First impressions are lasting, but many employees are not. Some new hires were probably not a good fit for the job, but some productive, dependable employees bolt, too, and they didn’t really leave “for more money.”

“More money” is just a polite way of saying they went looking elsewhere for what we all want from our jobs — a sense of accomplishment, some personal recognition and the “can-do” teamwork environment that makes us look forward to getting out of bed in the morning.

So what happens between the new hire’s acceptance of a job offer and the day he or she quits? In a nutshell, that person’s manager probably spent most of each day mainly doing just two things: Dealing with unexpected problems, and dealing with difficult employees and the problems they created.

This leaves the dependable, self-directed people to fend for themselves simply because they can be relied upon to handle things on their own. It doesn’t take long for top per-formers to begin to feel overworked and/or under-appreciated, leading them to think that maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

The good news is that keeping your best people on board doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort if you simply make the most of these five firsts:

1. The First Hour on the Job: Use the first hour to make the best first impression possible. This is not the time for completing paperwork or going over safety rules. This is the time to make introductions, to make the person feel comfortable, to explain why the job is important and how job performance will affect customers and co-workers alike. Encourage your new hire to ask questions and give him or her real answers. Ask if there are any concerns. Take the time to share a little of your company’s history and your personal work history. Make the new hire feel like a valued member of the team.

2. End of the First Day: Your new employee is reeling from a day filled with one new thing after another, so spend the last 15 minutes of the day debriefing, answering questions and ensuring the new hire leaves with a positive impression. Once home, it is inevitable the employee will be asked: “How was your day?” You want the answer to be: “Great! It’s a great place to work.”

3. End of the First Week: At the end of the first week, it’s time to meet with the new employee to find out how the week went. Once again, reinforce the positive relationship the two of you are building.

4. First Paycheck: Present the first paycheck in person. Whether you hand them the actual check or a copy of the deposit slip, this is the ideal moment to say either, “You’re doing great; keep it up,” or, “I think you’re trying very hard, but I have a couple of concerns.”

5. First Year Anniversary: One of the keys to keeping great employees is to create times for fun and camaraderie. One of the best reasons to celebrate is an employment anniversary.

If you take these first five opportunities to extend respect, acknowledgment and appreciation, you’ll be able to keep new employees motivated and on your team.

Mel Kleiman is a certified speaking professional, writer, pragmatic business owner and consultant on frontline employee recruiting, selection, and retention best practices. He serves as president of Humetrics, is a member of a number human resource-related boards and organizations. He is also a longstanding member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Speakers Association.

Mel is the author of five books, including the bestselling “Hire Tough, Manage Easy - How to Find and Hire the Best Hourly Employees,” as well as hundreds of articles for numerous magazines and trade journals worldwide.