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Onboarding: Engage, Retain, Succeed

The first few weeks on the job are critical for new-hire retention. It is in these crucial few weeks that a new employee is assessing whether they have made the right move to join your organization. Research done in 2008 from Aberdeen Group cited 86 percent of companies believed it could take up to 6 months for an employee to decide if they want to stay long term. But even then, the employee cycle was shortening. Research done recently by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found it took less than 30 days for that new employee to decide whether they feel welcomed by the organization and if they received enough information and support to successfully contribute.

In the past few years, that time for an employee’s permanent impression continues to compress, making immediate and effective onboarding essential to new hire success.

Share your Culture

People join companies for the same reasons they sought them in the first place, in particular, the culture. At Google, widely known for attracting top talent, culture begins with the mantra “find them, grow them, keep them” which is a distinct and inclusive culture that focuses on creating colleagues not just coworkers. This mantra is more than just the promise of bean bag chairs and free coffee. It’s a blueprint that starts on day one with onboarding.

A new employee’s onboarding period should be consistent with the values that define the company’s employer brand. If a company believes in transparency and openness, for example, it would be contradictory for an employee to learn their manager doors are closed and he/she is only accessible via meetings. More importantly, these groups need to show new hires how they’re living these values. Share the company’s history, vision, and mission. Let them know not only about any upcoming or recurring events or, celebrations, but also what is the style and tone of these happenings and what to expect.

Encourage Better Team Relationships

Companies talk about engagement as if there is a vacuum between the individual and the company. The reality is that we need to start refocusing the engagement conversation to highlight the importance of team relationships. When employees join a new company, the first relationships they invest in are with their managers and their teams. Even if a company is a perennial top ranked company to work for, people will likely leave if they don’t feel that they are part of a team.

Employees who feel they fit in and have good relationships with their teammates have a much higher retention rate.

Frequent check-ins and open communication, especially about performance milestones from day one, are key. Consider surveying candidates and new hires for values and communication styles, to aid in better understanding how to motivate and retain.

Better communication can also help you understand the key drivers that motive your new hire. Some employees may be driven by ambition while others by compassion. At Ceridian, we are piloting a tool called TeamRelate within our HR system. TeamRelate provides managers with insight into what motivates their team, based on a short survey. The survey highlights individual communication styles based on key personality traits and how they interact with others. There are 4 different communications styles with specific traits:

  • Director: Authority and Control – say what they believe is relevant and directly to the point. Sometimes hear only what they want, and prefer interactions to be factual, not emotional.
  • Encourager: Excitement and Fun – speak often, sometimes exaggerating to make a point. Generally hear conversations in broad strokes, and prefer people to share their emotional enthusiasm.
  • Facilitator: Harmony and Security – reserved and friendly, speaking in gentle tones. Encouragers listen patiently, and like to be appreciated for listening.
  • Tracker: Understanding and Details – describe everything in detail. Will often press for additional information. Trackers strive to be understood with clarity.

We recognize that while people come into an organization with hopes and satisfaction high, the experience of onboarding can often be highly disillusioning. By working on communication and investing in a tool such as TeamRelate, during the onboarding process, you can ensure managers and team members understand how to communicate and collaborate with each other, making that first 30-day period successful for your new hire.

Consider the Right Technology

There are basic onboarding tools to automate forms, tasks, and approvals. This tactical approach to onboarding is important to make the process seamless and easy for candidates. In reality, the less painful the administrative logistics are for new hires, the better the chances are of maintaining excitement during the honeymoon period. However, proper onboarding needs to ensure new employees are immersed in the culture and feeling like part of the team as soon as possible.

Technology can help. Consider solutions that allow employees to onboard even before an offer is accepted and much earlier than the start date. While a company email address may not be viable before the start date, having a portal that allows candidates to learn about the company, its values, benefits, and most importantly network with their future teammates is most valuable. Upon offer extension recruiters can actively reach out to candidates encouraging them to sign in to a company site where they can learn, connect with team members LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, and see their blogging activity. The goal is to help them get a head start on building relationships and feeling familiar with the work.

It’s hard to recruit good talent, and it’s much harder to keep it. While provisioning the new employee is important, companies need to start thinking differently about onboarding. A successful onboarding process helps you establish a good fit between the team and your new hire from day one. Go beyond the tactical aspect of onboarding to include new hires into the cultural fabric of your organization. The best companies are adopting processes that drive early engagement and new hire retention by blurring the lines between candidate and employee to help them build relationships with their managers and their teams.

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Article by Jayson Saba

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Jayson Saba is Ceridian’s Vice President of Market Research & Industry Relations. He leads Ceridian’s market research, competitive intelligence, and industry analyst relations. Prior to joining Ceridian, Jayson was the lead analyst covering core HR, Workforce Management and Outsourcing at the HCM practice of Boston-based Aberdeen Group. During his tenure, he wrote and published over 100 research papers and benchmark reports.

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