Why Experience-Driven Onboarding is the Key to Employee Retention

Posted in Talent & Onboarding

When it seems like your new hires keep falling through a hole in your talent bucket, there’s only one thing for you to do – fix your crappy onboarding.

Problems with retention?

Here’s a thought: no one enjoys applying for jobs, being scrutinised throughout multiple interview rounds, or asking their old boss for a stellar performance review when tipped off that a reference checker will call. No one enjoys the arduous recruitment process when it could eventuate in soul-crushing rejection.

When candidates apply for a role with your organisation, they want it to work out even more than you do. So, if your workforce data is indicating an issue with new hire turnover – your mediocre onboarding has likely sprung a talent leak.

The answer, of course, is something we call experience-driven onboarding. Here’s how it helps retain your best talent.

Where’s it all gone wrong for onboarding?

Well, it starts with the wrong attitude, Buster.

Most organisations approach onboarding from a compliance checklist perspective. Tick, sign, flick, repeat.

Whereas experience-driven onboarding is treated as a strategic business initiative that accelerates new hire productivity and engagement. It achieves this by personalising the employee’s experience, and emphasising communication of and connection to the organisation’s mission and values.

Simply, experience-driven onboarding sparks a new employee’s deeper emotional connection to their role, their team, and their employer. An emotional connection built on trust, transparency, and positive interactions that continue throughout the entire employee journey.

Wake up and smell the data

We’re in the midst of a global talent war, yet surprisingly, first-year turnover is high, accounting for 34% of all turnover in 2016, according to Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report. We’re surprised because presumably, organisations are willingly letting one third of their best new talent walk out the door and not taking steps to fix a clear problem.

And when onboarding is done well?

In the Aberdeen Group’s onboarding report, they highlighted the impact good onboarding has on businesses, with their ‘best-in-class’ organisations (those invested in strategic onboarding and tech), recording employee retention at 93% v. the ‘worst-in-class’ (those with poor or no onboarding), who recorded 30% employee retention.

Turnover is what happens when new hires realise they’ve been fed a lie

When the illusion doesn’t match the reality. Whoops.

Ponder a moment, if you will – would you go through the pain and social awkwardness of joining a new company you knew didn’t align with your values or provide the working environment and development opportunities you so desire?

Twenty-seven per cent of U.S. workers strongly agree that they believe in their organization’s values (that’s not much).

Could be coincidence, but interesting to note Gallup also found only 35% of employees are engaged. Merely speculation; we’re not data scientists…

If you really want to win the war for talent and retain your top hires for years, you must communicate an authentic and consistent message about who you are, how you work, and what you stand for.

Because when the confetti settles and the welcome champagne loses its fizz, your employees are going to feel like they’ve been lied to if what you promised to get them in the door doesn’t match the reality of their first year-in-the-job experience. More than just the size of their cubicle or the YOLO six-floor fun slide carrying them down to the fruit basket waiting in the food hall, new hires need to trust early on that you’re going to deliver what was promised.

Engagement led onboarding is how you do that.

Walk through your onboarding and check:

  • Does your EVP and all your desperate brand promises during recruitment live up to reality?
  • Are you providing a brand experience that is valuable, and valued?
  • Are you welcoming new hires with a warm, inviting hug, or is their first impression one of cold indifference?
  • Is your recruitment-to-first day journey frictionless, efficient, and dare we ask, enjoyable?
  • Have you embraced technology to automate menial tasks (ensuring they’re done promptly and effectively), so your managers and employees are free to develop 1:1 relationships?

Pre- and onboarding is here to save the day

Like an armoured knight riding in on his white beast, an epic onboarding program can pull your tattered reputation from the jaws of ruin and carry you back to your throne.

Epic onboarding looks like:

  • Frequent communication, so new hires don’t feel abandoned, or unvalued, or ignored.
  • Personalised experiences, so new hires feel comfortable, valued, and adored.
  • Social integration, so new hires feel connected, knowledgeable, and welcomed aboard.
  • Experience-led compliance, so new hires remain engaged and not bored.
  • Manager-led conversations, so new hire engagement and development can soar.

The best onboarding programs go the distance, lasting at least a full year.

Experience-driven onboarding wins long-term, too

Of course, with experience-driven onboarding you can expect to see top talent committing to you for years. Because you started engaging them from the beginning.

This early onboarding experience (continued throughout the entire employee journey), is the first step for you in establishing brand loyalty.

Just think about it in the consumer space; you’re either Apple or Android, Nike or Adidas, McDonalds or Burger King. A consistently enjoyable experience with one brand ensures you’re likely to never buy from anyone else. And just one poor experience ensures you’ll likely never buy there again!

Onboarding really is that important to your employer brand and new hire retention.

So, please stop treating it like a checklist process – there’s too much for you to lose.

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