Editor's Note: Michelin will be sharing best practices in onboarding at the 2014 IW Best Plants conference in Milwaukee, May 5-7.

Michelin doesn't hire employees simply to fill open positions. The end game is to develop people for long and successful careers with the company.

That mission, explains Sherie Burdett, begins with the onboarding process.

"We believe that nurturing our workforce -- from the beginning -- through programs that help them become engaged in their careers contributes to the overall success of the company," explains Burdett, onboarding manager for Michelin North America. 

See Also: Manufacturing Workforce Management Best Practices

"When engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection with the company, they drive innovation and help move the organization forward," she adds.

Michelin's onboarding process includes pairing new recruits with "ambassadors." The ambassador's role is to ease the new employee's transition into the workplace by assisting the recruit in understanding his or her specific work area and the company culture, and by serving as an advocate for Michelin. 

The company's onboarding effort doesn't end there, however. Indeed, the process consists of what Burdett describes as five "streams": 1. Pre-arrival 2. First Days 3. Welcome to Department 4. A Better Way to Start 5. Two-way assessment.

"Each stream is designed to onboard the employee as quickly, efficiently, thoroughly and positively as possible," explains Burdett.

First Impressions Matter 

Such early intervention is important for companies who want to keep good employees for the long-term, says Gerald Ledford, a senior research scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. 

"Research shows that more than half of all turnover happens during the first few years of employment. This means that it is very important for companies to get off on the right foot with new employees," he says. "They need to begin establishing a strong connection, and defining the company's employment brand, as soon as possible. Connecting and branding need to begin during the hiring process -- when the company makes a first impression through its early contacts with a candidate -- but must be reinforced in the early days of employment."