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Retaining great employees begins with the hiring and onboarding process. It is a critical part of any organization’s overall strategy for employee engagement, retention, and productivity. 

What might surprise you is that an employee’s future with your company is decided in the early days and weeks of a new job. Research show that successful onboarding makes new employees feel welcomed and prepared for success. 

Let’s delve a little deeper to learn how to provide the best onboarding experience for new employees in 2023 and why it matters. 

Why Some New Hires Don’t Last Through Onboarding

Starting a new job can be an intimidating process. There’s a lot to learn, it can be overwhelming, and it often involves navigating complicated systems and processes.  

Despite the best efforts of employers, some new employees may choose to quit during onboarding. 

Courtney Palmer, the Managing Director of Corporate Talent Strategy at Insight Global, advise companies should aim to overcommunicate during those early days and weeks. 

“…it can be an unsettling time for a new employee who is already taking a leap of faith. Employees are evaluating you, your shared values, and the company culture. We need to be proactively giving information and reassurance.”, she says. 

If not, these uncertainties, can lead to higher attrition rates.  

According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), new hires decide how long they will stay with a company in the first six months of employment. A different survey reveals 20% of new hires resign within the first 45 days. 

Meanwhile, new hires who went through a structured onboarding process are more than twice as likely (58%) to still be with the same company three years later. 

Your onboarding experience is critical for much more than ensuring your new employee knows how to do their job and where to find the bathroom. It’s both a short-term and long-term investment in their success—and the future of your company. 

“The first 30 days are crucial,” explains Palmer. New hires make decisions about their trajectory with a company quickly that it can make or break long-term employee engagement. 

What You Can Do to Improve Your Company’s Onboarding Experience 

Onboarding a new employee is one of the most important stages in creating a successful business. It sets the tone for all future interactions and can determine whether an employee feels welcomed, supported, and motivated as they start their career with your company.  

However, according to recent Gallup polls, only 12% of employees had a positive onboarding experience, and only 29% felt prepared and supported in their new role. Companies suffer when turnover rates are high, both financially and in terms of team productivity, but this is exacerbated when someone leaves within the first few months. 

Improving your company’s onboarding experience is beneficial to both employees and employers alike. Recent studies reveal that positive onboarding experience can boost employee retention by 50%.  

Unfortunately, common challenges in the onboarding process can slow down this process and even create conflicts with existing team members. The following are the most common challenges and how to solve them. 

1. Give More Transparency 

Transparency during the recruiting and hiring process will help streamline the transition into a successful pre-boarding phase, laying the groundwork for a smooth and efficient onboarding and transition.  

More than 75% of employees want more transparency, and 30% have quit a job due to a lack of transparency. Increased transparency leads to increased employee satisfaction. Most employees with transparent employers reported being satisfied with their jobs. 

2. Always Plan Ahead 

You shouldn’t wait until an employee’s first day to think about training and acclimating them to their environment. Map out what their first week and first thirty days will look like before their first day, whether it’s a formalized process or something you’ve put together on your own as their manager. 

“People are eager to get up and running quickly and to be productive… Don’t rush someone in the door to be productive” Palmer says, admitting that a lack of planning sets new hires up for failure.  

Onboarding doesn’t go well when you rush people into starting work without giving them time to adjust and become acquainted with the environment.  

Palmer also claims that switching from randomized to strategic start dates helped resolve some of her company’s planning issues.  

“It looked like we weren’t prioritizing our new hires,” she explains. When start dates were random, the company struggled to ensure that people had their workspaces set up as well as the necessary equipment and program access. 

In addition, you should encourage employees to spend meetings learning rather than producing. It would be great if they catch on quickly and naturally, but don’t rush the process. Allow new employees time to learn about the team, the business, and the strategies. 

3. Encourage a Sense of Belonging 

Creating a sense of belonging is an important aspect of onboarding that is often overlooked. High belonging has been linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risks, and even a significant reduction in the use of sick days.  

These improvements in employee productivity, engagement, and attendance can result in millions of dollars in cost savings and increased revenue. 

“It’s important for new hires to see that there’s a place for them and that they belong,” Palmer says.  

She emphasizes the importance of simple things like spelling names correctly, having a desk prepped and equipment set up, and creating a welcoming environment to help new hires feel safe and wanted. 

4. Set Aside Time to Communicate

Palmer recommends setting aside a day to have a one-on-one conversation with new employees.  

Make it clear to new hires that you are invested in their success at the company, demonstrate how thrilled you are to have them, maintain vigilance over their ongoing development, and establish clear guidelines for both parties. 

5. Encourage More Engagement During Onboarding

New hires benefit from being active participants in their own onboarding. During the interview process, you should encourage potential employees to ask questions.  

Encourage them to ask about the work culture, a day in the life at the company, the current state of the team and the company, growth potential, current technologies, processes in place, or anything else that’s on their mind. 

Then be honest when you answer employee questions. Remember, employees want transparency and will likely quit if they feel a lack of it.  

Be transparent during onboarding and training experiences and offer feedback for improvements. 

Final Thoughts

Onboarding new employees in 2023 is certainly going to be quite different than what we have become accustomed to. It will take a focused effort from both the employer and the new hire to ensure a positive transition into the organization.  

Employers and hiring managers should consider implementing some (or all) of the tips mentioned above to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible for their new team members. 

Start building your dream team today! 

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