U.S. employers see an average rate of turnover that exceeds 14 percent nationwide. This means that more than 1 in every 10 new hires will walk out the door, wasting time, money and company resources. Turnover is so expensive that it’s been estimated the individual cost for a minimum wage employee approaches $4,000—a cost that many employers simply cannot afford to keep absorbing.
Onboarding was developed as a way to reduce turnover by giving the employee a full introduction—both informational and cultural. The theory is that by immersing an employee into the organization’s culture, giving him or her real, meaningful assignments from an early stage, and support to reach those goals, the more likely he or she is to succeed in the position. But a poorly planned onboarding program won’t just be ineffective—it can actually hinder productivity and demoralize staff.
The following tips are based on research and reviews of onboarding programs from around the country, and are fundamental to ensuring your program gives the results you want.
- Take Your Time: Onboarding shouldn’t be a one-day activity. The best results will come over a period of several months. This will allow an employee to really explore significant topics, rather than a surface look at company issues.
- Set Structured Goals: Give the employee set expectations, tasks and goals to meet during the onboarding process.
- Include Mentoring: Develop employees from the beginning by including a coaching and mentoring program as part of onboarding.
- Include the Manager: For the employee to get the most out of the onboarding process, his or her manager must be fully invested in the program. Train managers so they understand why the program is important. Include lunches with the manager, or regular progress meetings, for example, as a part of the program.
- Combine Formal and Informal Components: Make sure the mentoring program combines both a formal and informal approach, structured tasks and loosely structured, question-and-answer format meetings, so that the onboarding occurs at all levels.
- Develop Political Savvy: Help the new employee to succeed by filling him in on critical office politics and internal relationships.
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