciding—from the minute they walk in the door the first time for their first shift—whether your job is right for them. Taking the time to plan the critical milestones of the “Rule of Six” can enhance the onboarding process and significantly impact employee retention.

The First Six Seconds

The first few moments set the tone for a new hire’s entire tenure. Have an organized approach from even before the minute they walk in the door. Plan to be present at their point of entry at least 10 minutes before their scheduled arrival time. Greeting them with a handshake, fist bump or high-five establishes a personal connection and shows that you are excited to see them.

The First Six Minutes

Take this time to address immediate concerns. Instead of taking them into a room and delving into the company's history, focus on practical matters such as the location of facilities, employee entrance, office space, and basic amenities. Offering a beverage, such as water or coffee, helps ease nerves and gives new employees something to occupy themselves with during these initial moments. If they don’t have an office, offer a secure space to put their personal belongings. 

The First Six Hours

Here, the formal orientation process begins. Remember that a new hire doesn’t really care how nice your PowerPoint is; that’s not what’s important to them! Give a guided tour of the workplace, including key areas relevant to the new hire. On the tour, share humorous anecdotes (such as celebrities who may have patronized your workplace) and engaging stories about the company's history to make the conversation more memorable and enjoyable.

It's also crucial to schedule intentional meetings to introduce them to people, discuss expectations, talk about communication preferences (such as how to request time off), and general work-related procedures. Additionally, having their name tag and uniform ready, and gifting a branded item or company swag reinforces that the organization is excited about their presence.

At the end of their first day, make sure that you're connected. Even if you're not leading all of the activities, you as the leader are coming back to the new hire, thanking them for being there, and expressing anticipation to see them again on their next shift. 

The First Six Days

Now, we emphasize structured training with key people. Assign a designated trainer and use checklists to ensure a systematic approach. Daily check-ins and touchpoints from you as the leader provides continuous support and reinforcement during this crucial period. Gather feedback to revisit and refine training programs to address individual needs.

The First Six Months

This stage can secure long-term retention beyond the critical first year. Schedule monthly check-ins with you or other managers, internal evaluations and opportunities for growth and feedback to help new employees feel supported and valued in an ongoing way. 

We all have a tendency to overlook these seemingly basic steps in the hustle of everyday tasks. The simplicity of the Rule of Six does not diminish its significance. Using this structured and thoughtful approach to onboarding maximizes the milestone moments that shape an employee's perception and commitment to an organization. By following these guidelines, you too can create an environment where new hires feel valued, supported and motivated to contribute their best to the team.

Kate Stiteler, CHT, is the corporate director of training for Sonesta Hotels. She is an active member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers. She can be reached at [email protected].