How Your Onboarding Process Affects Employee Retention

High employee turnover plagues nearly every industry, and while some reasons employees decide to leave are out of your control, you have a great deal of influence on many of the factors that cause staff members to look elsewhere.

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to address employee turnover is through your onboarding program. Companies with an engaging onboarding process retain 91% of their first-year workers, however, only 12% of employees think their organization does a great job with onboarding. So determining what makes an onboarding program successful should be at the top of your to-do list. 
A good onboarding process should be structured and strategic and focus on people, rather than processes. And when preparing your onboarding program, it’s imperative to think about your employment short and long term goals.

For instance, in the short term, you’re likely looking for your onboarding program to:

  • Get employees excited about working for your organization
  • Ensure your employees can do their job. 
  • Complete essential paperwork necessary for payroll, taxes, etc.
  • Go over company culture & background to help acclimate your new hires.
  • Provide login credentials for all necessary platforms.
  • Introduce new employees to current staff.

And when thinking about the future, your onboarding program should be aiming to: 

  • Promote continued learning and training. 
  • Keep your employees around. 
  • Ensure employee growth and development.
  • Create an environment where employees feel appreciated.

So, if it’s not yet clear, onboarding can’t be a one-week venture. It has to be a continuous, adaptable program that is measurable in its effectiveness — i.e. through tracking retention and turnover rates. Let’s look at what’s essential to include in your onboarding program to keep your team around.

30/60/90 day plan 

Possibly the most important element in your onboarding program is your 30/60/90 day plan. This is an overview of your new hire’s three-month ramp up and what you expect of them as they get more familiar with your company and their new role. Managers can set the majority of the objectives, but should leave several areas open for your new hire to fill in based on where they’re interested in growing. This plan will give employees and their managers a clear and measurable way of monitoring progress so they can easily adjust their course of action. 

Manager check-ins

A continuation of the 30/60/90 day plan is weekly or bi-weekly manager check-ins. This is a recurring meeting where your managers and new hires can chat about how they’re doing, ask any questions, and relay important information. You can decide if you want to plan an agenda for each meeting, but make sure there’s time for feedback and questions.

And these should be an ongoing part of your employee lifecycle, meaning they shouldn’t stop after onboarding is complete. Employees should always be presented with an avenue to address concerns or ask questions to their managers.

Use a phased approach

When it comes to assigning work, you should use a phased approach when delegating projects for your new employees to work on. That way, they are able to continue to familiarize themselves with your company while seeing what the actual job entails in a digestible format. Their first projects or objectives should be met with appropriate feedback, and as they continue to ramp up, they can be given more work.

And while you may think it’s a good idea to wait a while before assigning responsibilities, you don’t want your new hires to get bored and you want to show them they are valuable to your organization. So go ahead and give them work, with the caveat that you’re always available for questions if they need it.

Keep the energy going

It’s often the case that the first few days of an employee’s career are filled with excitement, but that energy shouldn’t dissipate after a week. Build that energy into your company culture by encouraging employee recognition, comradery, and inclusion.

To promote recognition, You can take a note right out of “The Office” and host your own Dundies, or do what Hireology does and give shoutouts during weekly all-company meetings. Comradery can be achieved by hosting team or company happy hours, either virtual or in-person, depending on your workplace. And inclusion is something that should be consistently evaluated, but start by ensuring that everyone in your organization knows they are valued and have a voice.

No matter what tactics you implement, ask for employee feedback on how you can promote a more positive and exciting environment. This will make everyday feel like the first week, and will keep your team around for the long haul. 

The bottom line

Your employees’ happiness matters. Make sure it’s a priority from day one. 
For more tips about creating an effective onboarding program, you can access our Digital Onboarding Playbook — complete with a printable checklist — here.



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