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Onboarding experience key to effective employee retention

Hiring managers and new team members want flexibility, technology and support


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An employee's decision to stay with a company is usually made within the first few months on the job. It's an emotional time, as he or she has just left the comfort of one situation and is entering another that can be fraught with uncertainty, potential self-doubt and new challenges. Not to mention a possible counter-offer.

Since you've just gone through all the effort of identifying and presumably hiring the right person, don't you want to do everything possible to ensure they stay?

If so, you'll want to provide new employees with a positive onboarding experience.

Industry statistics show that more than 80 percent of all new hires decide whether or not to stay at a new company within the first six months of joining, according to a recent KPMG LLP white paper. More than half  – 58 percent – of new hires who go through an effective, enjoyable and pleasant onboarding process are likely to still be at the company three years on the job.

The onboarding process is particularly important in a city like Denver, where the unemployment rate is at 2.7 percent. This is why finding the right employees and engaging them from the outset it critical.

The onboarding experience should be much more than making sure the right forms are completed by new employees on day 1. It presents a prime opportunity to engage, build and nourish a successful employee-company relationship with your company.

From an employee's view, onboarding offers the chance to become a vital and engaged member of the corporate community. From an employer's perspective, it's a chance to build a strong new relationship that can bring significant returns on investment.

To that end, KPMG has identified five onboarding realties that should be taken into consideration to create a successful onboarding experience.

  1. A lasting employee relationship starts before day one. For employees, onboarding should be a welcoming experience that immediately demonstrates their significance to the organization. It should offer multiple interactions before, during and after the employee walks in the door in order to foster engagement, manage expectations and establish connections. Early communication can alleviate new-hire stress, initiate an instantaneous sense of inclusion and enable early productivity. An efficient, automated provisioning process will ensure that every new-hire has equipment and a workspace available upon arrival.
  2. The employee sees things differently than you do. Put yourself in your employee's shoes. Everything is new – where the pantry is, who's on the team and what processes are utilized. Human interaction before and on the first day is important to help a new employee feel connected and part of the team right away. Onboarding should offer the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about new team members and understand specifics about their new role. This interaction cannot be left to first-day orientation alone.
  3. The onboarding process can overwhelm everyone involved. The process can be overwhelming for many employees – as well as for hiring managers. A company has too many moving parts for a new employee to learn all at once, and this can also be a challenge for hiring managers who shepherd them through the process. A centralized onboarding process – designed with employee needs in mind – helps for a smooth transition and creates a positive, painless and productive experience that prioritized tasks also benefits hiring managers, who can track the new employee's onboarding progress and enable him or her to connect with their new teams.
  4. Loyal and productive employees add to your ROI. Companies that invest in their employees early on are more likely to have a successful, long-term working relationship. Employees want to be recognized as valued members of the corporate community, which directly impacts their desire to build their career with your company. The onboarding process is the first indication to the employee that you have a stake in their future.
  5. Your view of onboarding can make a big difference. New employees that have a better understanding of their role as well as the company culture will lead to increased employee morale and retention. What you put into your onboarding process will result in what your employees get out of it. Companies should view onboarding as a means to develop lifelong employees, rather than simply an effective tool to assist the administrative process.

FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION

Various technology solutions exist in today's environments to help standardize, streamline, track and coordinate every step of the process. It's a matter of finding the right tool to fit your custom needs.

It's also worth noting that employees, HR and hiring managers today want flexibility, technology, support and encouragement along the way. The right onboarding process can help meet those needs by providing a single centralized system that spans company functions, enables socialization and unites technology with human connection. And it can pay off in keeping the right employees after you've hired them.

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Mike Bearup

Mike Bearup is the office managing partner at KPMG LLP. With more than 30 years of experience in the Colorado marketplace, he provides audit and business advisory services to the technology, biotech, software, manufacturing, medical device and venture capital industries. Bearup works with a number of audit committee members on corporate governance matters.

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