Effective ‘Onboarding’ & Improving Employee Retention Rates

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Wed, Sep 11, 2019 @ 01:21 PM

Concentrated businessman selecting a picture on digital screenStatistics vary, but a general rule of thumb is that 35-45% of all new employees will leave the company that hires them within two years.  One piece of the data that is consistent is that the rule of thumb applies to all industries and sectors, high wage earners and workers making minimum wage, young and old, male and female.  That statistic should stun managers, supervisors, and business owners and should serve as a “call to arms” encouraging companies to study how they hire and orient new employees to their jobs. 


Employee turnover costs companies in several ways.  First of all, depending on the job description/position within the company, training can take six to eight months.  For some positions, employees don’t reach their full potential for a year.  A third (33%) of new employees will at least look for another job within six months and up to 15% will move on to another position within that timeframe. Employees in their training period are costing companies their salary and not producing to their full potential.  Second, the time that supervisors, managers, and even peers spend training these new employees is wasted when a new employee resigns before they become productive.  Finally, recruitment costs money.  Be it an ad in the local paper, setting up at job fairs, or even time spent on the phone and in person talking to potential new employees—it’s a tangible, real cost to a company. 

Cutting down on turnover and improving the success rate of employee recruitment and retention saves a company precious resources.  This simple philosophy is easy to understand but not always easy to implement in our busy, ever-changing industry. 

It’s pretty difficult to solve a problem when you don’t understand why you have it.  So, the first order of business is to figure out why you are losing employees.  This can be done by the use of exit interviews.  Talk to other employees within a department and find out what the “word on the street” is within the company.  What do the employees like about their job and working for a company?  And what do they NOT like about it?  Measure and pay attention to employee satisfaction.  Remember that money isn’t the only or most important motivator for most people.  Intrinsic job satisfaction, feeling like part of the team, and having successes acknowledged are a large part of what drives most employees. 


Once your company understands why it is important to find, hire, and keep good employees, design a formal onboarding process that maximizes education and team building.  Build the team with a goal of 100% employee retention. 

Important aspects of the process include:

  • The process starts during the interview and job offer. Be sure to clearly communicate what the job responsibilities are verbally and in writing.
  • At hire, communicate the timeframe for training and orientation, along with expectations for productivity after that initial training period is completed.
  • Ease “first day jitters.” Make the new employee feel welcome from the beginning.  Introduce them to all staff and tour them around the entire facility, not just their workspace. 
  • Provide not only training and education, but also peer mentoring and coaching. Assign each new employee a peer mentor who serves as their point of contact with questions about the company and their position. 
  • Be careful not to overload a new employee with too much information at one time. Think about it; they are receiving a lot of new information to process.  While we can’t take the time to spoon-feed an employee, perhaps dividing up the information into sections or modules will help them retain the information and decrease the inevitable intimidation that comes with a new job. 
  • Schedule regular face-to-face meetings to follow up on the training/orientation process. This is a time to communicate updates on progress from the company’s perspective to the new employee.  It is also a good time for them to let you know how things are going from their perspective. 
  • Use competency assessments and performance evaluations regularly to assess where in the process a new employee is. Accreditation standards address MINIMUM standards and timeframes for requirements, but companies can certainly use this helpful tool more frequently. 
  • Onboarding, training, and education all go hand in hand and all are ongoing processes. Don’t think of them as something that only occur during the first few weeks or the first ninety days.  Schedule regular follow up.  Expand the mentoring process beyond the orientation period to foster good relationships within the employee ranks. 

The key to just about all of the points listed above is clear, consistent communication.  Your team will do a better job for you if your clearly communicate the expectations.  They will also work better together if they are clearly communicating with each other. 

A company that does all of this will most likely still have turnover, but the key is to minimize its occurrence.  Once you have found these excellent employees, do all you can to hold on to them and grow the business together. 


Topics: Employee Training, Quality Improvement, Process Improvement, Competence, Business Practices