A Fix for Employee Turnover

EE OrientWEBHere is a quick quiz for you. What can improve staff commitment, reduce turn over and increase profits? Give up? Employee Orientation is the correct answer. Nowadays you may know it as Onboarding. A recent report by the SHRM Foundation suggests, “According to recent data, more than 25 percent of the U.S. population experiences some type of career transition each year. Unfortunately, many transitions are not successful. Half of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of senior outside hires fail within 18 months.” A contributing factor is that the Onboarding process is usually afforded minimum attention and respect.

However, it is essential that everyone understand how difficult it is for a new employee to become a full contributor to the organization. Helping new employees get on board is more challenging than one might think. An article by the University of North Carolina suggests that the Onboarding process, including follow-up, should last the entire first year. The article goes on to say that an effective program helps a new employee increase self-efficacy, improve role clarity, help speed up the socialization process and provide cultural knowledge.

Neglecting introducing the company’s culture in the Onboarding process is common. Instead of a few introductions or lunches with peers, take the education about the company seriously. This is critical to success as the company continues to grow. Further, the CEO should play a prominent role in helping new employees understand what the company stands for – sharing company values, the vision and mission and giving examples of situations about how those key elements come into play.

Another topic that faces neglect during orientation is how the company makes money. Every good orientation program should include that point, including how the company keeps the money and how that new employee’s job fits into and contributes to organizational objectives.

Here are a few elements a good Onboarding process should include:

  • A champion for the program
  • A rotating team that works on the critical elements of the program year round
  • Begin the program prior to the first day of employment
  • Extend the program for at least 90 days
  • Build in follow-up segments
  • Distribute a job related performance development binder for each new hire
  • Ensure the new employee’s workspace is prepared before he/she arrives
  • Provide each new hire with a schedule of what the first few weeks will look like. This can include training schedules, meet and greets, meetings, etc.
  • Assign a peer mentor for each new team member
  • Ask current employees what would have helped them as they became a part of the team
  • Hold managers accountable for the success of new hires

This last point bears some further comments.

Leaders need to understand that each new hire comes to the company ready to blow his or her manager away. Unfortunately, typically the manager deflates that enthusiasm. People stay at a company because of the quality of their manager’s leadership. Having managers take a strong and visible role in new staff orientation is to the company’s advantage. Regardless of the size of the organization, cliques form. A manager helping a new employee become comfortable and feel welcome has to create situations that allow interactions in a safe and controlled environment. Employees with the best intentions can be intimidating to a new staff member, talking about what they do, how well they do it and possibly sharing a few horror stories about projects gone wrong or unhappy customer stories. Hold managers to high standards on employee retention.

It is critical for organizations to give serious consideration to the Onboarding process. Turnover and hiring new employees is expensive and the hiring process is challenging. Leaders cannot afford to let their guard down and feel the hard work is over just because someone accepts the job offer and joins the team. In reality, the difficult work has just begun. Make the new staff orientation a commitment, not a just a process.


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