The first few months of employment are a crucial time. New employees like to settle in quickly and want to know that they have made the right choice for their next career move.
They can make quick decisions on the suitability of the role too. Nearly a third start searching for a new role within the fist six months (the onboarding period) of joining a company, whilst recent research from Korn Ferry found up to 25% leaving within their first six months. This reinforced the findings in a 2006 report from Aberdeen Group that 90% of new employees use the experience of the first six months’ employment to decide on their longer-term commitment.They can make quick decisions on the suitability of the role too. Nearly a third start searching for a new role within six months of joining a company, whilst recent research from Korn Ferry found up to 25% leaving within their first six months. This reinforced the findings in a 2006 report from Aberdeen Group that 90% of new employees use the experience of the first six months’ employment to decide on their longer-term commitment.
Productivity and morale are affected by bad onboarding
There are reasons why the early months of the employment relationship are a much-researched period. No business wants the upheaval of people starting and leaving quickly, least of all the existing staff who find their routines disrupted and can easily become disengaged if they are covering for extra work. The costs associated with recruiting a new position are high, and the investment of both time and money in hiring someone is more exposed during this period, meaning delays in getting them settled and productive can be expensive. Overall productivity and morale is affected, and managers find their time diverted away from strategic planning.
Understanding the early part of the employment cycle is important. The main reason people leave within the first few months is that the role they are doing isn’t what they anticipated during the hiring process. Four in ten new hires feel this way, whilst another 20% find that they don’t like the company culture. A slightly smaller number leave because they don’t like their boss and a similar number from sensing a lack of career advancement in their role.
Am I in the right job?
There are several factors behind this, the main ones being a lack of clarity about their job roles and responsibilities and the unpreparedness of their new managers and colleagues to welcome and integrate them into the business. Sometimes this can manifest itself in new employees feeling that they are not in the right job. Overall the key to hiring and then retaining people is to start getting them aligned with the business, its vision and values, from before the start date. In other words, through a great onboarding experience.
The modern onboarding process needs to integrate and educate.
The quicker new employees become productive and fully immersed in the organisational culture, the earlier they start contributing to the overall business. This, in turn, helps them to settle and helps them feel they have made a good choice, therefore improving retention. Meanwhile, managers find they need to invest less time in training and assimilation, meaning that other team members do not feel neglected.
To make this happen all new employees need a full understanding of their role and responsibilities, and how they fit in with the overall corporate purpose, while also having the opportunity to build internal social and professional relationships with their new colleagues. They need to have the skills, tools and support to succeed, a clear vision of what performance is expected from them and an understanding of what good looks lies for the organisation. All of this needs to be covered through onboarding.
Onboarding is the decisive HR process
Research has found that effective onboarding programmes can improve employee effectiveness by over 10%, while a 2015 report from US research analysts Brandon Hall estimated that new hire retention can be improved by 82% and productivity by 70%, through better onboarding. Nearly all the research published on employee churn, and how long it takes new hires to achieve required performance standards, points to onboarding being the decisive HR process during the early months.
The modern onboarding process needs to integrate and educate. It should start at the final stage of the interview process and continue beyond the first 30 or 90 days. New hires need:
- All formalities and clearances completed digitally in advance
- Crystal clear objectives and milestones
- Clarity over their roles, responsibilities and internal relationships
- Deep understanding of the culture and vision of their new employer
All of this should be delivered through a transparent, immersive and interactive process that gives them a great experience, making them feel welcome and ready to perform and realise their potential.