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Improve Employee Retention with the Onboarding Process

Onboarding—the process of welcoming new employees to a company, helping them adapt to the company culture and equipping them for the work ahead—is a critical component of an effective employee retention strategy. An effective onboarding process engages an employee and helps them feel immediately connected to the company. But without the right strategy in place, onboarding can be a major missed opportunity for employers. HR industry studies show a staff turnover rate of up to 20% within the first 45 days of employment and yet, a Gallup poll has revealed that just 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new workers during this crucial time period.
 
“This failure gets in the way of the formation of an emotional bond between the new hire and the company—a connection that can make or break retention,” writes Ed O’Boyle and Jim Harter for the Gallup blog.
 
How can an employer curate an onboarding process that will make new hires want to stay? To ensure that employees feel welcome and set up for success, companies must take into account three components of a well-rounded onboarding process: organizational onboarding, technical onboarding and social onboarding.

1) Make organizational culture and values clear

In a 2018 Harvard Business Review piece, author Ron Carucci emphasizes the importance of “organizational onboarding.” This means equipping employees with such simple information as where to park their car, where to retrieve an ID card, how to get around the building and how to enroll in benefits plans. Employers should also make an effort to teach new hires any workplace jargon. Consider giving new hires a glossary of terms to avoid confusion and make new employees feel more comfortable, Carucci recommends.
 
Also important, Carucci says, is familiarizing new hires with the company’s values, history and brand. Taking action in this area could mean scheduling formal conversations between individual employees and hiring managers every few months, or even pairing new hires up with what Carucci calls an “organizational ‘hero’”—someone who has been with the company a long time and will set a positive behavioral example. The more emotionally connected to the company an employee feels, the more likely that individual is to stay on board for the long haul.

2) Use the right employee onboarding software

 
Carucci reminds employers that, “just because someone is hired for their capabilities and experiences, doesn’t mean they know how to deploy them at your company.” Even those with lots of experience in the field can feel like they’re beginners again when placed in a new environment with a new set of standards. This is where technical onboarding plays a critical role.
 
Be clear with new hires about your expectations of them. Make them aware of what the performance standards are, and be sure to provide any resources they should use if they find themselves struggling. Consider employee onboarding software like Cornerstone’s Recruiting Suite, which offers onboarding capabilities that allow employers to tailor the experience to each new hire’s role. Software like this both centralizes the onboarding experience—all related tasks, checklists, training materials and paperwork are in one place—and makes it easy for workers and their managers or HR to keep track of progress.
 
Using tools like this also minimizes the amount of time new hires spend getting their onboarding documents and materials organized, and gets them working sooner. An employee who feels well-equipped and properly trained for the job is more likely to feel and be successful, which goes a long way in ensuring employee retention.

3) Encourage employees to socialize

Encouraging socialization at work may seem counterintuitive. What boss wants employees chatting by the water cooler when there’s work to be done? But fostering an environment in which employees feel good around each other may actually make them more productive workers.
 
An employee who has friends at the office is more likely to be happier in his or her position, and even doing better work. Gallup reports that employees who say they have a “best friend” at work are 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work over the past seven days.
 
 
Encouraging employees to socialize with each other, and even using a social network to communicate, can facilitate relationship-building at the office. Helping new hires to build relationships with their coworkers will make them feel comfortable and supported in the workplace. Getting workers into this headspace is integral to your employee retention strategy.
 
Want to get your new hires on the right track from day one with smarter employee onboarding software? Learn more about Cornerstone’s onboarding tool, part of the Recruiting Suite.