Most people in the workforce have at least one (but typically more) stories of onboarding horror. Managers not knowing they were starting that day. Showing up for a new job and not having a workspace. “Training” that consists of sitting in a tiny room reading manuals all day long. These stories are amusing, but take note; most people with an onboarding horror story don’t work at that organization any longer. The first days and weeks on the job cement an employee’s feelings about the company and their job. A bad experience can be difficult, if not impossible to overcome.
Little Changes to Onboarding Go a Long Way Towards Retention
According to research from Harvard Business School, most companies need only make small adjustments to their onboarding practices in order to improve retention. Programming that helps immerse the employee in company culture, organizational history and company policies and procedures are important. These types of programs help a new employee connect their work to the overarching mission of the company and sets them on the right path from day one.
Furthermore, the research suggests by focusing on a new employee’s individuality and their unique contributions, they will get more productivity from that person. They tested that theory by changing one hour of training on an employee’s first day of work. The turnover rate was 47.2 percent lower than the control group with just 60 minutes of focus on individuality, and those employees received higher customer satisfaction scores than the control group seven months later.
Onboarding and Retention by the Numbers
The Aberdeen Group has been researching the ways in which onboarding impacts retention for nearly a decade. Their findings are quite clear. In their most recent report, they note the difference between two groups they have dubbed “Best in Class” and “Laggards.” According to their data:
- 71 percent of employees exceed performance expectations in Best-in-Class companies
- 14 percent of employees of Laggard organizations exceed expectations
- 85 percent of first choice candidates accepted an offer at Best-in-Class organizations
- 8 percent of first choice candidates accepted an offer at Laggard companies
- 72 percent of employees rated themselves highly engaged at Best-in-Class companies
- 9 percent of employees of Laggard organizations rate themselves highly engaged
It’s easy to see how putting more thought and effort into the onboarding process can pay dividends in the form of long-term retention rates and the ability to recruit top talent. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that nearly 25 percent of the American workforce makes a career change every single year. The cost of turnover is high, and businesses that struggle to retain good people could be well served by examining their onboarding practices.