The Risks with New Employees and What to Do About Them?

factory workers training new employee

“Statistics don’t lie,” they say, “people do.” So, rather than listening to me tell you how dangerous it is to be a new employee, let’s see what the statistics say. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new workers are five times more likely to be injured on the job than their more experienced counterparts. 40% of all injuries involve people who have been on the job for less than one year and, in fact, one in eight injuries happen on an employee’s first day. Clearly, this is a problem. So, why is it happening and how do we fix it?

Let’s start with the “Why?” Most likely there wasn’t a single person who read that first paragraph and was left dumbfounded. The idea that new workers are more likely to be injured than their veteran counterparts is fairly intuitive. New workers don’t know the process as well as experienced people, they are not used to performing the tasks, they don’t know the rules and regulations associated with their work, as well as others, do – or they have not seen those rules and regulations implemented in the real world – and they are not as familiar with the environment. None of this is innate, none of it is automatic. Workers will not come to you with some vast understanding of your business that they just happened to be born with. The key to avoiding injuries with your new employees – and any employees for that matter – is training. And training is the answer to “How do we fix it?”


Training is extremely important. Many safety incidents boil down to the fact that workers were not properly trained in the task they were performing and the safety requirements associated with it. You can have some of the best procedures in the world, but if your people aren’t trained in what those procedures are, or how to properly follow them, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

In addition, how you train is almost as important as what you train. In other words, plopping a new employee down in front of a video and telling them to get to work when it’s over has inherently less value than having a live, experienced human being with whom they can interact provide training. Being able to ask clarifying questions is invaluable.


Sometimes, live training isn’t always an option. This is why shadowing, mentoring, or on-the-job training is crucial. If you’re not able to have a person conduct the new hire orientations, this next step gives them the opportunity to learn from the people in the trenches or, at least, from people who were, at one time, in the trenches. This not only gives the new employee an opportunity to see the things they learned about in an actual work setting, but it also gives the company an opportunity to observe the new employee, to see how much of their training they have absorbed. The length of time shadowing needs to occur may vary depending on the new hire’s experience and capabilities and it could be a process that gradually weans over time, but the key to shadowing is that observations must be acted upon. If a new hire isn’t getting it, additional training and observation time may be needed.

One side note. New hires provide a good opportunity for the company to get a fresh set of eyes on their processes and procedures. It’s easy to dismiss a new employee as too green to be able to offer any valuable input, but sometimes we become complacent with our procedures, continuing with them because that’s just the way they’re done. If a new hire has a question or feedback about something they’re observing, take the time to evaluate if it’s valuable insight or not.


New employees will be new employees for some time. Just because an orientation or mentoring period is complete doesn’t mean that they are no longer new to the job. Supervisors should have a plan to provide additional oversight to new employees for some time after their shadowing period ends. Again, the length of this extra attention will vary depending on a variety of factors (past experience, ability to learn quickly, etc.), but it can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Reinforce the things new employees are doing well and provide constructive feedback to improve the things they have not been successful with.


The success of any new employee will rely heavily on two things: them and you. As stated before, their ability to learn and their past experience will dictate how quickly they are able to perform well. However, it doesn’t end there. Factors about your company play into this, too. For instance, how approachable is your supervisory staff? Do they make employees feel like questions or concerns are welcome or are employees made to feel that questions are a nuisance? Does your company see mistakes as learning opportunities or is there a rush to punishment that may make employees refrain from asking questions or, worse, hide their mistakes? Creating a culture of open communication is critical for employee success.

All workers face some level of risk, but new employees are more vulnerable for various reasons. Make sure your company is taking the time to properly bring them up to speed and monitoring their work for some time through additional oversight or mentorships. Proper planning for new employees can help bring this statistic down and help new employees become veteran employees.

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