What would your company look like if you could reduce employee turnover? Picture a sales department where high performers thrive, achieve stretch goals, and see a clear track for future development.

While it might seem unattainable, there is, in fact, a straightforward way to achieve this. If you want to retain top talent in 2019, then you need to take a critical look at your onboarding program.

For organisations with ambition, onboarding shouldn’t be a foreign concept. Modern HR managers know that nowadays, recruiting is just half the battle.

That’s why it bears repeating: Onboarding can make or break your company.

This guide is for companies looking to stem a negative employee turnover trend. Or ensure that all employees have an opportunity to voice their concerns and be heard before they start searching for job openings.

Onboarding: the first step after recruitment

Let’s first take a look at the overall employee journey. Just like a customer journey is a way to connect and communicate with your customer. So does onboarding strengthen an employee’s bond with the company values. The days are over when an HR manager can simply hand a new employee a laptop and an access card and wish them well. At top companies today, the journey is mapped out, starting from recruitment and progressing to onboarding, advancement and then, finally, resignation/termination/retirement.

In a competitive job market, you don’t necessarily stop competing for talent once they sign a contract with you. To reduce employee turnover, the onboarding process should reinforce the same unique selling propositions that sealed the deal in the first place.

Need more proof that investing time in onboarding can be critical? Take the case of top performers. A 2012 study of more than 600,000 athletes (amateur & professional), politicians, and researchers showed that high-performance individuals are 400% more productive than their average counterparts. This result amplifies exponentially when it comes to jobs that require a high level of expertise. Making sure these top tier employees are happy and well-established in their new roles means they are set up to start contributing to your company’s success faster.

The cost of employee turnover

Gone are the days when staying at an organisation for less than a year was seen as a “black mark” on a CV. Now it’s increasingly common, especially for members of Generation Y (millennials), to pursue better opportunities elsewhere. With no stigma to worry about, millennials are quick to look for better overall career development in response to dead-end opportunities. Or simply jump at the chance for a higher salary.

A 2016 Gallup study reported that 21% of all millennials changed jobs within the previous year, more than three times compared to other generation groups. According to Gallup, this frenzied employee turnover costs the U.S. economy more than $30 billion annually.

On a company level, the time spent replacing a full-time employee can have a limiting effect on growth. Finding new talent means lost hours searching LinkedIn and conducting interviews. Not to mention the actual monetary loss of transporting and housing candidates, among other costs. A study by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) calculated that every time a business replaces a salaried employee. It costs 6-9 months of that person’s salary to hire and onboard a replacement.

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It takes time to onboard and reduce employee turnover

Just how long does it take to bring an employee up to full speed? It varies depending on the role, the person’s expertise, and your own internal processes, but budget between 3 to 6 months before you start seeing full productivity.

At the beginning of the employee journey, it’s critical to not only associate them with the company values but help them feel included in their teams. At Netigate, we assign a “buddy” to help guide a newcomer through their first weeks. We also have them sit down 1-on-1 with heads of other departments to explain how all aspects of the company function (and how they’re intertwined).

So be patient and give your new employees the time they need to onboard. If it seems like someone is having a hard time settling in and thriving, 9 times out of 10 it’s because of a failure on the company’s part to put them in a position to succeed.

Ask for employee feedback early and often with surveys

Engage with new employees early and often. This is easy to accomplish with employee onboarding surveys or 1:1 Meetings. Managers should send these periodically throughout the onboarding period to take the new employee’s pulse. And more importantly, identify if the employee is beginning to feel unsure or disengaged with their role.

Here’s a sample of five questions you could include in an employee engagement survey. All set on a scale from 1 (highly disagree) to 5 (highly agree).

  • I have a clear understanding of my role
  • I see myself aligned with the company’s core values
  • My manager has set clear expectations for my work
  • I know my company’s strategic mission
  • I feel engaged in my work

Scores on the lower end of the scale are of course important to address immediately. But make sure to qualify positive answers as well, to see how you can continue improving on your organisation’s onboarding program and overall reduce employee turnover.

Encourage transparency

As Kim Scott mentioned in her groundbreaking book “Radical Candor,” it’s important to challenge directly and care personally when it comes to feedback. The former Google exec developed a workplace culture trend of brutal honesty that has swept across Silicon Valley and into other startup hubs.

Instil a culture where new employees are encouraged to speak their mind and use the advantage of fresh eyes to question existing processes. Weave this into an employee feedback survey as part of an open text question. Allowing the newcomer to add their input as a conclusion.

Exit interviews

You can’t reduce employee turnover entirely. At some point, an employee’s journey within the company will end. For those who chose the voluntary path, it’s important you talk with them one last time to determine what factors played a role in their departure. Build an online exit survey with ranking scales and logic jumps to get a more comprehensive picture. Was it a poor relationship with a manager? Was the compensation better elsewhere? Did they reach a point of stagnated development?

These factors are important to identify so the company can reassess structures internally.

Going forward

If one of your 2019 goals is to improve your company’s onboarding program. Together with reducing employee turnover, then please get in touch. Netigate can help design the employee evaluation surveys and pulse check-ins to improve overall employee experience. These will have your new employees feeling happier, more connected, and more productive. Or why not try us for a month and see what you think?