Companies incur significant expenses during the recruitment and hiring process, with various sources attaching figures as low as $5,000 or as high as $11,000 to the cost of hiring a single employee. At the same time, one 2014 study found that 17% of new hires quit within their first three months. Another 2018 study conducted by the Work Institute found that 40% of employees left a company within 12 months, with 50% of that turnover happening in the initial three months of employment. When employees leave the company within the first 90 days, the money spent to recruit, interview, and hire them is lost, and there could be additional losses in productivity for the teams.
There are many reasons a new employee might not last through their probationary period, but one of the factors that employers have control over is their employee onboarding process.
Creating a Great Employee Onboarding Experience
Here are seven employee onboarding tips that will help you improve employee retention and make the most of your investments in recruiting and hiring.
1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
As a manager, you should put yourself in the shoes of a new hire and appreciate what it's like for them to start working somewhere new. We often become so engrossed in our own roles that we can barely remember the time when we weren't deeply acquainted with the people, processes, and products that make our businesses work. We might be so focused on roles and responsibilities that we forget to think about what new employees want from us when they join our team. Remember that your new hire is seeing, hearing, and experiencing everything at your company for the first time — your job is to make them feel comfortable and integrate them into the company so they can start producing. You can also use new hires, as a great way to start a feedback loop and learn what onboarding procedures are working well and if any may be confusing or unappealing to your newest hires.
2. Let Your New Hire Know What to Expect
Nobody likes being blindsided, yet many companies invite new hires in for their first day of employment without any notice or explanation of what they should do, where they should report, or what else will be expected of them. When you hire someone new, have their direct manager call them a day or two before their scheduled start date to go over practical items like the dress code and summarize the itinerary for their onboarding process. Many people will ask your new hire what their first day was like, and you only get one chance to make a positive impression of your environment.
3. Start with a Structured Schedule
Without adequate guidance in their first weeks on the job, new hires can be left without a sense of purpose, wondering what to do next. Your employee onboarding program should include one to two weeks of structured days to ensure that the new employee is being adequately engaged in their first weeks of work — they should never feel like they have nothing to do. The employee's direct manager can collaborate with HR to generate task lists and schedules for the employee — we especially like task lists because they can turn into scavenger hunts that enable the employee to start creating relationships and learning how to navigate your company. After a couple of weeks have passed, the employee should be ready to handle their responsibilities at their own pace.
4. Connect New Hires to Internal Resources
Support from the right places is one of the crucial factors that determine whether a new hire stays or goes. Multiple studies have identified that the new employee's direct manager should be the person guiding them throughout the onboarding process (not a colleague or an HR team member), and respondents to these studies indicated that assigning a mentor or "buddy" to your new hire is a great way to help them start making friends in the office. A meta-analysis of over 70 studies found that feeling socially accepted was a critical factor when it came to newcomer success.
At the same time, new hires will need to develop contacts throughout the departments of your organization in order to communicate and perform their job roles effectively. Try making a list of key personnel that your new hire will interact with in their job role and create a fact-finding mission that will have them meet everyone on the list during their first day. You can make it fun by including silly objectives — "Meet Ruth in Accounting and find out her favorite color." "Meet Bob the Designer and find out what he ate for lunch." Don’t forget to let the employees on the list know to expect a new hire visitation.
5. Help Your Newest Employees See the Big Picture
As your new hire meets more people around the office, they should start to develop a better idea of how your business functions and how their role interfaces with other roles at the company. This helps new employees start to understand their roles and responsibilities even better. Your new hire may have simply seen their roles and responsibilities described on their job offer, but now they can start to see how different departments work together and begin developing a sense of belonging within the overall structure of the company.
6. Set Clear and Realistic Expectations...
Setting clear and realistic expectations for the success of employees is a process that should begin on their first day of employment. Goal-setting and review should continue as a monthly follow-up process between the new hire and their manager. New hires need to understand what is expected of them — in many cases, they are trying to discover how they can impress their new employers and make a name for themselves. Managers need to constantly communicate the criteria for success and provide resources that support the new hire's desire to achieve. We recommend setting clearly communicated 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals and doing a mini performance review during that time that sets the new hire up for further success.
7. ...But Don't Expect Immediate Results
At the same time, it may not be realistic to expect new team members to come in and start performing at a high level immediately. Even a subject area expert takes time to acquaint themselves with the processes and people at a new company and start delivering their best work. Managers should collect feedback from new hires about the onboarding process and help new hires feel comfortable addressing issues that could be affecting their satisfaction or productivity.
Need Employees to Onboard?
If you've recently redesigned your onboarding process to successfully integrate new hires and turn them into star performers, we're here to provide the talent you need! Our talent team is excited to find the perfect addition to your growing team.
About the Author
As the head of a ClearCompany department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara Pollock has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both success and failure in talent acquisition and management.