The Turnover Secret
Helping Managers Foster Relationships that Encourage New Hires to Stick Around
This is an edited transcript of the following webinar. If you prefer to watch a video, it's available here:
- [Tegan] Good morning and welcome to today's webinar, The Turnover Secret: Helping Managers Foster Relationships that Encourage New Hires to Stick Around. Thanks for joining us. My name is Tegan. I head up our Customer Success team here at Enboarder, and I'm very lucky to be joined today by Tim Way from The Career Conversation. Welcome, Tim.
- [Tim] Thank you, Tegan. Good morning and great to be here.
- [Tegan] Wonderful. Well, it would be great to hear a little bit about your role, Tim, and a bit more about how The Career Conversation is helping managers provide effective feedback.
- [Tim] I'm speaking to you from Singapore, which is home for me. I've lived here for about 10 years. Prior to that, I was in Australia and then before that, in the UK.
My background is in TA and HR roles, and most recently, I was HR Director at Hewlett-Packard here in Asia. Last year, I set up The Career Conversation with a number of other individuals. Our goal is to provide the support and help needed in the world of work and career. It's about helping people navigate their way through the disruption in that space, and help HR heads and others whose role it is to try and help people in their organization.
We do this by producing a range of digital short form career-related material, including text, audio and videos, and then being very very creative about how we connect that material to the audience – one of which is partnering with Enboarder to reach and connect with the right people at the right time.
Emotional momentum and productivity
Common onboarding and TA issues
- [Tegan] Today's organizations are really putting a lot of emphasis on finding and sourcing the right talent, but once someone has joined the organization, the challenge shifts to how we can actually retain them. Some of the issues that we're solving for with onboarding is around high turnover, disengaged employees, managers that may not be investing in the process.
The lack of consistency around onboarding is a huge issue, with different hires having different experiences during onboarding. Another big problem is the traditional task-focused onboarding process, where it's really about pushing out all of the onboarding material at the very beginning. As a result managers and new hires get overloaded with content.
And another problem is the lack of visibility that managers have into the onboarding process.
Setting trends in engagement levels
- [Tegan] This is a really nice visual representation of the employee journey, and if we start off thinking about the engagement levels throughout the recruitment part of their lifecycle, they're really high at the time of offer. This makes sense, because a lot of resources and time goes into that talent attraction and recruitment process, so when the employees receive their offers, they're on a real high.
And then we see, typically, that engagement drops. They don't hear anything from the organization, and potentially don't hear from the manager. And then we see that continued in their first days, weeks, months. The engagement levels just really continue to drop off, as the organization isn't ready and they don't have a refined process in place.
- [Tegan] The picture is a bit different when we see organizations investing in onboarding and engagement. New hires are still going to be really excited about the prospect of joining the organization, but one of the key things is to re-affirm the decision to join you. It's important once they've joined the organization to have the process in place to make sure it's a great experience.
So when I talked with Tim earlier, I think we continually kept coming back to the point that whilst we can put a lot of these great processes in place, we need to really marry that with the soft skills that are required of managers. So Tim, what are your thoughts on how managers and employers can deliver on the engagement levels that are required?
"Yes, we should be engaging with new hires early on, through onboarding and induction, but let's look at the experience they go through during onboarding"
The importance of experience over processes
- [Tim] I'd just like to loop back to a point you made earlier to answer this. It all starts with thinking about how the way we work, and how that's changing. Whether it's Design Thinking, Agile, flat structures, or the demographic shifts in the workforce. Staff may no longer be working in offices. In many cases, they are more distributed, and working to different arrangements.
All these changes need to be taken into account when we are engaging with them. And it's important to shift the focus to the experience associated with engaging the workforce. So yes, we should be engaging with new hires early on, through onboarding and induction, but let's look at the experience they go through during onboarding.
How do we take someone through the onboarding or induction experience, without overwhelming them with too many touchpoints? More important, when thinking about the new hire experience, let's consider how they are feeling, and how we can make them feel like they are ready to be productive, from an emotional, tactical and practical perspective, as quickly as possible.
Who really owns onboarding and engagement?
- [Tim] Another important point I want to make is about accountability. Many businesses would like HR to manage it all, and while HR definitely has an important role to play in improving employee engagement, let's recognize that leaders at all levels in the business also have a big influence on engagement levels.
For these stakeholders, people working in the midst of the business, technology can be a great enabler. So let's think about how we can use technology, along with messages, awareness and some of those softer aspects to really make a difference in engagement.
