Retention Secret #1: Better Onboarding

Employee disengagement is a serious issue facing workplaces today, with 70% of employees feeling disengaged from their work (source). That lowers productivity, and businesses are losing as much as $550 billion a year because of it. That percentage of employees who are disengaged hasn’t budged much in recent years – in 2011 it was 71% (source).

Better onboarding to prevent disengagement

Use better onboarding to prevent disengagement

Here’s a scenario that happens all too often: You’re involved in a hiring process for a key managerial position company. Everyone on the hiring committee works really hard to make sure you hire the right candidate. The job description is meticulously reviewed, the position notice and ads are carefully written, designed and posted in all the right places, the pool of candidates is robust, the interviews well-crafted and executed flawlessly, follow-up interviews help narrow the pool down to three candidates, you wine them and dine them and extol the virtues of the company, many lengthy committee discussions take place, and at last you make the hire. Everyone on the committee is ecstatic, and utterly exhausted from the whole process.

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There’s always that moment of panic on the new employee’s first day. Will she really show up? You find yourself keeping an eye on the lobby that morning. You heave a sigh of relief when you see the new hire making her way into the building. And then… you turn and walk away. After all, you did your part on the hiring committee, right?

It is in that precise moment that your new hire’s disengagement from their job begins – before they’ve even really had a chance to get started. The new employee enters the building eagerly, but no one is there to greet her. She sort of remembers where to find her new office, and after a few wrong turns locates it. It’s a lovely office, and she is pleasantly surprised to find someone there. Unfortunately, it’s not her supervisor or someone from HR. It’s a rather grumpy IT tech who is unpacking and setting up her computer. She is a little surprised and annoyed this wasn’t taken care of before she arrived, seeing as that there were two weeks between being offered the job and her start date. Well, hopefully the phone works…but it doesn’t.

Here are some additional data points that relate to that little scenario:

  • 67% of new employees plan to leave when they feel unsupported, like they aren’t even a team member.
  • When a new hire is frustrated by problems with internal processes and equipment, 56% think about leaving.
  • 61% of new employees consider leaving when their manager does not take the time to listen to them. 
  • Employees who have been on the job less than one year are among those mostly likely to consider leaving.

That little hypothetical scenario presented above could easily land you right back on another hiring committee to re-fill that same position just weeks or months later. And it all could have been avoided with better onboarding.

It’s completely mystifying that companies would put so much time and effort into recruitment, only to guarantee that the new hire will become disenchanted and disengaged because of poor post-hiring practices. It’s high time that companies make the new employee experience every bit as exciting and engaging as the candidate experience.

That transition from candidate to employee needs to become a seamless process that helps your company retain top-notch talent long after onboarding. And the devil, as they say, is in the details. It begins by recognizing and admitting that your onboarding process has problems or is anything less than stellar. This is true for a staggering number of organizations, and admitting you have a problem is an important first step in doing something about it.

You can beat the bad statistics in this article and create onboarding that is a dream come true for your new hires rather than their worst nightmare. Keep an eye out for future articles with practical steps you can take for better onboarding.

October 3, 2014   Updated :June 23, 2016   employee engagement, on-boarding, onboarding, recruitment, retention   

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