Turning the Tide Through Effective Employee Onboarding

employee onboarding and entry

News outlets spewed frenzied headlines:

  • The long, amazing history of quitting jobs in epic fashion” – Washington Post
  • Americans are quitting their jobs like crazy” – Business Insider
  • More Americans quitting jobs” – Reuters
  • It’s Great That So Many Americans Are Quitting Their Jobs” – The Atlantic

Statistics from the U.S. Labor Department’s December 2016 Job Opening and Turnover Survey indicated voluntary turnover rates had reached a startling all-time high. Journalists sensationalized it. Economists argued this signaled economic health. HR professionals bemoaned their lot. What reports glossed over was the percentage of voluntary exits that tended to happen within the first 12 months of employment and how thoughtful employee onboarding practices could help turn the fast turnover tide.

According to data from Equifax, 40 percent of employees who leave of their own choosing do so within six months of starting their job. Another 16 percent quit within 12 months. Simple translation: more than half of voluntary turnovers happen within a year of new hire start dates. When these disenchanted, far from engaged employees leave chances are most are invited to a good ol’ exit interview. Had they been asked for input at the outset of their employment vis-à-vis entry interviews, things might have turned out differently.

A top-rated professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and New York Times best-selling author, Adam Grant, is an employee onboarding pundit. His research indicates entry interviews can strengthen employees’ feelings that managers value and care about them, which is an important driver of satisfaction, performance, and retention. The interviews can also set the stage for developing a mentoring relationship with new employees, which can support their learning and development.

“Instead of waiting for exit interviews to identify problems and missed opportunities,” Grant counsels organizations to interview employees shortly after they’ve been hired. During these entry interviews, employees can be invited to share information about their interests, values, preferences, knowledge, skills, and career aspirations.

Seemingly 33 percent of new hires know after their first week whether they’ll stay long term. They have an expectation of their new job and employer. If the job isn’t what they signed up for, if they’re overwhelmed, under-challenged, out of sync, or left flapping in a brown paper bag with little support, you can bet they’ll hightail it. So that first impression your organization makes matters – a lot.

Managers who meet early on with their new team members to discuss how the job is working out, create an environment of collaboration and trust. These one-on-one chats are an excellent employee onboarding opportunity to establish milestones, talk about and tackle discouraging experiences, applaud even the smallest achievements, and look at training, resources and supports. Most especially, entry interviews are a great way to get to know the new hire as a person – what they hope to get out of their job, their career goals, what drives and inspires them.

Employee onboarding practices and overall retention can also be enhanced using online tools. An effective entry-oriented employee survey process from TalentMap, for instance, collects systematic feedback from new hires, internal transfers and acquired employees at 30, 90 and 180 days. It’s a channel for honest feedback, conveys an important message of caring and goodwill, and establishes credible data for decision-making. Information pinpoints emerging issues and gives organizations time to react before it’s too late.

Studies by Provisional, a U.S. recruiting and staffing company, affirm employee onboarding measures show new hires their organization cares about them and their long-term success – which can boost performance and retention.  Professor Grant concurs, pointing to two primary entry interview outcomes. First, employees feel valued from day one, chiefly because of the stronger, productive relationship they build with their manager. Second, managers gain valuable insights and can design more developmental and engaging work experiences. “When employees feel valued by their managers, they are more willing to go above and beyond to contribute,” Grant writes.

Hear! Hear! There’s hope yet that all those employees “quitting their jobs like crazy” find the right fit, feel engaged and choose to stay put for a while longer.

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