The average company spends about $4,000 on every new hire, according to Glassdoor. The hiring process itself takes an average of 24 days. Even worse than the loss of productivity during that time is the possibility that a new hire might not stick around.
And that possibility is very real. About 28% of new hires quit before their first 90 days are up. In fact, turnover among new hires has risen every year since 2010, which is why that first month is so critical. You have to make a good impression to retain your newest team members.
Here are three surefire ways to improve a new hire’s first 30 days:
1. Clearly portray the daily grind.
One of the most common causes of employee turnover is a misalignment between expectations and reality. To set new hires up for success, make sure you clearly communicate your company’s mission. Explain the scope of their position in specific terms.
This expectation setting is key to your new hire’s first 30 days, but it should start before he or she has even accepted the job. “Creating standardized job descriptions will have a positive effect on more than just your hiring process,” notes Linda Ginac, CEO of talent management software company TalentGuard. “Formalized job descriptions provide transparency and visibility into the expectations of the job.”
It’s always a good idea to reiterate those requirements during the interview — and communicate unspoken expectations left out of the posting. The interview is your chance to clarify things like scheduling flexibility, dress code, and office decorum. Repeat that information during onboarding to ensure it sticks. Give new employees opportunities to ask clarifying questions about the role as needed rather than wait.
2. Create structured employee orientation and training.
Starting a new job can be lonely and stressful. A new employee is surrounded by unfamiliar faces. There’s new software to learn, paperwork to sign, and a host of new skills to master. It’s your job to put an employee’s mind at ease by providing a seamless experience.
The simplest way to ease new-job jitters is to create a formal onboarding process. Make sure administrative tasks, such as assigning a desk and computer, are handled before the employee arrives. Create an onboarding checklist for the employee’s first week. This list can include establishing short- and long-term goals, giving the employee a tour, and facilitating introductions.
New employee training programs should be just as structured as your onboarding process. You can start by identifying key employee objectives that can be evaluated and measured consistently. Then, provide the information and training (whether in person, via an e-learning platform, or both) that will enable the newbie to meet them.
Set clear benchmarks for new team members, starting at the 15-day mark and extending through their first 90 days. These benchmarks can be extended to each phase of the employee life cycle once new hires are out of the woods.
3. Give and solicit regular feedback.
Sixty-five percent of employees say they’d like more feedback than they’re currently getting. As you structure an employee’s training schedule, be sure to build feedback into each phase. It’s not a good idea to wait until an employee’s first quarterly review to address every issue that’s cropped up. A new hire may think she’s doing fine; it can be demoralizing to then receive a barrage of negative comments during a performance review.
Instead, offer more frequent feedback, which will ensure problems are nipped in the bud. They’ll also set the tone for an open and transparent workplace. When employees receive regular feedback, it makes them feel comfortable being more candid about their challenges.
And remember: The feedback loop is a two-way street. “Consistent, authentic communication establishes positive feedback loops, which are essential to the success of any reciprocal relationship,” explains Cord Himelstein, VP of marketing for HALO Recognition. “Give people feedback about their actions in a timely manner without fear of reprisal, and it gives them a healthy opportunity to work toward better behaviors.”
Finally, try to deliver criticism in private, and be as specific as possible. It’s not very helpful to say, “Your behavior on conference calls is problematic.” It’s better to illuminate how an employee’s actions contribute to an issue by saying something like, “When you interrupt John on conference calls, it makes him look less credible to the client.”
Employee fit is important, but the first few weeks on the job can make or break a new hire. Once you find the right person, it’s up to you to ensure smooth sailing for the first 30 days (and beyond). Employee retention starts before a new hire even walks through the door. Your onboarding and training processes, however, should keep new hires engaged until your company starts to feel like home.