Splitting the workload
- [Tegan] I think ownership or accountability is a common point of discussion that I have with my customers. There's a lot of debate around where does the ownership of onboarding sit.
There has definitely been a shift of the responsibility to managers. But we also know we can't completely rely on managers to facilitate everything that's required to onboard and get someone to be as productive as possible. This is a large task, so how do we split this work with all the stakeholders that should be, or need to be involved?
If you joined us at our last webinar, we spoke with Linda from Canva's Happiness Team, and they rolled out a mentorship program that functions not just as a leadership track for high performers, but also ensures that new employees are getting that support, not just from their manager, but also from their peers.
Or if we think about Scentre Group, who run a really great onboarding and induction program, they have the role of an induction champ within their business, and that's allowing them to, again, split some of the ownership, accountability, on other stakeholders, and they're able to take on some of the coordination and administration tasks of onboarding.
A good example of such splitting of accountability can also be found in the buddy system that that a lot of our customers do as well. We've definitely seen some great connections being formed with the buddies. Being able to facilitate these buddy programs through Enboarder, so everyone is introduced prior to day one, is making these programs really powerful.
Speaking to the communications piece, I know that The Career Conversation definitely invests a lot of time in to conversations. What are your thoughts around the importance of having impactful conversations?
The right conversations, at the right time
- [Tim] I'd like to contextualise the topic of impactful conversations, so how do you leverage conversations to solve the real issues you may have found in your onboarding experience?
I think most people have some data points that point to certain issues, whether it relates to attrition or engagement service or mobility levels. For a lot of HR people, there's going to be a lot of anecdotal information that would indicate if things are going wrong.
So what are you actually cleaning up? Are you spending a lot of time or resources on something that you wish you didn't have to? Or are you having to do a lot of stuff at the last minute, or stepping in to fix things?
Using dialogue to probe for issues
So perhaps the first point when we are thinking about conversations, is to use them to diagnose issues. When someone signs up to join your organization, you want to be able to, at some point, have that dialogue with them that says, okay, you're six weeks in, you signed up for a job, you did some interviews, we told you what it would be like, now how are we measuring up? How are you feeling about all these different aspects?
And let's think about how to enable these conversations, not just for a HR person, but also for others in the business to be able to have these conversations. Because you are right, we can't just put it all on the hiring manager or the line manager. These managers are typically incredibly busy and the workload associated with onboarding can compromise their ability to perform their day-to-day duties, whether it is to do with performance, customers, growth, SLAs, etc.
This really needs to be looked at as well as a team sport. How can technology can really help bring that team together and alert the the relevant members of the team about a data point, and trigger a dialogue? I think there's a real role that technology can take, not just in distributing the effort and the workload , but also keep people on track and make sure that those really important conversations don't fall between the cracks.
- [Tegan] Absolutely. And so thinking about then some of the strategies that organizations can put in place, how can we facilitate that?
"There's a real role that technology can take, not just in distributing the effort and the workload , but also keep people on track and make sure that those really important conversations don't fall between the cracks"
Nudges that also educate
- [Tim] I think the best way to bring that to life to enhance your approach. So rather than just sending a nudge and a message about something that needs to be done, you're educating as well.
It's easy to just send people to some portal, or online course, but that self-prescribed approach rarely works. Today, we're really competing for eyeballs and attention. The answer, of course, is to put the right material in front of somebody when they need it most.
I don't think we'll ever completely solve that, but I think with Enboarder technology and some of our content, we're getting closer to doing that.
For example, enhancing task reminders with education. When it's time for a manager to have a conversation with the new hire about performance, the message to the manager isn't just a reminder of something to do. It might instead say, hey, it's time to have the conversation with X, and here's here's a short video to look at, or here are three important questions you need to be asking.
It's about not just nudging them, but also helping them understand why it's important, and even coaching them a little with a bit of the script. With the right tools, you may be able to gauge an individual's feeling, and turn that into an actionable. So for example, a new hire might have done a Pulse survey, and talked about what's working, what's not, where they could do with a bit more help. That goes to the team to then be able to take action. What this then enables is intervention at the right time.
"By ensuring the right conversation at the right time, the right material just when people need it, or intervening at the exact right time, we make these connection points as valuable and as effective as possible"
Making touch points count
The thing here is to not make it too exhaustive. If anything, we're wanting to reduce the time needed to do these things. By ensuring the right conversation at the right time, the right material just when people need it, or intervening at the exact right time, we make these connection points as valuable and as effective as possible.
