Recruiting’s Revolving Door: What Leaders Can Do to Retain New Hires
It has been a rough couple of years for companies trying to bring in fresh talent. Employers have been fighting an uphill battle to attract top workers, and recent data reveals that new hires are more likely than ever to job shop after spending only a few months in an organization. That’s a reversal of historic patterns showing new and long-tenured staff equally satisfied with their roles.
Losing freshman employees is a blow to HR teams that allocate a significant part of their budget to recruiting. However, experts agree that this instant attrition is avoidable. Companies that invest a comparable amount of time and effort to fully engage new staff before and after they’re hired nurture their loyalty and commitment.
Why New Hires Walk Away
Today’s top recruits have more leverage in a tight hiring market and are more inclined to assess other options than their predecessors. They scrutinize the job experience carefully, and many continue to scan for other opportunities before their first day on the job. According to CareerBuilder, approximately 67 percent of employers report almost a quarter of new hires not showing up after accepting a position.
Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder, describes business leaders’ dilemma in an article for Forbes:
“Nearly one-half of employers said it’s taking them longer to fill jobs today than in any other period in the post-industrial era – which not only costs money but has an impact on productivity and speed to market.”
Qualtrics’ chief workplace psychologist Benjamin Granger suggests two reasons behind new hires’ quick exits in an article for Yahoo Finance.
- As employers raised salaries to stay competitive in the job market, workers who accepted high-paying jobs found they didn’t love the roles after they tried them on for size.
- Organizations prioritize talent attraction and don’t put enough emphasis on effective onboarding practices.
Other data provides additional insight into the issue. Fortune reports that a Korn Ferry study showed that workers who left in the early months after hiring said they felt out of alignment with the company’s culture and found their responsibilities different than advertised.
Retaining and Energizing Recruits
New workers are reacting to insufficient transparency in the hiring process, a disconnect with company culture, and a poor runway for a successful path in the organization. Leaders can institute several strategies to preempt conditions that sour recruits’ attitudes about employers.
Attractive pay and benefits may lure top job candidates, but organizations need to put more on the table to keep them on board. They can’t just dangle compensation to fill their roster without explaining in detail what the roles require. Too often, newly hired personnel are placed in poorly defined positions and asked to do work they weren’t expecting.
People in most organizations understand that occasionally doing things beyond their job description helps their team succeed. But they’re likely to feel deceived and disappointed if they’re consistently put in situations that diverge from what they thought they were hired to do. A good salary won’t prevent someone from leaving if they are overwhelmed with undisclosed responsibilities.
An organization’s workplace culture impacts an employee’s experience more than any other aspect of their job. Accordingly, many job candidates scour company websites to learn about their culture before applying for a position there. They come to interviews prepared with questions about the culture and environment.
Organizations have two responsibilities pertaining to culture in the hiring process. The first is to ensure that the culture they advertise in their recruiting materials and online accurately reflects what’s happening in-house. If they assert that their company stands for specific core values, their staff’s conduct should back up that claim. Recruits quickly see through hype and will abandon a company that doesn’t walk the talk.
The second responsibility is to work with candidates to decide if they are a good fit with the company’s culture and not simply hire them for credentials. This process should include a question-and-answer session where both parties can explore whether the candidate will feel like they belong on the team. A highly qualified applicant may tick all the boxes for skill and experience but have a workstyle or personality that runs counter to the organization’s culture.
For example, someone who thrives on innovation will likely be uncomfortable in an organization that does everything by the book. Or if someone prefers to work alone on projects, they wouldn’t fit in a culture that encourages collaboration. Leaders should recruit people they believe will thrive in their company to reduce the frequency of short-tenure hires.
Companies that pour resources into talent acquisition often don’t do enough to make recruits feel at home in their organization. However, the first phase of employment is often a make-it-or-break-it period for new hires, and a skimpy onboarding process can make them regret their decision. The HR Team included some relevant data in a recent post:
- According to a Gallup study, 86 percent of new employees decide whether to stay with their new organization within the first few months.
- In a report published by Hayes Recruiting Consultants, 22 percent of people surveyed said that receiving a proper induction and onboarding influenced their decision to look for another job.
- A study by the Wynhurst Group found that new employees were 58 percent more likely to stay with an organization for at least three years after completing a structured onboarding program.
Their researchers observed:
“To gain a competitive edge in today’s unsettled employment landscape, companies must prioritize the onboarding process. It’s the foundation of better employee retention, improved job satisfaction, and enhanced productivity.”
Medium columnist Joe Walker notes that effective onboarding is more than completing paperwork and providing a cursory overview of operations. A well-executed process helps new hires feel welcome, understand their roles, and swiftly become productive team members.
He offers a checklist for onboarding new employees that includes many of the points mentioned above and the following meaningful steps:
- Welcome and Orientation
Prepare a warm welcome from the CEO or department head and conduct an in-person or virtual office tour and introduction to the team, along with an explanation of their roles.
- Mentorship and Support
Assign a mentor or buddy to guide the new employee during the first few weeks and beyond. And schedule regular check-ins to address questions, provide feedback, and monitor progress.
- Continuous Learning and Development
Convey the organization’s commitment to employee’s career growth by providing access to learning resources and opportunities for ongoing development.
The most important item on the checklist is providing a comprehensive look at the company’s culture and how it guides daily operations. Helping new hires absorb and feel a part of the workplace culture is central to successful onboarding.
David J. Friedman values the onboarding process so much that he made it part of his eight-step framework to develop and sustain a high-performance culture. He calls the onboarding step “Integration” and writes in his book, Culture by Design, that the process creates the lens through which recruits view their employer. First impressions profoundly impact how long new hires stay on board.
Friedman also stresses the importance of taking a long-term perspective. By not cutting the onboarding process short for the sake of “just getting to work,” the dividends will pay off for years to come in strong employee engagement.
An HR Team blog echoes that philosophy and recommends that companies create a continuous onboarding journey:
“In most jobs, people need proper guidance and reminding beyond week one, and it can often extend beyond the 90-day mark too. Instead of abruptly ending your onboarding after the first week or even the first three months, continue your efforts for at least a year. This demonstrates your company values and commitment to helping people succeed in their new roles.”
Proper onboarding is crucial for employees’ long-term vision of culture and career potential at their new company. It is the runway that allows new hires to gain momentum and thrive in the organization and motivates them to put down roots.