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The talent market is incredibly competitive right now. Job openings are at a high not seen since the early 2000s, and the unemployment rate is the lowest its been since 1969. As we move toward 2019, it’s more important than ever to focus on retaining the talent we’ve worked so hard to recruit for our organizations.
Effective onboarding is a critical first step of any employee retention plan. Glassdoor, one of our marketing partners, shared a study by Brandon Hall Group that shows when an organization has a strong onboarding process, it can improve its retention of new hires by 82 percent. Employees who have a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to begin looking for new opportunities within the year. The good news is that many employee onboarding mistakes are fairly uncomplicated to solve.
My company works with high-growth teams to provide the most successful path for employees and businesses during onboarding and beyond. These are the most common onboarding mistakes I see and how I suggest fixing them — before they cost you a valuable employee.
1. Your unstructured onboarding process is more administrative than strategic.
Many employee onboarding programs are administrative and tedious — both for the employee and employer. In my experience, onboarding is treated more like an afterthought: The new hire shows up for their first day of work, fills out paperwork and perhaps joins the team for lunch before being left to their own devices. They might feel isolated, unsure of what’s expected of them and hesitant when solving issues that arise while wondering if they made the right decision about where to work.
A more strategic, structured onboarding process provides a better experience and can set your new hire up for success so they reach productivity faster. It’s important to go beyond the administrative functions in ways such as setting up the new hire’s email account and desk or identifying key objectives that will help make employees happy and productive at work. Create an onboarding roadmap with goals, check-ins, training and development, coaching and a career path. Assign an onboarding buddy, and let them know about your company knowledge base. Share information about your company’s history, mission, values and culture. Each of these things will help your new hires feel more connected to your organization and empower them to be successful in their roles.
2. You’re not pre-boarding new hires.
There’s often a gap between the time a new hire signs the offer letter and their official start date. During that time, they’re likely still hearing from other opportunities they considered while they were on the market, and they might even receive a counter-offer from their current employer. Leaving an awkward silence during this time could cost you a new hire before they even begin their first day of work.
I believe great employee onboarding should begin as soon as the offer letter is signed to build upon the excitement of a new opportunity and to validate the candidate made the right decision. I like to call this, “Yes to desk.” A strong pre-boarding experience welcomes the new hire, introduces them to the team and lets them know what to expect on their first day. Many organizations use this opportunity to get common first-day tasks out of the way, such as completing paperwork, making team introductions and sharing the company history. You may even introduce a buddy, send company swag and learn about the new hire’s equipment preferences. Your talent acquisition team works hard to attract the best talent on the market, and a smooth handoff to people operations and hiring managers ensures that a strong candidate experience translates into a strong employee experience.
3. Your onboarding program is short-term.
In many organizations, the bulk of onboarding occurs in the days before new hires begin work, and it extends into the morning of their start date. However, many new hires don’t reach full productivity that quickly. Without a long-term plan, new hires can feel abandoned, rather than supported, as they navigate their new roles.
The first 90 days are critical to a new hire’s success, engagement and productivity. The best employee onboarding programs make it clear what’s expected of the new hire within the first 90 days and provide resources to help the new hire achieve those goals. Managers should schedule check-ins around days 1, 7, 30, 60, and 90 to recognize successes and identify areas where the new hire may need some additional help.
4. You don’t cross-board internal hires.
Many organizations will offer an onboarding program to new hires but forget about internal hires who have been promoted or have moved to another department. These employees will often have a new team and manager with work styles that differ from what they’ve become accustomed to in previous roles. Without some guidance to help reach full productivity, they could feel out of place in their new role and consider leaving.
Just like new hires, internal hires should be set up for success in their new roles. Pre-boarding before the official transition date will introduce them to their new team and help them feel welcome and acclimated to a new work culture. Connect the employee’s former and new manager to discuss the transition and how the employee is best managed. Set new goals and check-ins, and map out a new development plan. Smooth transitions will help ensure your employees’ continued engagement, retention and growth at your organization.
The cost of employee turnover is high, and it is more challenging than ever to find and hire great talent for your organization. Keep the talent you have by setting them up for success from the moment they sign your offer letter and continuing to support them throughout their employee life cycle. A strong onboarding program can help you engage and retain the talent you’ve worked so hard to recruit, and it should be considered a work in progress as you incorporate feedback and data to continually improve it. With so much riding on the line, it’s imperative that you don’t let these common onboarding mistakes cost you valuable employees.
December 26, 2018 at 08:47AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs