Special from Atlanta—SHRM Annual Conference and Exhibition
Within the first week of employment, 22% of new hires will decide to stay or leave their new employer. By the time they reach the one-month mark, 34% have made their decisions. So what can employers do to help engage and retain their new hires and avoid costly turnover? Developing an effective onboarding program can be a strategy for success.
“There’s a very strong business case to be made for ensuring that new hires hit the ground running,” said Peyton Daniel, Senior Vice President of the talent solutions provider Lee Hecht Harrison in a session at the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference. New hires, at a very early stage, should understand their role in the company, the company’s culture, and how internal communication systems operate. “Ultimately, it’s about functioning effectively within an organization,” Daniel said.
To help new hires learn the ropes, employers should focus on the 2 keys areas:
- transitioning competencies (so new hires understand how their skills contribute to the company, and how to align with a new manager on roles, responsibilities, expectations, and priorities) and
- cultural fit (so new hires can establish strong working relationships).
Daniel provided the following suggestions for achieving these goals:
- Share information early—during the recruitment process make sure a prospective employee is well-informed about his or her role and the company culture. This helps the employee assess cultural fit. Employers can give a new or prospective employee a glimpse into the company culture by creating a “day in the life of” video that follows an employee through a day at the company. Posting the video on YouTube gives easy access.
- Establish goals—have clear goals and expectations with objectives that range from 30 days to 1 year to achieve
- Facilitate connections—introduce new hires to key leaders and peers to facilitate an internal network. One idea is to use social media to share information, asking new hires to connect with other employees on LinkedIn, sending employees to the employer’s Facebook page, and asking new hires to subscribe to the company’s Twitter feeds.
- Create a development plan—include self-directed learning, mentoring, coaching, and cross-functional knowledge sharing
- Achieve quick wins—provide opportunities for new hires to contribute immediately. This builds credibility and confidence.
- First impressions count—encourage new hires to schedule introductory meetings and begin productive, collaborative relationships
- Respect the existing culture—coach new hires to listen and ask question to learn methods for effective internal communication, how conflict is handled, and the decision making processes. Assigning a mentor or buddy can help new hires learn the cultural cues of the organization, like how the decision making process works.
- Encourage ownership—new hires should be encouraged to check in with managers to share updates on progress, goals achieve, challenges, and ideas
Employers with successful onboarding programs start planning before an employee is hired and make sure current employees, from HR managers to senior executives to team members, understand their roles and responsibilities in onboarding. A packet of information about the company and a schedule of the first day’s or week’s events can be sent to new hires before their first day. And current employees can be provided information in advance about a new employee’s arrival.
Another idea is to provide new hires with the names and titles of company leaders and managers, information about each person’s role in the company, and a list of questions for new hires to ask the person when they meet. Questions about the company’s strengths and weaknesses relative to competitors, the company’s goals, and the new hire’s role relative to those goals are a good start and will help new hires gain important information about the company and how they fit within the organization. Facilitating relationships within the company will go a long way in engaging and retaining productive employees.
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