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An Onboarding Process that Improves Retention

Improves Retention

By Kristie L. Arnst, RESSCO​

Research says that employees who attended a well-structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to remain at the company for up to three years. Find out how to build an onboarding program that will keep new associates with you.

Recruiting talent has been a topic of much discussion in our industry and it is a real challenge. Companies small and large from all markets struggle to fill positions with qualified candidates. A great deal of time and effort is spent overcoming these challenges, but too often the conversation stops there.

The onboarding process for new team members is not only a key factor in whether they will be successful in their role, it can determine if they choose to stay with the company.

Employee retention starts on Day One of employment. The Society for Human Resources Management Foundation found that, for one organization, “new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding program were 69 percent more likely to remain at the company up to three years.”

However, many companies describe their onboarding processes as inadequate.

When possible, train your new employees at sites other than the one where they will be assigned. You waited for the position to be filled; you should wait one extra week to ensure that new employees have proper onboarding. If everyone on the team commits to this, they will have a team member who will be much more effective when they start.

While technology is a terrific tool for training, successful onboarding plans do not require high-tech solutions. Rather, thoughtful planning and execution is necessary to ensure that new hires have extraordinary onboarding experiences.

Focus on company culture during the first day of every employee’s tenure. The more levels of management you introduce the employee to, the more welcome and subsequently effective they will be. This can be accomplished in-person, via video conference or by telephone. Talk about the company culture, vision and core values. Ensure that new employees understand the company’s mission and how their role impacts that mission.

Create an on-boarding checklist that identifies what the new employee will be expected to learn in their first 60-days. This includes goals, reports, systems and policies. The supervisor reviews this checklist weekly with the employee to assess their progress, address questions and ensure the employee is receiving needed support. Should you experience a breakdown in the training process, you will identify it quickly by using this process.

Prepare an agenda that includes what will be learned and who will teach it. Too often, new employees are expected to learn from tenured employees who have no background in training, and oftentimes aren’t fully aware of what they should be teaching. Your best and brightest employees can be your most valuable resources during the onboarding process, but they and the new employees need to know exactly what they need to accomplish during their time together.

Through this process, a buddy system should develop. The new employee has now built a working relationship with a peer and will feel much more likely to reach out to them with any questions or concerns. Additionally, recognizing top-performing employees and trusting their abilities to assist in the onboarding of a new employee is an honor that associates will seek to earn and it will strengthen employee retention. For companies with a widespread portfolio, this buddy system can be effective with video conferencing and phone calls.

The formula to successful onboarding is simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes commitment and time investment from all levels of leadership and every team member. Given the cost of employee turnover, it is a wise investment to make.