The Onboarding Experience; A Key Contributor to Employee Retention

Posted by Jesse Applehans on 5/3/19 9:36 AM

In Employee Engagement, onboarding, employee experience

Retention strategies are often thought of as tactics used to re-engage existing employees and reduce their likelihood of leaving after a period of employment.  In reality, retention should be thought of as a primary focus to be strategized upon and implemented from the moment the employee gets hired. 

The recruiting process can be an optimal opportunity for organizations to promote their unique brand, culture, and benefits to initially engage candidates, however, it is crucial that these values are held consistent as soon as the candidate is transitioned into an active employee.  Failing to deliver on promises made during recruitment can cause immediate misalignment between the employer and employee, which in effect can lead to a negative perception of the business and therefore a higher probability of turnover.

The employee experience, defined as a worker’s perception of his or her employment (https://searchhrsoftware.techtarget.com/definition/employee-experience), can often times influence a business in a number ways, particularly if the worker undergoes a negative employee experience.  In today’s recruiting and employment landscape, the “Yelp Effect” is a game changer when it comes to employees choosing their desired place of work.  Candidates and employees who encounter a negative recruiting or onboarding process are inclined to share that experience with their peers.  According to HR Technologist, 60% of job seekers encounter a bad candidate experience and 72% of which will share their experience on social networks. Consequently, candidates who are searching for employment are just as likely to read those reviews and take them into consideration prior to moving forward with a job opportunity.  This “Yelpification” of today’s labor market further emphasizes the need for companies to not only promote, but most importantly follow through with delivering a positive onboarding experience.  By fostering a more engaging ramp-up process, employees will be more willing and likely to refer friends to future openings (which has proven to be the 4th highest source of applicant traffic, making up 50% of all internal hires in the talentReef system), preform better, and stay longer in the organization.

As stated by Forbes, “HR industry studies show that a great amount of staff turnover (possibly as high as 20 percent) can happen within the first 45 days of employment. (Side note: it costs between $3,000 and $18,000 to replace quitters.)” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2013/07/19/how-not-to-lose-your-new-employees-in-their-first-45-days/#1fb8c1603be3) This tells us that the onboarding process should not just be looked at as a one-day event focused on filling out paperwork and rushing employee’s onto the floor.  Rather, onboarding should be seen as an opportunity to engage employees with the company culture, introduce and welcome them to the team,  begin a process of ongoing training and immediate feedback, develop a sense of purpose, and continually build the excitement that the employee felt when they received the job offer.

Simply put, there should be a seamless handoff from the candidate to employee phase with consistent messaging and positive interactions throughout each step.  Putting emphasis on a more involved onboarding process will help continually cultivate of the core company values and goals beyond just that first day or first week of hire.  Employees will have more of an opportunity to truly connect with the brand and start experiencing the positive culture in their day to day work.  Recruiting is certainly the first step to displaying a strong employment brand, but putting a larger focus on retention at the start of employment is the best way to create a long-lasting and positive employment experience, therefore contributing to reduced turnover rates and increased employee retention in the long run. 

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