- [Tegan] Absolutely, and I think real-time feedback is just huge. I seen some stories where new hires were able to provide some feedback, whether it be in person or through a Pulse check-in through Enboarder, and the managers received that response straightaway and in real time, they're able to have that conversation, and be able to turn that conversation around.
To your point, I think it's really important that we're providing the managers with the tools and the resources they need to have an effective conversation. So it's not just about checking a box. It's really about making sure that they're really feeling, and how we can actually make a new path for them.
- [Tim] Yes. If we think about our own experience, joining a company is a pretty emotional experience.
It's pretty full on, there's a huge amount of discovery. feelings of impostor syndrome, and geez, am I gonna be able to do what I've signed up for and a whole range of things in there, and meeting new individuals. And a lot of it also involves reflecting if they've made a right decision.
Of course, the whole practical side of things matters – the ability for a new hire to leverage their effort and use the competencies that you've hired them for, of course helps them ramp to higher levels of productivity faster, but it's important to recognize that it's an emotional experience as well as a tactical one.
Walking before running
- [Tegan] And it's also important to note that everyone has a different start line. It's not so much about keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to engagement or onboarding.
- [Tim] I was at a company which was looking into this very process, and we talked about how it could be a real point of competitive point of difference, from an employer branding point of view, if we did it really, really well. Then someone in the room pulled us up by making a good point: before we run, let's walk. If we're struggling with some of the basic aspects of onboarding engagement, let's fix those first.
So the point is to not make it too exhaustive. When scoping out an onboarding project, look at it in the context of the organization's people, readiness, your other workload and effort.
I think the benefits of some of the tools and tech we now have in the HR space is you can structure them quite carefully and you can basically construct your own start line. You know what you'd like to begin with, and start on a journey to do just that.
Remember, you don't have to win awards for your onboarding program on day one. It's a great goal and aspiration to have, but you can start by getting some of the key things right, and then build on that.
Coaching to help managers engage
- [Tegan] Definitely. Another thing, going back to your previous point about educating people, what we are really seeing a lot from our customers is they are using our tool to construct specific learning tracks for managers and really coaching them on that experience. These organizations recognise that everyone has different levels of experience with being a people leader, and this is not a skill that comes naturally to some people.
We see people being promoted because they're a great performer, but the ability to deal with the people issue exists on a whole different gamut. So I've seen customers using their workflows administer coaching to the managers on how they can have those appropriate conversations, while giving them a preview of what those conversations could look like, and tips on how they can really tackle the conversations.
"Remember, you don't have to win awards for your onboarding program on day one."
Split up onboarding tasks into chewable chunks
And in terms of walking before running, I think it's related too to the lesson of delivering just the key messages at the right time. I think we constantly see these onboarding toolkits or then we'll an entire PDF that gets sent over as soon as someone has been confirmed to start in the organization.
The idea is well-meaning, and it's about providing them with all the tools and resources they need to get up and ready for day one. But it's a better idea to split up those key tasks and those key initiatives that they need to completed, and actually just be performing them at the right time as opposed to just trying to get them to do everything at once.
Another important point is to share the success. Not all managers are equal. Some do more to lead the way than others, and it's important to highlight their efforts, whether it's about telling a great success story, highlighting an improvement or a development for a manager that's had a really great outcome. Being able to celebrate those successes internally really helps to educate the rest of the business as well.
The role of technology and data
- [Tegan] So then, thinking about data and technology, I know we've touched on a bit of this before, but Tim, how do you think data and technology can really contribute to this?
- [Tim] I think people today are committed to new tech, and leveraging it to help them manage what they need to do. This is especially true in the enterprise environment. There are some great tools that are there, but they've gotta fit into your architecture, your environment, and your framework, and work with other tech you are investing in, or other platforms you have.
So while the scope of what's possible is getting bigger, but what you can actually do in the organization might be a little bit more restricted. So I think there's always that consideration.
In terms of that inter-operability piece, I think Enboarder's platform is fantastic because we've found there's a lot of security considerations, API enablement, and a whole host of things that make it easy to plug in to existing systems.
But to bring the point back to the issue balance, I think it's important to have a balance of technology and touch. How do you use technology from an enablement point of view, and then allow it to touch at the right points and convey and carry the right messages?
Of course, from a a messaging or content viewpoint, there's another real burden in the maintenance of the library. Think of the body of assets required to onboard new hires. As you mentioned, there are forms, documents, processes, etc. There's a huge range of collateral there, and it's a hell of a process to not just create the assets, and also managing and maintaining their relevance.
