According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey1 of 2,250 U.S. hiring managers and HR professionals survey, companies lost an average of $14,900 on every “bad hire” in the last year, and it's a common mistake — nearly three in four employers (74 percent) say they've hired the wrong person for a position and that half of these bad hires have quit within the first six months of employment.
When asked how a bad hire affected their business in the last year, employers cited less productivity (37 percent), lost time to recruit and train another worker (32 percent) and compromised quality of work (31 percent).
The survey also illustrated that while the cost of hiring the wrong person can be high, the cost of letting a good worker go is even higher. CareerBuilder’s survey respondents cited the average cost of losing a good hire as $29,600. As a workforce and HR consultant who has worked on retention strategies with dozens of organizations, I’d like to share five recommendations for keeping your best people.
Acclimate Them to Your Culture Early
The moment an offer letter is extended, the new hire experience starts. However, some organizations fail to communicate with candidates between offer acceptance and start date, and this is a retention mistake. Based on 15 years of working with employees, and especially younger ones, I’ve learned that the most important thing organizations must do to retain new hires is to get them involved in the culture immediately.
If an employee starts a new job and feels lost, they may feel like they didn’t make the right decision, and keep interviewing. If a better opportunity arises, a new hire that doesn’t get a positive first impression right away may not wait around. For this reason, I advise organizations to launch a comprehensive onboarding initiative that starts the minute the offer is extended and mixes face-to-face and virtual components to connect new employees to the company they’ve joined.
Build Rapport with New Hires
Onboarding today is often “one-size-fits-all,” and some might argue that this is better than no onboarding at all. However, new hires in 2018 usually take jobs to make a unique contribution to the organization, and shuffling them through a cold, anonymous orientation process often does not accomplish this.
Instead, organizations may want to strive to get to know new hires as three-dimensional individuals. What are they hoping to do with their lives? What do they do outside of work? If they moved for the job, what do they want to learn about the town or city? Ideally, the manager can take the lead in scheduling meetings to gather this information prior to the start date, and at least one social invitation will be extended with the manager and the new hire’s teammates. A “personal interest” survey that’s part of the onboarding experience may also aid in rapport-building.
Communicate Frequently and on Diverse Mediums
If you don’t engage with new hires, it’s difficult to know what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling – and whether they already have one foot out the door. It’s a good idea to ask new employees how they’d prefer to hear from you (text, instant messaging, email, etc.) and then communicate with them in the manner that makes them most comfortable and likely to respond with feedback.
Frequency and consistency is important, but fortunately, many tech-based onboarding systems facilitate scheduled communications and use reminder prompts. Messages that are personalized, concise, and well-timed are more likely to be successful so you don’t overwhelm new hires with too much information too soon. And, don’t forget the in-person conversations, as you are more likely to get the whole story when you sit down with someone over coffee.
Offer Plum Assignments and Development Opportunities
Regardless of their level, many people joining a new organization want to jump into new responsibilities and challenges right away. Although it’s natural to ease new hires in so that the organization isn’t at risk and the new employee isn’t unduly pressured, this approach may alienate them. Also, when new hires are busy, they are less likely to look for other jobs or seriously consider existing options.
In addition to providing meaty projects that utilize their expertise and integrate them into the organization’s workflow and processes, you may wish to start professional development in the form of onsite coursework, webinars, and mentorship opportunities on or even prior to the first day. The latter activity can demonstrate your investment in their growth and cultivate good will.
These actions do require focus and attention, especially if you haven’t done much with onboarding before, But a 2018 study from the Human Capital Institute, New Hire Momentum: Driving the Onboarding Experience2 illustrates their importance, concluding that “onboarding is a critical weakness for a majority of organizations that stalls new hire momentum and threatens to disengage enthusiastic employees during their crucial first weeks on the job.” On the other hand, an organization with strong onboarding is more likely to retain top talent.
CareerBuilder (2017), PRNewswire.com, Three in Four Employers Affected By a Bad Hire, According to Recent Career Builder Survey, accessed on the Internet at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nearly-three-in-four-employers-affected-by-a-bad-hire-according-to-a-recent-careerbuilder-survey-300567056.html (June 17, 2018).
Human Capital Institute (2018), Kronos.com, New Hire Experience: Driving the Onboarding Experience Research Report, accessed on the Internet at https://www.kronos.com/resources/new-hire-momentum-driving-onboarding-experience-research-report (June 17, 2018).