The Secret Ingredient to Stop Your High Performers Leaving

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HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, May 17, 2021

To retain your most valuable and talented workers, you need to make the best possible start by delivering a positive onboarding experience.

Article 5 Minutes
The Secret Ingredient to Stop Your High Performers Leaving

Countless companies around the world are facing an uphill battle to find, acquire and retain the talent they need to succeed.

Gartner has identified the global skills shortage as the top emerging risk facing businesses, while Korn Ferry has warned that a scarcity of crucial capabilities could lead to 85 million jobs going unfilled by 2030, at a cost of $8.5 trillion in lost revenue.

To avoid this, you need to focus not only on recruiting and developing valuable talent, but keeping hold of the capable workers you already have. Your efforts to retain staff should start at the very beginning of every employee relationship, with excellent onboarding.

Why is onboarding so important?

Onboarding is a crucial part of the employee experience. Get it right, and you'll set a positive tone for all of your worker relationships, and also ensure every new recruit has the information and resources they need to succeed in their jobs. This will prove crucial for employee engagement, efficiency and overall productivity in the long term.

There are several key activities involved in inducting a new worker into the business, some of which should happen before their first day. Among the most important steps are:

  • Going into more depth about the job and the duties involved
  • Introducing the employee to their colleagues and other teams within the organization
  • Providing basic information such as where they can park if they need to drive to work, your dress code and where they should go on their first day

It's also important to remember that an efficiently managed onboarding process will help the HR department to run as smoothly as possible. If all of the key procedures have been carefully planned and allocated the appropriate time and resources, you can focus on engaging with the new employee and helping them to settle in, rather than worrying about paperwork and administrative tasks.

And perhaps most significantly of all, high-quality onboarding will help you retain staff. As well as being crucial to address skills shortages, a high retention rate will mitigate the financial and operational disruption of rapid employee turnover.

How onboarding connects to retention

When employees enjoy a good onboarding experience and make a positive, productive start to their working life with you, it lays the foundations for strong relationships that will stand the test of time.

Research has shown:

  • Excellent onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%
  • A negative onboarding experience will result in new recruits being twice as likely to look for opportunities elsewhere
  • 88% of organizations don't onboard well
  • One in five new hires are unlikely to recommend their employer

It's also important to think about the connections between onboarding and your employer brand. The earliest days of an employee's time with you are your best opportunity to give a strong demonstration of your brand and to show they made the right choice in deciding to accept your job offer.

This helps to fuel positive sentiment and word of mouth that will strengthen your employer brand moving forward, contributing to effective retention and recruitment in the long term.

Retain top talent by improving the onboarding process

Losing a valuable member of the team and finding a suitable replacement can be costly. One positive step every employer can take to optimize onboarding and make the entire process easier for all concerned is to get a headstart on key parts of it. For example, if there’s paperwork to be signed and contractual details to be shared, you can do this digitally before the employee even starts. Dedicated online onboarding portals make it easier to manage these jobs and also pass on positive messages that will help the new hire settle in, such as a welcome note from their manager or new teammates.

When the recruit's first day arrives, with basic admin out of the way you can focus on more worthwhile tasks such as getting to know them as an individual, introducing them to their co-workers and outlining the key expectations and objectives of their role.

As you move forward, bear in mind that the onboarding process should continue for at least three months, and possibly up to a year, depending on the nature of the business and the role. It's not something that can be completed in just a few days. HR should regularly check in with new employees over the course of their onboarding period to see how they're settling in and to answer any questions they might have.

In the modern workplace, it's particularly important to consider how you can optimize your onboarding for every employee, regardless of where they're based. The COVID-19 pandemic fuelled a global surge in remote working, and research has suggested that at least 16% of employees will continue to do their jobs from home after the crisis has eased.

While being physically separated from new employees adds a new dimension to the onboarding process, there are various measures you can implement to ensure remote workers still receive a positive experience, such as:

  • Using modern technology to make sure all employees benefit from 'face-to-face' interaction with their managers and colleagues
  • Introducing mentoring or a buddy system
  • Creating a bespoke onboarding program that’s tailored to the needs of people working remotely

Steps like these will help new recruits make a happy and comfortable start to their careers, thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll be a vital part of your workforce for many years to come.

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