Great employee onboarding is the foundation of retention

Written by: Jules Rollet | Illustrated by: Officevibe team
Published on: September 28, 2021 |  Reading time: 7m

This article is a guest post from Softstart, the all-in-one onboarding platform to start your new hires off on the right foot.

As all good things usually come to an end, saying goodbye to great employees who leave in pursuit of different opportunities is something every manager will face. And every ending marks a new beginning. In this case, the hiring, onboarding and training of fresh, new talent.

However, the pandemic has brought on a surge of resignations unlike ever before. Millions of employees are quitting at exponential rates now that restrictions are lifting and offices are reopening. What gives? And how can we prevent employees from leaving?

The truth is, the employee mindset has changed. A job is no longer just about the pay or even the perks. When it comes to work, people expect more, and employers must offer more to achieve better employee retention. It all begins with onboarding.

Opportunities for the post-pandemic work dynamic

Many companies are now employing a new generation of employees. And for many of these new employees, work as it used to be simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

After all, remote work has given employees a true sense of work-life balance: less commuting, more family time, and the option of living somewhere you love rather than by convenience of office proximity. And employees who are happier and more fulfilled in their personal lives are ultimately more engaged, collaborative and productive at work.

Remote work at large is now proven to work just as well as (if not better than, in some cases) full-time in-office attendance. Employees and employers have both experienced the benefits of an alternative work dynamic. As we move forward post-pandemic, these learnings are helping more and more employers identify opportunities to attract new talent and increase retention rates.

Smart employers are adapting their employment offers to match this new reality. They’re offering flexible work agreements, upgrading equipment, programs and processes to better connect virtually, and investing more into things like personal development and mental health for their employees. They’re seeing the ROI of investing in retention, and the true cost of turnover on their teams.

Looks like you really can have the best of both worlds!

As an employer, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you offer flexibility around where and when people do their work? 
  • Are you fostering a supportive working environment? 
  • Do you encourage bond-building between colleagues?
  • Are you really getting to know your employees and what makes them happy?

Preparing to onboard a new generation of employees

With a surge in resignations comes a surge in hiring activities. Companies have quickly shifted their employment offers and adapted their company culture to “get it right” with this new generation of employees from the get go. Here are some ways you can prepare for your new team members.

  • Adapt to remote or distributed work: The hours employees gain from less commuting allows for more time to rest, or less financial strain with gas or late daycare costs, which creates happier, more productive employees. Offering workplace flexibility is a must in the modern workforce.
  • Boost employee recognition: Employees have gone through a lot this past year, from losing loved ones, to cancelling milestone events, or suffering from isolation. Acknowledging achievements and rewarding hard work can go a long way in making people feel confident, seen and supported.
  • Conduct stay interviews: Typically, companies conduct exit interviews with employees when they resign to collect feedback. But managers should be conducting stay interviews to gauge how things are going and improve the employee experience before it’s too late. 
  • Less corporate culture, more human culture: Employees spend more time at work and than they do with their families, so employers need to create an environment that they look forward to. Fostering colleague bonds, showing empathy and consideration, and applying small gestures of gratitude makes a difference.

Setting the tone for employee retention with onboarding

When trying to fix or improve anything, one must assess the foundation. Onboarding is the structure in which your new employees are welcomed into your company, ensuring they feel confident within their new role and team. Onboarding sets the tone for the rest of your new employee’s experience at your company, and good onboarding makes a big difference in employee engagement down the line. This is why onboarding is so important to your employee retention efforts.

After all, making a good first impression helps make a lasting one. A new employee’s initial excitement can turn into long-lasting pride and commitment towards their job. In the long run, engaged employees stay, and act as ambassadors for the company, a positive ripple effect of strong engagement.

Plus, new talent tend to trust companies who demonstrate having high employee retention rates more. When more employees stay with a company, it sends the message that this company is one worth working at.

The proof is in the numbers

  • Great onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, according to a Glassdoor survey. The survey also suggested that great onboarding leads to 70% higher employee productivity.
  • Employees are 2x more likely to look for other job opportunities if they’ve had a negative onboarding experience, as pointed out by Digitate.
  • 50% of employees are more likely to stay after 3 years if they had a great onboarding experience, according to Contract Recruiter.

5 Tips to improve your employee onboarding process

While many companies have integrated onboarding as part of hiring and training new hires, many miss the mark. So if you’re going to onboarding employees, do it well.

A company’s secret weapon for onboarding
Softstart allows you to create engaging, personal and meaningful onboarding experiences by offering you a variety of onboarding plans you can customize for each new hire. It’s a collaborative platform that works just as well for remote onboarding, where you can involve other team members to help design onboarding experiences to welcome newcomers—from recording video messages to building easy-to-follow checklists.

Tip #1: Make it feel human

Whether onboarding remotely or in person, it’s important to keep things personable. With the mountain of work emails and chat messages we already have to deal with, onboarding activities that include other colleagues or video instructions recorded by real peers can make onboardings more engaging and foster connection. Managers can also schedule one-on-one meetings with new hires to build relationships from the start.

Tip #2: Incorporate team bonding activities

Onboarding journeys loaded up on training, reading, and form filling feel flat. Make sure to incorporate fun onboarding activities, like going for coffee with a fellow team member or organizing a meet-and-greet lunchtime event, to spice up the experience and also foster employee engagement. Apply the buddy system so your newcomer has an office friend from the start.

Tip #3: Keep your onboardings consistent…

According to HCI, one of the greatest challenges of onboarding experiences is their inconsistency. Your employee onboarding program should reflect your culture, share foundational knowledge and offer a level of attention and support that is the same for every new employee.

Tip #4: …And personalize each onboarding experience

Onboarding a new employee is time consuming, and preparing one also takes time. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time to give onboarding a personal touch. Creating a structured onboarding template that can then be adapted saves time, but allows for personalization where it counts.

Tip #5: Make it light, not heavy

When the average onboarding has over 50 activities, it’s important to make the experience feel clean, organized and dynamic. Remember that new employees have a lot to take in when they’re first hired, so it’s important to deliver them an onboarding that won’t overwhelm them.

A solid onboarding strategy leads to increased employee retention

The bottom line is that modern employee-employer relationships require human consideration, appreciation, and understanding. Employees now look for job value in intangible factors — like great company culture — and not just tangible factors like salary.

By providing a great onboarding experience, you’re not only setting your employees up to succeeding in their role. You’re also setting them up to feel engaged and stay long-term with your company. That’s why investing in onboarding is a no-brainer: the ROI on productivity and turnover cost savings speaks for themselves.

Try Softstart by Gsoft for free, to onboard better, together!
There are ways to streamline the process while still being able to create personalized onboarding plans for every new employee. The right onboarding tool makes all the difference.