Get on-board! Why proper on- boarding is so important to talent retention

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21 Oct 2016

Andy Minifie, Group Managing Partner at Haines Watts, shares his insight into why having a structured on-boarding process in place is essential in making a lasting impression, reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

The initial days of an employee joining your company can be significantly daunting. The range of emotions the individual experiences along with the efficiency from job performance and culture adjustment are highly dependent on what your organisation does with the new employee from day one.

Gone are the days when welcoming new hires meant handing over a brochure with the company’s mission, values, goals and performance checklist. Today, employee orientation is a much more structured, on-going process that can continue for the entire length of their employment at the organisation.

So why is proper on-boarding so important?

Well for a start turnover is significantly expensive. According to recent research by SilkRoad (2016) the average cost of replacing an employee is said to be between 30 – 50% of the person’s annual salary. With every departure, morale and productivity suffers. That’s why it is vital that all organisations select their people carefully and then retain them. A study by analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. First impressions have never counted more. Following the interview process, most new hires have bought into your company’s values and proposition and want to be a part of it. On-boarding is the perfect opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression on a new hire. See it as the ‘honeymoon’ phase for new employees. They have agreed to come and work for your company and are prepared to be wowed. But the employer needs to deliver the goods. On-boarding plays a key role in taking these enthusiastic new hires and rapidly immerses them into the life and soul of the organisation. That engagement leads to employee commitment and that commitment often leads to achievement.

When considering the life cycle of an employee at your organisation, retention and job performance are always key metrics to measure. If there appears to be an unusually high level of departures in the first year of employment, it’s likely you are facing significant retention issues that may have stemmed from how well you have on-boarded your new employees.

What goals can a good on-boarding program deliver?

Reduces Turnover

As I have already mentioned, turnover is expensive. Professional services organisations typically lose as many as 15-20% of employees per year which is costly. Strong on-boarding programs ensure new employees feel valued and have all the necessary tools to succeed. They help to demonstrate in tangible ways that the organisation truly cares about its employees and are investing in making them successful in their new role.

Reduces Time to Productivity

The time to productivity metric is a critical measurement in recruiting and talent management. It can be defined as the time required for new employees to have all the information, skills and equipment necessary to perform their job at a productive level. Proper on-boarding gets employees up to speed quicker, so that within weeks it’s hard to tell the difference between new and existing employees.

Reduces Stress

The guesswork required by new employees can be enough to cause a significant amount of uncertainty and potentially anxiety. By telling new hires what they need to know before they need to know it, it reduces the negative affect that naturally occurs when entering a new situation and makes it possible for new hires to concentrate on their work rather than their angst.


5 steps to effective on-boarding:

1. Plan

The on-boarding process should begin when a new employee accepts the offer and hiring managers should ideally engage with them before they start. Also if you can provide new employees with key information and some simple tasks to complete before they arrive on their first day, you can ensure they already have some key knowledge.

2. Connect the Roots

The first day of employment can be a stressful time for both the new hire and management. Rather than expecting your new employee to jump into getting it all done, it is extremely valuable to get them to listen and learn. This allows the new hire to be immersed in the company’s culture by learning about its history, structure and industry as a whole. This allows them to soak it all in and understand the core of who you really are as a business.

3. Assign Ownership from the Start

People are typically fast learners and flourish when given responsibility. Effective on-boarding reflects this as it includes two types of tasks: self-guided and guided. New hires should be charges with both sets of tasks which allows them to experience independence and support when needed. Having a mixture is necessary to help them learn from and connect with their fellow co-workers, all while being guided by a team member.

4. Put the ‘I’ in Team

As important as it is to submerge new hires into your company culture, it’s equally important to make sure they feel that they are a unique addition to the team. Every company has their little nuances that define their culture and make employees feel like they are part of something bigger.

5. Utilise their fresh pair of eyes

New hires bring fresh insights and perspectives to the table. It’s important to encourage them to speak freely and ask questions. You need to balance your company’s culture with an environment that celebrates each member’s unique skills, background and thoughts. So take advantage of having a fresh pair of eyes.

In Summary

Invest in your new hires and give them an exceptional first experience so you can both know that you made the right choice. Take the opportunity to inject your core values from day one with your employees, familiarising new hires to the office environment, company structure, culture and methods of working that help to foster independence and confidence in their decision making.

With an efficient on-boarding program in place, your company can ensure new employees are more productive and quickly make an impact on the bottom line.

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