We’re having a problem with new hires leaving shortly after they start. What can we do?
Turnover is challenging and costly, and it happens for many different reasons. In order to solve the problem, you first need to understand its causes. Exit interviews with departing employees can shed light on the reasons for their departure. But if exit interviews aren’t feasible, start by reviewing your recruitment and onboarding processes.
First, take a critical look at your job descriptions, job postings, screening criteria, and interview questions, as well as the background information that is shared with candidates. Do they accurately describe the job details, expectations, and work environment? Two of the main reasons employees cite for leaving their jobs within the first six months are “their jobs were different from what they expected in the interview” and “their boss was a jerk.”
During the recruitment process, it is imperative to be transparent about the job, your company, and the hiring manager. If the job involves difficult or unpleasant work, disclose that to the applicant. If the hiring manager is highly demanding, make that known during the recruitment process. An employee who has a realistic preview of the job won’t be surprised by what he or she finds on the first day and will therefore be less likely to leave quickly.
Next, examine your onboarding. A good onboarding plan is exactly that: a plan. Onboarding doesn’t just happen organically, but is designed well before an employee’s first day and is built around the information, tools, resources, and training needed to set him or her up for success in the new role. A good onboarding plan should include the following components:
- Company information. Acquaint new employees with the company’s history, mission, culture, people, markets, operations, and goals. Consider putting together a welcome packet that includes this information along with an organization-themed gift (such as a shirt, mug, or other item with the company logo).
- Company policies and procedures. Inform new employees about the company policies and procedures that affect their work, including payroll and pay schedules, time tracking, benefits and perks, keys, equipment, handbook, emergency procedures and contact numbers, time off (including breaks, sick days, vacation days, and holidays), dress code, smoking policy, and parking.
- Job information. This may include a job description, an organization chart, details about the reporting structure, procedures manuals, and information about the performance evaluation process.
Another way to make onboarding more successful is to assign a mentor or buddy to each new hire. A mentor can help the new hire acclimate to your company and to his or her new job, serves as an information source (to broker introductions to other employees, for example, and to explain company lingo and unwritten rules), and provides on-the-job guidance (by clarifying assignments, pointing out available tools and resources, etc.). A good mentor or buddy often has the following experience, traits, and skills:
- Strong performance history and pride in his or her work and in the organization
- Thorough understanding of the new employee’s job
- Broad knowledge of the department’s operations and the company’s operations
- Adequate time to spend with the new employee
- Patience, good communication skills, and the ability to serve as a positive role model
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Open, two-way communication from the beginning of the recruitment process will help you ensure that new hires’ questions and concerns are addressed. It also allows you to provide timely feedback and guidance on their performance. Set milestones to check in with them to be sure they receive effective onboarding and are integrating into their jobs, utilizing the onboarding plan, and performing as expected. If you seize the opportunity to leverage new employees’ excitement, energy, and readiness to learn, you can positively shape how they approach their jobs and how they feel about your organization—and therefore improve retention and decrease turnover.
Strategic Human Resources Inc. is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.