To Retain New Hires, Spend More Time Onboarding Them.

The demand for companies to retain top talent isintensifying. One report suggests that employeeretention is the number one issue on the minds of CEOs today — not just in theU.S., but around the world. And yet, companies often spend very little timeonboarding new hires. A standardized onboarding process is essential giving that up to 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 daysof employment.

Ron Carucci is co-founder and managing partner atNavalent.In a recent report, he recounts his experience as a consultant forFortune 500 companies, he says that the “most effectiveorganizations onboard new hires for the duration of their first year —their most vulnerable period — and focus on three key dimensions: theorganizational, the technical, and the social. By using this integratedapproach, they enable their employees to stay, and to thrive.”

Organizational Onboarding

Teach them how things work. Thefirst and most common part of onboarding is teaching new employees theinformation they need to function day in and day out: where to park their carand get an ID card, how to navigate the building, how to enrol in healthbenefits and educate themselves on regulations and policies. Beyond this, it’salso important to teach them your workplace “language.” There’s almost always alitany of cryptic acronyms that company’s use for key processes or roles —decoding them can be one of the most distressing challenges for new hires. Themore a new hire must awkwardly ask, “Sorry, I’m new…what does SSRP stand for?”the more they feel like an outsider. Simple tools, like glossaries of terms, goa long way.

Help them assimilate. Organizationsmust be intentional about helping new hires adapt to organizational values andnorms, especially during that first year. At key intervals — three, six, andnine months — hiring managers should formally engage them in conversationsabout the organization’s history and brand, how performance is measured andrewarded, and how growth opportunities arise. You should also encourageorganizational “heroes,” or people held up as exemplary, to connect with newhires and share personal stories that demonstrate valued behaviours.

Technical Onboarding

Define what good lookslike. Just because someone is hired for theircapabilities and experiences, doesn’t mean they know how to deploy them at yourcompanyNew hires with deep areas of expertise can become insecurewhen they suddenly feel like beginners. They may even resort to citing pastsuccesses to prove their competence, which can alienate them more and exhausttheir colleagues — who might get tired of hearing a new team member start eachsentence with, “In my last job.” To avoid this dilemma, communicate clearlyfrom day one. Provide your new hire with a job description that includeswell-defined accountabilities and any boundaries around authority or availableresources they should be aware of. Clearly outline their decision rights tohelp them understand where their autonomy begins and ends. It’s also valuableto schedule weekly coaching sessions to check in and ensure they haveopportunities to make meaningful contributions as soon as possible.


Set up early wins. Giving newhires clear goals is another powerful strategy because it allows you to sharerealistic expectations. An astounding 60% of companies report that they do notset short-term goals for new hires. A good way to start is to assign tasks withan expectation that they be completed at the three, six, and nine-month marks.Start with targets you are confident your new hires can meet. If all goes well,gradually increase the level of responsibility associated with each task. Thiswill help build trust and show them that you are paying attention. Through thisprocess, you can openly discuss gaps in their skill set and work to close them.During check-ins, encourage them to share their growth areas and discouragethem from “faking it.” New hires that feel grounded in their contribution andunderstand how it fits into the larger organization gain confidence and feelloyal faster.

Social Onboarding

Build a sense ofcommunity.  Recent research reveals that 40% of adultsreport feeling lonely . This sense of isolation is amplified for new hires —who often feel like a stranger in a foreign land — and can increase their chances of leaving ajob.

Building relationships during their first year canhelp new hires feel less isolated and more confident. New hires, in partnershipwith their manager, should identify 7-10 people — superiors, peers, directreports, and internal and external customers — whose success they willcontribute to, or who will contribute to their success. The new hire shouldthen craft plans to connect with each stakeholder, one-on-one, during theirfirst year. This can be a short meeting over coffee or lunch — an opportunityto learn and ask for guidance. In addition to stakeholder cultivation, buildingsocial capital with teammates daily helps build camaraderie and trust. When newhires feel accepted and welcomed, they are less likely to feel like the new kidon the block.

If you want to retain the talent you spend goodmoney to acquire, make sure a new hire’s first year is positive and productive.Organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 62% greater new hire productivity, alongwith 50% greater new hire retention. Thosethat invest time and effort in their new employees reap the benefits. If youwant to be an employer of choice for top talent, make sure a new hire’sorganizational, technical, and social needs are well met.