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5 Employee Onboarding Steps For a Higher Retention Rate

August 21, 2018
| ByGina Jessica Smith

Almost 30 percent of new hires say they're willing to walk out within the first 90 days if they find their new position unsatisfactory. In fact, a recent study showed that a remarkable 34 percent of corporate turnover came from workers in their initial 12 months on the job.

While figures like these highlight the importance of retaining your tenured employees, some turnover is not only necessary, but also a fact of life. So how do you stop recent hires from beating a path right back out the door? A thorough and individualized onboarding and recognition program that integrates, guides and encourages employees is the key to success.

According to LinkedIn, companies with structured onboarding programs retain 91 percent of first-year employees, while those that don't keep just 50 percent. When you consider that studies calculate the cost of replacing an employee at approximately 33 percent of their annual salary, these metrics make it more than worth the effort.

Here are five steps to make sure your onboarding process is a retention winner.

Be prepared

Don't leave onboarding to the moment your new employee shows up at your office. Set time aside now to plan your onboarding process, think through every step and commit to it, so that when your new colleague arrives they feel as though you’re invested in them and their success from day one. How you present the company to a new hire on that first day and welcome them to your organization is critical to their success.

According to a SHRM survey, some 17 percent of new hires that left their job within the first year said a warm greeting or helpful colleague might have compelled them to stay in their post.

Get a head start

A great best practice to establish is to provide your new hire with all the background info you can before he or she starts work. Email a complete job description, org charts, an employee handbook, and whatever process documents he or she will find most helpful before they sit down at their desk that first day. This gives your new hire a solid grounding before day 1 and is something they'll thank you for as they grow into their new role and become an integral part of the company.

Bonus tip: If possible, get some of the more pedantic aspects of onboarding (the endless paperwork) out of the way before your new hire reaches your doorstep: Send him or her a packet to fill out upon arrival for day 1, or email a link for electronic submission of forms. The first day on the job is stressful enough without a mountain of paperwork to complete.

Make a list, check it twice

"That's not the way we do it here.” There's nothing that makes a new hire feel less welcome than being pushed out to drift on an ice floe, left to navigate processes and systems all alone. So your employee is proficient with every software and system under the sun, but are there certain ways that these systems are used at your company?

Step back and put yourself in his or her shoes and look at your company through the eyes of a newcomer: What would you need to know if you were coming in with fresh eyes? Get all of that information down in one place so that you can easily communicate and provide it to your new hires.

Take it personally

Whenever possible, get a feel for your new hire’s personality and ask them candid questions, then approach their onboarding keeping their preferences in mind. For example, some new hires may want more hands-on attention; others may prefer to be shown the training interface or materials and allowed to go at their own pace.

Bonus tip: Regardless of the differing levels of engagement expected by new hires, the vast majority (89 percent in fact) says they expect to meet with their manager on the first day of working with a new company. This meeting conveys a sense of importance to the new hire and sets the tone for their future with the organization, therefore it’s important to arrange this face-to-face on their first day whenever possible.

Introduce your recognition program from the start

Your recognition and onboarding programs shouldn't be siloed: Weave them together to create an effective retention combo. Train new hires on your recognition program - just as you train on all other facets of the job - during the onboarding process. When employees are aware that there are opportunities for recognition early on from both mangers and peers, this sets expectations and motivations high right from the start.

While the stakes are high when it comes to effective employee onboarding, the process itself can be incredibly fruitful in bearing benefits that accrue not only directly to your bottom line, but also to your company culture. Making sure you get it right from the beginning ensures you’re making the right first impression, inspiring loyalty and retaining top talent.


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