Only four percent of working Americans qualified for unemployment in 2018.
While this was great for the economy, the record-low unemployment rate can be a serious threat to your retention rate because other companies are more willing to pay up to get top talent – and your employees know that.
What’s more, candidates are increasingly more willing to jump ship if they receive a better offer, even after they’ve already started work. In fact, half of all hourly workers jump ship within the first 120 days of employment.
Faced with a revolving door of talent, companies are more focused than ever on figuring out ways to improve retention rates so that they don’t lose out on the investments they’re making in their workforce. And what better place to start looking for solutions than at the beginning of the employee lifecycle: the onboarding process.
What is onboarding?
Some may say onboarding is just the compliance side of hiring: setting up payroll, going over the employee handbook, etc. But a proactive and engaging onboarding process involves so much more than just paperwork.
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) views onboarding as “proactive” when several human resources management functions (recruiting, training, payroll, benefits, etc.) work together to provide seamless support to ensure a new hire’s success within the organization. SHRM also notes that while the most important day on the job is the first day, the trajectory of a new hire’s successes is really set over the course of the first two weeks. This time period can truly make or break an employee’s career with your company.
SHRM also highlights four key “adjustment” phases that new hires will need to go through before they can really be considered to have completed the onboarding process successfully:
- Role clarity
- Social integration
- Knowledge of culture
In a tough labor market like the one employers are facing today, it’s not enough to simply have a defined onboarding process. (You should definitely still have one, though.) Time is also a critical factor for successful onboarding. Just like top talent doesn’t stay on the market for long these days, top new hires aren’t willing to wait for the gears of an outdated or inefficient onboarding process to get up to speed when they have multiple job offers.
Companies that don’t look for ways to improve, automate, and enhance their onboarding process to meet the pace expected by candidates and new hires risk falling victim to higher turnover rates, professional “ghosting,” lower team morale, and other consequences of an inefficient and un-engaging onboarding.
3 Hiring Woes an Efficient Onboarding Process Can Eliminate
1.Improve Retention by Connecting Company Culture Throughout Onboarding
Of all the phases employees go through as they adjust to their new position, arguably the most important of is understanding the work environment, people, and policies in place that make up the company’s culture.
Company culture tends to weigh heavily on a candidate’s decision to take a job offer. That is why it is important to be transparent about what the work environment is really like when talking to candidates. Being clear about the responsibilities of the job and the company culture from the beginning of the onboarding process helps minimize the risk that your new hire might leave because the reality of their role doesn’t match up to what they were expecting. (After all, it’s no coincidence that as much as 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment.)
Imagine: Sally is new to her job. During her interview, she was told your company has a “great work-life balance.” On her first day, however, she overheard a colleague complain about not being able to leave the office early for a family emergency. Over the next couple of weeks, Sally notices that her team constantly works overtime and seldom takes lunch. All of these factors could lead Sally to believe the “work-life balance” she first heard about is nonexistent. Since Sally is a working mother, she decides to leave the company after only three weeks. As a result, your company has lost thousands of dollars on a new hire that didn’t stick.
2.Having a more effective onboarding process could have prevented the above scenario from occurring.
A set interview guide rubric could have helped the interviewer stay transparent. The recruiter could have noted Sally needed a flexible schedule before referring her to the department manager. A better-defined leave policy in the employee handbook might have set clear expectations.
Below are three other ways a more defined and engaging onboarding process can help make the first 90 days a smooth transition for your new hires:
- Have quick check-ins scheduled with a mentor to touch base and answer any questions the new hire may be hesitant to ask their direct manager.
- Use one-on-one meetings to see what the new hire thinks of their new team and provide any feedback you think is necessary that can help them with their transition.
- Once all training is complete, gradually increase the new hire’s workload as they get up to speed on your company and their new role.
- Prevent “Ghosting” by Implementing a Proactive Onboarding Process
- Professional “ghosting” is a term used when a job candidate stops responding to all forms of communication and seemingly vanishes.
Imagine: George, a recruiter, has spent hours shuffling through resumes and finally finds an applicant worth interviewing. The applicant shows up for an interview on Tuesday, has an amazing interview, and gets a job offer to start the following week. Monday approaches and LeAnn, the hiring manager, has her entire team gather to welcome the new hire, but they do not show. LeAnn and George have been ghosted.
This tends to happen for a number of reasons, but the main problem is a lack of follow up. Below are a few pointers on how a proactive onboarding process can help prevent professional ghosting:
- Have the department manager call new hires one week before their start date. Sometimes new hires start weeks (or months) after their initial interview. Having a manager take five minutes out of their day to connect with their future employee shows that they are eager to have a new member on the team.
- Email new hires two days before their start date. Including as many touch points as you can before their first day can help new hires feel invested in the company and obligated to show up. If a new hire starts on a Monday, send them an email Friday morning with helpful information.
- Be thoughtful about the timing of your onboarding process. If you’ve had multiple candidates fall off the radar like this, consider holding off on getting too far into the onboarding process until a new hire’s first day. This saves your team from wasting their time getting everything set up for yet another ghost candidate.
3. Boost Employee Morale by Creating an Engaging Onboarding Experience
Think about college orientation. The orientation process instills the tradition and values of the alma matter into the newest freshmen class while also providing them with the opportunity to make friends and get to know the campus in a fun and engaging way. Universities today are amping up their orientations because they know a lot of students use this as a deciding factor, so they do everything in their power to persuade their students to stay.
The onboarding process for your company could have a similar impact. Whether you have a new hire class of two or 10, making sure their first day is filled with friendly faces, fun activities, and maybe even some free food is a great way to introduce people to your organization.
Enhance Your Onboarding Process with G&A Partners
No company hires a person with the intention of losing them within 90 days. Companies invest a lot of money in finding the right person, and without an effective onboarding process in place, hiring can start to feel like more of a gamble than a strategic HR function.
Here at G&A Partners, we do everything we can to make sure our clients’ employees have a smooth transition into their new roles. As part of our comprehensive HR services, we provide companies with access to a best-in-class online onboarding tool that integrates seamlessly with our HR, payroll, and time and attendance technologies. And our certified HR experts can help you develop policies and procedures that set every employee up for success from their first day to their retirement party.