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Onboarding: The Secret to Retaining Employees

It’s a new employee’s first day. They are excited to start their new job and learn what it takes to succeed within the organization. Like many new employees, they are also experiencing a bit of nervousness as they are unsure what to expect on their first day.  Scenario – The employee arrives in plenty of time, yet, was not informed about where the employee parking lot is located. The organization is located in an area which is foreign to the employee and he or she becomes lost and is now late. It’s already been a stressful first day for him or her and he or she hasn’t even walked in the door yet! One might say that a good employee would ask the question of where to park, but an organization that has a structured onboarding program would have already told the employee where to park. An employee’s first day is a day when he or she hopes to make a good first impression, and is also a day when the employer should want to make a good impression on the new employee. In this scenario neither one of these has been achieved. According to ememedia.com, one-third of new employees leave employment after six-months. Thus, employers need to find more ways to engage and retain their employees early on in the new hire process, and structured onboarding programs are one way they are able to achieve this goal.

A structured onboarding program helps employers to attract and retain good talent. By engaging employees early on in the onboarding program through forging connections and building trust, the organization will ultimately decrease turnover. When the realization is made that an organization’s onboarding program needs a good makeover, it takes both buy-in from key stakeholders at the top, department heads, and HR representatives in order to guarantee that all aspects of the organization will be covered throughout the process. Not only is it important to include key stakeholders, department heads, and HR representatives, it is also important to include managers and to get their buy-in, as they will be essential to the success of the structured onboarding process. New employees should know immediately what is expected of them and the manager’s role is to convey that information while being consistent from one new employee to the next.

Employers should strive to make new employee orientation the first step to their structured onboarding process. Depending on the type and size of an organization, this may last a week, or maybe even a month. The first 90-days are crucial in the employee’s lifecycle within the organization. This is their time to prove themselves, as well as the organization’s chance to make an impression on the new employee allowing for the possibility of greater retention. As the old adage states, “There is never a second chance for a first impression”. It is also important to note, the sooner an employee understands the day-to-day operations of the organization, the sooner they are able to begin adding to the bottom line results.

Technology may play a vital role in an effective and efficient structured onboarding process. While the employee is working on portions of the onboarding process that involves the use of technology for training, it will allow for human capital loss to be minimized. However, there is still no replacement for the face-to-face onboarding where a manager or mentor is working with a new employee. Each department within the organization should be required to be involved in the structured onboarding process so that the new employee better understands how their job fits into the bigger picture of the organization as a whole. So, a combination of both technology-based training and face-to-face mentoring is the best solution for a successful structured onboarding program.

Engaging employees early on is important. It is important to show new employees how they are able to contribute to the success of the organization. Rotational training programs allow new employees to stay motivated and engaged by learning additional information about different aspects of an organization while exhibiting their questions and ideas throughout each area. Rotational programs may be costly, however, their benefit of decreasing turnover in the grand scheme of things far outweighs the cost of implementing a rotational program.

A structured onboarding program allows employees to understand what will be expected of them before their first day as well as how their job fits within the organization as a whole. Employers should highly consider taking a look at their existing onboarding efforts to ensure that employees are engaged from the very beginning. This will ultimately increase engagement between employees, increase retention, and ultimately add to the bottom line of the organization.

For additional information on this topic, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com.

Written by: Patrick McKenna, SHRM-CP

HR Coordinator





New Focus HR is a human resources consulting and training company that services all organizations. Our expert team collaborates with businesses to attract, motivate, retrain and retain their biggest assets, employees. While engaged with an organization, our focus is to find solutions that improve the company’s internal HR-related practices while increasing results at the same time! Our focus. Your results.