During the past several years many organizations enjoyed what felt like a relatively low turnover rate. Many leaders thought that the reason turnover had decreased was because of the downturn in the economy. That’s not entirely accurate. Long term employees were holding on, but new hires still turned over at an astonishing rate. As the 2014 Equifax research shows, on average, more than half of all employees who left their job in the past year did so within the first twelve months.
Concerned? You should be. The average cost to recruit a single new employee is well over $4,000 and will take on average 42 days to fill the vacancy (SHRM study 2016). This figure does not reflect the time spent or the decrease in morale as the search drags on. Since the rate of turnover is potentially the highest during the first year, let’s take a closer look at one way we can stop the hemorrhage.
There is a misperception shared by many of today’s leaders that orientation and on-boarding are essentially one and the same. They are not. Simply stated, orientation comprises the tactical tasks to complete in order to get an employee ready to get to work, for example, computer login registration, physical building access, facility tours, and a basic HR overview of policies such as benefits and the employee handbook.
So, how is on-boarding different? On-boarding is assimilating your new employee to the culture of your organization. It is about introducing your new employee to your organization’s values, its norms, providing a recipe that lists the ingredients of what makes up your organization’s culture, and how they can blend effectively with them to create a desirable end product, leading to the greater success of your organization as a whole. An effective program helps the new employee align themselves to your Mission, Vision and Values. This is a very important step to organizational success.
Want to create an effective on-boarding program? Consider these 4 steps.
Step #1: Use a Focus Group
Create a focus group that consists of the most recent six people you hired. These are the individuals who best know what does and doesn’t work— they’ve just lived through it! Task the focus group facilitator with developing a list of items that should be included in the on-boarding program. And, once your HR leader develops the final program, schedule the focus group to meet again to ensure the legitimacy of the program.
Step #2: Build Employee Development into the Process
Ensure job description review, refinement, and updating are all a part of your process. Have every new employee consult with co-workers and corresponding leaders to update their job description so that they have full ownership. Have them present to their leader the key areas of development for promote-ability based on future career assignments. Get them thinking about their own development now, not after they tire of their position.
Step #3: Build in Key Meetings with Various Stakeholders
Arrange for new employees to meet with a different manager in separate departments several times over the course of some months. Earlier in my career, we built a process at the Quaker Oats Company where all new employees or transferees would go to lunch with different department managers and several members of their department. It is a fantastic way for new employees to feel part of the Mission of the organization.
Step #4: Ensure New Employees Own the Process
Create a checklist for employees to follow and update going forward. Have them meet with their manager twice a month to discuss how the process is working. Ensure participation is built into their 90-day review. Holding them accountable will ensure they take an active role in the process.
One thing is for sure—most organizations have veered away from progressive HR programs in the last several years, losing time and money, as well as valuable employees.
Isn’t it time you started focusing on the fundamentals and take the time to bring your people on board correctly? After all, people are your most valuable resource. It’s one of the best investments you can make in the long-term success of your organization.
What on-boarding programs have you had success with?