Do you remember the day you first started your job? It was probably a whirlwind of activity: signing forms, meeting colleagues, taking a tour of the building, completing orientation – and, of course, figuring out the coffee maker. You probably also remember clearly how you felt that first day – how your boss treated you, whether your team members were friendly and whether you could find all the information you needed. These early experiences make lasting impressions on new employees, and it’s essential that those impressions be positive if you want to set the right tone for engagement.
Our Job Seeker Survey Report shows that onboarding experiences carry long-term impacts for retention as well. Half of new hires say their experience on the first day will affect their decision to stay more than 30 days, and 41% say they would immediately start looking for another job if they had a bad onboarding experience.
Setting the Stage for Engagement: Engaged employees get more done, remain with their employers longer, build stronger relationships with customers and become enthusiastic brand ambassadors.
During onboarding, you begin building the foundation for these benefits even before your new employees receive their first paycheck. According to SHRM, a strong onboarding program will include:
- Compliance – Complete legal and policy related activities such as signing forms and presenting workplace rules.
- Clarification – Teach new employees the expectations of their new role.
- Culture – Communicate organizational norms within your company.
- Connection - Promote connection with peers and managers.
When these four elements are present, your onboarding process has the power to create engaged, productive workers, reduce turnover, increase job satisfaction and promote long-term retention.
But on a practical level, what steps can you take to achieve those goals?
How to Engage and Retain New Employees During Onboarding: In addition to dotting all the compliance i’s and crossing all the paperwork t’s, onboarding should also help new employees feel like a valuable member of the team. A warm welcome from teammates and a smooth introduction to the expectations of the new role can promote engagement and retention right from the start.
Here are 5 ways to make the most of the onboarding experience:
2. Consider Phased Onboarding – Only 8% of job seekers expect onboarding to take longer than a month, yet longer onboarding times help employees feel less confused and more confident in their roles. Conducting your onboarding process in phases that address different needs and questions over time will give new hires the support they need to do their best work. For example, create 30-, 60-, and 90-day checklists and ask managers to touch base with new employees regularly to answer questions or offer support.
3. Assign an Onboarding Buddy or Mentor – Early social connections help new hires feel more at home in the office, and that’s an important step toward engagement. It also makes it easier for them to ask for help or find answers to questions that arise as they learn the ropes.
4. Incorporate Recognition – The goal of recognition is to help employees feel valued, and that starts even before they show up on Day One. For example, send a welcome packet to a new employee’s home with a handwritten note from their manager, or have other team members sign a welcome card and have it waiting on their desk when they arrive. Look for ways the employee will contribute to your team and let them know you’re excited to have them.
5. Use Technology Strategically – Task alerts, goal-setting software, mobile apps and social platforms can all make onboarding more efficient and reduce frustrations as you connect with your new hires. Still, don’t expect technology to do all the work of relationship-building for you. Personal interactions with managers and co-workers are still essential for helping employees feel appreciated and valued.
Recognition and interaction with colleagues are important at every stage of employment, from the candidate experience all the way through onboarding and beyond. When you build these components into your onboarding process, it matures beyond paperwork and tasks into a foundational strategy that sets your new hires up for long-term engagement and retention.