Your New Hire Retention Begins Before Onboarding

April 4, 2023

HR and communication pros know that onboarding can be a make-or-break period in the employee lifecycle.

It’s your first opportunity to get new employees acclimated to the company culture and empower them to be successful in their roles. The importance just can’t be overstated considering 31% of employees quit in the first 6 months and the cost of turnover can be astronomical, ranging from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary.    

But the reality is, the onboarding process begins before you even start reading resumes and applications. Here are five questions to explore before you click that “submit” button on your job listing:   

1. Do Your Job Postings Give an Accurate Vision of the Role and team?  

It doesn’t matter how fantastic your onboarding program is if you’re not able to provide an accurate representation of the company, culture or job responsibilities. In fact, two of the three top turn-offs for applicants looking for a new role in 2023 are unclear or unreasonable job responsibilities and misalignment with the company culture and values.  

The first step is making sure that the listed roles and responsibilities in the job description are accurate and accomplishable. There are few things worse than the excitement of starting a new job being immediately crushed by the sense of overwhelm and unease that comes from unrealistic expectations and realizing the listed job description was a bait-and-switch.    

2. Does Your Careers Site Truly Reflect Life at Your Company?  

Next, if you don’t have a clear perspective on what you’re offering to candidates, developing or refreshing your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) will help you communicate this. At its core, your EVP answers the all-important question for candidates and employees: “What’s in it for me?

An EVP captures the unique characteristics and ways of working that make your company unique. We like to think of an EVP as a promise you make to your people about the value they can receive by choosing to build their careers with your company.   

Once you’ve put pen to paper (and gotten buy-in from the relevant stakeholders and employees to make sure you're living up to these promises!), you want to make sure your story is clear and consistent across the candidate experience. This language should be incorporated throughout your careers site, social media (including LinkedIn and Glassdoor) and all job descriptions to help paint a clear picture of what it looks like working at your company.   

It’s as simple as this: if you’re accurate and honest about what an employee can expect to experience when they take a position with you, they’re more likely to self-select in AND stick around. EVPs can be tricky but we love partnering with clients to uncover what makes them special and help them tell their stories. If you need help, we’re here!   

Additional Resources You’ll Love From Brilliant Ink:  

3. Is The Team Ready To Be Welcoming?  

You can’t assume that everyone on the team is naturally outgoing and ready to give your new team member a warm welcome. Whether it’s asking certain individuals to grab lunch with them through the first week, setting up quick 10-minute introductory chats on Zoom, or offering help on a specific task, everyone on a team should play a role in creating a welcoming environment for their new colleague.   

Onboarding is a team sport – everyone on the team can play a role in setting new team members up for success! Make it collaborative, and make sure you’ve provided clear expectations across the organization on how your teams will interface with and welcome new hires in their first couple of weeks. (We’ve helped our clients create Culture Guides and Onboarding Toolkits to help accomplish just this!)   

Read about remote onboarding programs we love

4. Do You Know How Your Most Recent New-Hires Feel About the Onboarding Process?  

At Brilliant Ink, we believe that feedback is a gift at every stage of the employee lifecycle. If onboarding-related questions aren’t included in your overall employee engagement survey, work with HR to get those added. If there is no employee engagement survey, work with HR to get one started!   

Meanwhile, ask your recently hired team members how the onboarding process was for them – what they liked, didn’t like, what felt unclear, what was missing, etc. – and take steps to make improvements before your next new hire is ready to start. Better yet, develop a pulse survey to gather feedback from all of your new hires at major milestones to understand exactly where you can improve your process and how.    

Onboarding Survey Resources: 

5. What Can You and your new hire Get Done Before day one?  

The average onboarding experience includes roughly 54 activities! From offer letters, employment contracts, government forms, direct deposit authorizations, employee benefits, documentation, emergency contact forms… and the list goes on… it’s no wonder onboarding can feel so overwhelming.    

So, consider where you can “pre-board.”   

  • What paperwork needs to get done before day one?
  • What technology platforms does your new hire need access to?
  • What materials can you send through for review to help them get acclimated and excited before they walk in the door?

While filling out mundane paperwork is a necessary evil when you start a new job, it doesn’t have to be the worst experience. Combine as many forms as you can, do as much pre-work for your new hire as possible, and be ready with instructions to help them complete the essential paperwork seamlessly – while also finding ways to add a little excitement and your company's personality.  

Pre-boarding requires joint work between HR, communications, the hiring manager and individuals who will be working closely with the new employee after they start. It’s a lot of up-front work that will help make sure your new hire has a great perception of the company and is ready to get going before their first day.   

Onboarding Starts Before Day 1   

Your proactivity can be the difference between having an ongoing high-turnover rate and having a team of long-term employees with institutional knowledge and great relationships across the organization. But if you can paint an accurate picture of life at your company in the job post, prepare your hiring managers and teams to make a great impression, and regularly pulse and iterate on your onboarding, you’ll be in much better shape!  

With that prep work done, your new hire will feel the collaborative spirit, see your organization and attention to detail, be empowered to start contributing, and as a result will be more likely to stay with the company for the long run.  

Read our blog about memorable onboarding to wow your new hires

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Lauren James

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