In today’s challenging talent environment, retaining employees is a must. That’s why so many organizations consider onboarding new hires a top priority. When people feel genuinely welcomed at work from day one, retention increases dramatically.
If you could suggest one way to achieve better long-term results when onboarding new hires, what would you recommend? Recently, we asked business leaders to share their answers to this question. Their collective tips read like a playbook of best practices:
- Assign an Onboarding Buddy
- Challenge New Team Members to Take Initiative
- Make Newcomers Feel at Home
- Assess Each New Hire’s Personality and Work Style
- Help New Employees Feel Connected With Others
- Provide Extensive Product Training
- Emphasize Company Mission and Values
To learn more about these ideas, read the responses below…
7 Ways to Drive Retention When Onboarding New Hires
1. Assign an Onboarding Buddy
Effective onboarding helps make new members of your workforce feel like they’re an integral part of the organization. It drives employee engagement and reduces time to proficiency. But it can be a tedious process to manage.
Assigning an “onboarding buddy” to every new team member is one way to ensure success. When facing an unfamiliar environment, many people hesitate to ask questions or communicate about their needs. Access to a dedicated resource can help people feel at ease, knowing someone is available to offer advice and answer questions when they arise.
This kind of support leads to multiple benefits — it provides helpful cultural context, improves productivity and elevates work satisfaction.
When our organization started a buddy system, we conducted surveys to evaluate the program’s impact. Results were impressive. After the first week on the job, people with buddies were 32% happier with their onboarding experience than those without buddies. And when we followed-up 90 days later, 42% of employees with buddies were more efficient in their roles than others.
Conclusion: These early relationships help people feel safer stepping into their roles. This encourages engagement and significantly improves talent retention at our company.
2. Challenge New Team Members to Take Initiative
Although it’s essential to introduce new employees to key tasks, routines and procedures during the onboarding process, it’s also important to avoid too much hand-holding. You need to determine if people can be resourceful and work independently, rather than encouraging them to become overly dependent on guidance from others.
Of course, you can always be there to help as a manager. But the goal is to help people feel self-empowered and help them gain confidence and competence as quickly as possible.
3. Make Newcomers Feel at Home
Many employers make the mistake of expecting new hires to adopt company culture by giving them all the instructions they need to fit right in. But bringing out the best in someone starts with recognizing their strengths and helping them see how those strengths can serve organizational goals.
Give employees time to familiarize themselves with your organization’s goals. And give them space to use trial and error when developing their own work strategies and tactics. This opens the door for people to bring new, authentic ideas to the table. It also shows you believe in their abilities, you’ve hired them based on their potential, and you’re willing to let them grow.
4. Assess Each New Hire’s Personality and Work Style
When onboarding new hires, one critical step is to assess their personality and work style. Every employee approaches tasks and communication differently, so it’s helpful to learn the best methods to guide each individual and provide feedback.
If you focus on this during the onboarding process, then you give every new hire the best opportunity to develop a lasting connection with you, your team and your organization.
5. Help New People Feel Connected With Others
A lack of connection is the strongest predictor of attrition among new hires. Research shows that employees who lose 2-3 peers within the first few months on the job are at least 2 times more likely to resign than others. Other data shows that resignations are significantly higher among new employees who are regularly late to work or absent, compared with those who are punctual.
Team support, connection and stability are the biggest retention drivers for new hires. This is why frequent interaction with managers, peers and skip-level managers is crucial.
Initially, managers should set the tone by scheduling frequent one-on-one meetings. Then gradually reduce the pace over time. Also, right from the start, encourage team members to welcome new employees and be available to support them on an ongoing basis.
6. Provide Extensive Product Training
A company’s products and services are its center of gravity. So, the sooner new hires are acquainted with these offerings, the sooner they can be successful in their roles. This is where extensive product training helps.
Knowledgeable team members are obviously beneficial for employers. But individuals benefit, as well. Knowing every nook and cranny of an organization’s products gives newcomers more clarity, confidence and excitement about what they’re doing each day. It also builds a stronger connection between new hires and your company, your customers and your mission.
7. Emphasize Company Mission and Values
As someone who has been a new hire and has also hired staff members, I don’t think employers spend enough time focusing on mission and values. Leaders might mention the overall mission, but too often they give little attention to how a new hire’s role helps the organization fulfill its mission.
At our company, we spend time familiarizing people with our values and how these values set a foundation that makes it possible for our mission to thrive. Each person knows their job description, as well as how their role moves the company forward. This helps create a deeper connection and improves engagement.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These employee onboarding ideas were submitted via Terkel, a knowledge platform that shares community-driven content based on expert insights. To see questions and get published, sign up at terkel.io.