According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 50 percent of our nation’s hourly workers will leave a new job within the first four months. Half of outside hires placed in senior positions fail at their jobs within 18 months. Both statistics describe costly situations; a review of related studies conducted by the Center for American Progress found it costs a business an average of 20 percent of the worker’s salary to replace an employee who earns $75,000 or less a year.
Fortunately, the right onboarding process—starting before that first day on the job—can decrease expensive turnover as well as improve the satisfaction, commitment and performance of any new employee. Consider the following ways to improve onboarding at your organization.
- Post an accurate job description. If the description you’ve advertised for the job is inaccurate—e.g. missing details on skills required or performance expected—you may be setting any new hire up for failure. Before you even begin interviewing candidates for an advertised position, make sure you’ve covered all the bases and have a very clear picture of the professional most likely to succeed in the role.
- Brief your current employees. Prepare your team before the new hire’s first day. Describe his background, determine areas in which he may need training, and assign workers to facilitate the orientation and training process. Remember, few experiences feel as awkward as showing up for your first day on the job to discover no one knows who you are or what to do with you.
- Set up a workspace. Even if your new hire will be in training for a while, she needs a place of her own. Prepare her computer and phone. Set up her email account. Stock her desk with necessary supplies, and provide her with any essential safety gear. If she’s replacing an exiting employee and you don’t yet have a desk available, make sure she still has a place to store her personal belongings in the interim.
- Provide a warm welcome. Whenever possible, you should be on hand to welcome new workers on their first day. If you’re not available, choose another supervisor or senior team member to do so. Walk the new employee around the office or jobsite and introduce him to the rest of your workers while also showing him where he can find the break room, rest room and important offices.
- Follow an onboarding plan. Provide your new worker—and anyone else involved—with an itinerary for the first week. Include human resources-related tasks such as completing required documentation and enrolling in benefits as well as orientation and training activities. Set up daily meetings with the new employee throughout the week so you can check in and answer any questions or address concerns as they arise.
- Don’t forget history, culture and their place in the organization. There is a reason these professionals chose to work for your company—and it may have had little to do with pay. Teach them more about the history and mission of your business as well as your office culture and vision for the future. Remind them that you hired them to help you achieve that vision, and describe the ways in which they can use their skills to do so.
- Set expectations early. Make sure your new worker knows what you expect of her, both during the first week and the months that follow. Review and discuss the job description. Talk about individual goals and objectives. Consider monthly performance evaluations rather than a 90-day or six-month evaluation; they’ll enable you to resolve issues earlier.