This problem isn't going to disappear, but I think by using tools that have got a lot of forms and experience and built in, and perhaps in partnership with someone like ourselves where there's ready access to a library of assets that you can pick and choose from, you can really reduce the amount of time you have to dedicate to maintaining that collateral. And you can shift your focus on thinking more about the impact that you want your material to have.
- [Tegan] We're coming up to question time. Tim, this might be a good one for you. How do you deal with different cultural differences when it comes to this onboarding and approaching managers?
- [Tim] I'd throw into that, not just cultural, but generational differences as well. For different people have different ideas of the type of engagement they want. And I think it's important to take that into consideration. This is certainly going to be an issue if you are operating a team across countries. When you are engaging with individuals in Japan versus say Australia, there would clearly be some differences potentially in the way you word some of the messages, or even in the timing and nature of conversations.
I think underlying all those differences, though, is the importance of establishing a human connection. Regardless of cultural or generational difference, the output that you want is the same. You want that individual to be immersed, welcome, feel safe, have the assets that they need, aware, and you want them to be as productive as quickly as you can. So the goal doesn't change, but I think if you're working across borders, there are a few considerations that are there, but overall, you're still going to be focused on the principle of connection and delivering the right content at the right time.
- [Tegan] Yeah, absolutely. We also have a question about what are some practices to avoid? We've covered a lot of the good to-dos, so they want to know what to avoid.
I think when I think about manager engagement, it's definitely about not inundating the managers with everything at the wrong time.
When they're bringing someone new into the team, there's obviously a number of things that need to happen, but I think it's really important to think about what are the key things that need to occur, and when.
I think the timing is really, really key. And I think a lot of technology doesn't really always enable that, but making sure we've got process in place that you can really enable and empower managers at the right time as opposed to just getting the process under way.
And I think real-time feedback is huge as well. If you're not reviewing and analyzing what your employees are actually saying and how they're feeling, then again it's just becoming a tick the box exercise and you're not actually being able to take on the feedback and actually act on it.
We've also got a question about pre-employment packs. Tim, you referred to them as well. What are your thoughts around employee packs, or pre-employment packs?
- [Tegan] One thing I would say is that I think it's good to have the employment packs. I think it's fine to have a toolkit or resource available so that managers and employees can reference something at any time.
However, I think we know that with engagement, how many managers and employees are going to actively locate those packs and reference them at the right time, and that's where coupling technology to these pieces of material, and facilitating some of those key tasks or initiatives would come in handy. So while I think portals and packs are valid ways of working, it's important to couple them with engagement.
- [Tim] Yes, I'd agree with that. If someone's got a pack, then great. Someone's done some work at some point and thought about it and realized the connection is really, really important, et cetera.
Now the next question is, given what we talked about previously, can this pack be replaced with something and evolve into something that's a bit more digital, a bit more agile and easier to produce, distribute? So I think it's important to consider how to evolve the pack. The value of the pack hasn't changed, but it's about recognizing what the core value is, which is connecting with individuals, engaging, etc.
So it's about how we can make it more interactive, and bringing it to life.
Actually, pivoting back to that question about things to avoid, I'd like to raise one, which is trying to do everything too fast.
I've been at companies where onboarding induction was four days and that was it. It was crammed in, so at 9 o'clock, you're meeting such, and at 10:30, you're meeting da-da-da, and 11 o'clock, you're meeting such and such, and 12 o'clock, you're having lunch with such and such. That's the social part done, and then the next day and that's it. By Thursday, you're done.
I think it's important to not rush it, and to be comfortable with extending this onboarding period. On both sides, so things are happening before you join for day one, and then having it go on for a bit longer after. It needs to be a three- or four-month process, a dance of continued engagement and connection, getting to a point where you're fully immersed into the organization.
And a second point I'd add has to do with how we communicate with managers or others who are associated with the process. We typically tell them how they need to do something.
I think it's helpful to move a little bit more from the how to the why. For example, providing the managers with a little video about the psychology of joining a new company, and how that person is gonna be feeling. Or prompt them to think about how they themselves felt when they joined a new company.
Understanding why you need to do something gives it a much more sustaining impact in relation to the engagement you'll have and the self-directed action you're likely to take.
- [Tegan] Couldn't agree more. Well thank you, Tim. I really appreciate your time today. We thank you for sharing, and thank you for everyone for joining today's webinar.
- [Tim] My pleasure. Thank you, everybody, for listening.