Is Your Onboarding Process the Retention Weak Link?

It’s a long, arduous process landing the right talented people to fill positions within your company. Onboarding done properly can boost job performance, while improving job satisfaction and retention. You should plan for/expect the onboarding process to take approximately a year, because it’s a critical component to developing and retaining the quality workforce you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

The Problem

Managers are often guilty of rushing the onboarding process. It’s unrealistic to expect an employee to be fully engaged in their position and the company in less than a year. If managers fail to be patient and not cultivate their new hires, it can result in those employees falling short contributing to the business, thus risking their dissatisfaction and leaving. Managers frequently view orienting an employee as an annoyance that takes time out of their day, time they could otherwise be spending on more valuable organizational processes. This mindset needs to be reframed so that managers understand that investing in the new hire results in learning about them and making sure they fully understand their role in an effort to avoid feeling like they’re not contributing.

The Investment

Naturally, you’ll want to have that new hire start producing as quickly as possible. This is where successful onboarding plays a critical role. And, when done right, the onboarding process can make a significant, lasting difference in the new hire’s experience with your company, cultivating and cementing their loyalty and engagement.
So, how come so many are leaving within a year’s time or appear to be disgruntled less than a month after joining a company? Could your employee onboarding program be to blame? A common mistake businesses’ make is lack of attention to detail or lack of awareness for how to do onboarding right.

Suggested Solutions

Open to suggestions related to improving your onboarding process?

  • Once you think you’ve found the right candidate, act. When you show a candidate that you’re interested, provide them with a starting date. Good candidates have multiple offers. You could miss out if your hiring process is cumbersome. What can you do to streamline it?
  • Provide a clear, realistic picture of what’s expected of the candidate in the interview. Don’t wait till they’ve onboarded, only for them to find the job, in actuality, turns out to be completely different from what was initially presented to them.
  • The onboarding process should be a win for the new hire. It needs to help them better understand how they fit into the organization’s overall business goal.
  • Part of the onboarding process is training. What can you do to avoid having the new employee sit through boring, snooze-worthy information? Orienting employees via video training is valuable; however, make sure your video messages are current and timely. How business was conducted 10 or 20 years ago is very different from today. If your training videos aren’t up-to-date, you’ll lose your audience as you try to convey your message, because they’ll be distracted with business issues that are no longer a priority or what’s now considered vintage clothing worn by the presenters. Get creative and provide a blend of time, technology, and interactivity to keep the new hire motivated and eager to dive into their position.
  • Onboarding and orientation should be considered the initial stages of training. Both should address the culture of the business, what’s expected daily of the new hire, and offer ways new hires can further develop their careers. Training should move in one fluid motion. It’s designed to launch new hires into the ways of the company and their positions sooner and help them maximize their effectiveness quickly.
  • Keep your new employee paperwork to a minimum. Of course, gathering the necessary paperwork is legally required; however, here’s where HR software can help, because once the information is entered, it can then be easily downloaded to other forms, saving the new hire and staff from spending hours copying repetitive information.
  • If you hear employees complaining about the onboarding process or expressing frustration and threatening to quit, that’s a red flag. However, don’t fret. Use the information to devise surveys, conduct routine interviews, or design other tools that you can use to engage new hires early on. Retaining new employees is far more profitable than starting the search process all over again. Turn those lemons into lemonade.
  • Onboarding should afford the new hire the opportunity to interact with and learn from coworkers, which will help them to thrive in the company culture, because it helps build a strong support network. According to research, engaged employees are often those who have strong relationships with their co-workers and managers.
  • Remember, onboarding is your first opportunity to engage employees and help them acclimate to your company’s culture and expectations. Part of the onboarding process is introducing your team to the new hire on the first day. Not every new hire is an extrovert. Even if he or she is, they may still feel overwhelmed, but you can help to break the ice when they need to interact with coworkers as they move forward. And, consider creating an employee social media board that could be introduced during orientation, which helps new hires ease into getting to know everyone at the company.
  • Avoid one-way communication—from the top down. Encourage your new hire to share their thoughts and ideas from day one. Then listen and provide them feedback.
  • Avoid placing high expectations on your new hire’s performance starting on day one. Even though they may have sparkling personalities and are quick learners, it still takes time to develop working relationships. Don’t expect them to be stars on the first day.
  • Acknowledge your new hire’s strengths and use them to help them gain confidence in what they’re doing. Keep them engaged by learning about additional skills they bring to the position that could be a direct benefit. For example, if you know of a new hire who did voice-over work in the past, ask them to record your video sales training scripts. In this way, they’ll feel like they’re contributing and feel valued.
  • Be flexible and consider the new hire’s background when you interact with them. You’ll want to discuss plans a bit differently with one who has years of experience compared to one who’s fresh out of college with very limited experience. In this way, you’ll make both feel comfortable, while avoiding talking down to the more experienced individual.
  • Help the new hire quickly blend in with the team by including them in out-of-the-office social situations. This provides an opportunity for the team to better acquaint themselves with the new hire in a relaxed setting. It could be a one-on-one interaction outside the office or a group gathering.
  • Regularly review how you conduct your onboarding process. Glean feedback from your new hires and look for other ways to improve/revise the process. Avoid getting comfortable with how it’s been conducted. As your business grows, there are always ways to improve/tweak it. It’ll be a win/win for your business and the new hires.

Onboarding is worth the time investment, because it helps your new employees get a sense of being part of your company sooner. By doing so, you’ll reap great dividends in terms of retaining good employees and minimizing turnover.

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