Keep the Human Touch in Onboarding and Boost Retention


Keeping turnover low and ensuring proper retention levels is critically important to any organizationespecially in a low unemployment environment. The costs associated with sourcing, onboarding and training new workers is a sunken one. If your new hires split early on, all that money is lost, never to be recovered. This is why it is so important to understand what prompts a new hire to leave soon after beginning a new job and how you as a workforce manager can boost retention among new hires.

First the painful statistics. According to research printed in credible outlets such as Forbes magazine and, nearly a quarter of all staff turnover (22%) occurs within the first 45 days of engagement. Ooof!  In 2016, VMS software company, BambooHR performed a survey of 1005 US-based employees over the age of 24 to examine the factors prompting them to quit jobs in the past. This survey revealed that 31% of respondents had quit a job within the first six months. Clearly, one quarter to one third of all new employees learn something about their new jobs once they begin and they decide to depart.

It is pretty obvious that there is a disconnect between the employer and the employee that begins during onboarding. Let’s examine the top five reasons workers in the BambooHR survey noted for why they left their new jobs quickly after beginning. From the BambooHR report:

“Here are the top five reasons U.S. workers gave for leaving new jobs shortly after being hired:

  • Changed mind on work type (in other words, they were still deciding on their career path and it turns out they didn’t like the one they’d chosen)
  • The work was different than they expected (in other words, the job description didn’t accurately reflect the position)
  • My boss was a jerk (so employers need to be more careful about not putting tyrants in charge)
  • Didn’t receive enough training (in other words, employees don’t want to be thrown to the wolves unprepared), and
  • The job wasn’t fun (in other words, the job description failed new hires again).”

Here are some simple, effective ideas, steps and strategies for improving the efficacy of your organization’s onboarding practices and other new hire activities.

According to the response data from the survey, respondents noted four things they need to experience in the critical first week or two. Not surprisingly, they noted on-the-job-training as most critical. Following the old “OJT” they also wanted clear reviews of company policies. Nobody wants to be thrown to the wolves and held accountable for their output if they haven’t been shown processes and made clear of the expectations.

Next, those surveyed said it would be highly beneficial to receive a tour of the company and a rundown of the equipment/tools that have been prepared for them so they can be ready to operate from day one. Don’t throw new hires into the mix without providing them with the lay of the land and the infrastructure they’ll need to perform within.

Last, respondents said being paired with a mentor or buddy in the beginning was key to making them feel comfortable with both the tasks required and the culture to which they will be contributing.

Some respondents said the mentor/buddy figure should be from among those to whom they report directly. Others said the mentors should come from HR. Others still pointed to other workers from the same department, or a dedicated trainer. Regardless, the commonality was the desire for someone to provide some guidance early on.

While many organizations engage technology like vendor management systems (VMS) to improve onboarding processes focused on regulatory and insurance requirements (among others), this can yield a false sense of security around the pursuit of efficiency in onboarding. Remember that the first word in human resources is “human.” And while technology may improve important business processes, it is no substitute for the human touch. A wise organization accommodates both the technological needs as well as the very human needs driving the employer/employee relationship. Better onboarding means better interpersonal connections yielding lower turnover rates.

Click below to register for our free webinar on Wednesday, February 21.

More Articles