Why your onboarding process could be costing you talent
Picture it: you’ve advertised for a role, received applications and shortlisted candidates. All that hard work you’ve been putting in on your EVP seems to have paid off.
Then it gets to interview. Disappointingly, at the final round of interviews one of the most promising candidates doesn’t show up. But not to worry – of the three remaining, one seems a good fit, so you decide to offer them the role.
But when you send an offer email the candidate doesn't reply, and they don’t respond to your follow-up calls either. But not to worry – you can move on to your second choice. Thankfully they accept, sign the contract and agree on a start date.
You're a bit worried that you don’t hear from your new employee until their first day, but they turn up on time ready for work. You’re pretty busy with client meetings, so you only have time for a quick hello before dashing off. But you make sure their work station is set up and ask the person opposite to be their mentor. All seems well.
Until, four weeks in, you get an email saying that your new recruit hasn’t turned up for work. Not only that, but they’ve handed in their notice. They won’t be completing their probation period.
If any part of this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is. A 2021 Indeed survey revealed that 28% of workers had ghosted an employer at some stage in the hiring process – simply not replying to emails or calls about the role.
Interestingly, exactly the same percentage of candidates leave a role within the first 90 days.
That’s 28% of employees not making it past probation – not because they weren’t suited to the role, but because something about the interviewing, recruiting and onboarding process didn’t encourage them to stick around.
I don’t have to tell you why this is bad for business. So instead let’s work out what your onboarding process has to do with hiring great talent – and how you can make it better.
…Keep the hiring process short – and decisive
Do you really need five rounds of interviews to know you’ve found the person for the job? Multiple rounds of interviews is cited as one of the biggest red flags for candidates applying for a new role.
Look at your recruitment process and ask: can you simplify it?
Another pet hate of candidates is slow decision making. So when you’ve made your decision, let the candidate know as soon as possible. Then you can move straight on to onboarding.
…‘Pre-board’ your new hires
Remember: onboarding starts as soon as your new hire signs the contract. So don’t go silent between sealing the deal and their first day. Your candidate might have more than one offer on the table. Do you want to give them a reason to change their mind?
Use your ATS to automate a series of pre-boarding emails to land at different points in the lead-up to starting day.
…Do an entry interview
Sure, automated onboarding is great at helping you streamline and standardise your onboarding process. But you’ll also need the human touch.
Either on their first day or a few days before, catch up with your new hire for an entry interview. This is your chance to ask them what they like, what helps them thrive and to share a few practical points about the office (including how to use that tricky coffee machine).
It's also their chance to share their hopes and aspirations for the role, setting you both off on the right foot.
…Give them something challenging
How much work should you be giving new hires in their first few weeks? Tip: don’t go too easy. Research shows that unchallenging work puts employees at a greater risk of quitting. Keeping your employees happy is all about engagement, so try to give new candidates work that means something in the wider context of the business.
…Assign a buddy
Yeah, we all know it’s good practice to appoint an office buddy for new hires. But here’s the mistake most employers make: they only connect the employee with their buddy on their first day.
Instead, encourage their buddy to drop them an email before they start, or better still a Zoom call. That way they’ll immediately see a friendly face.
…Make sure they’ve stepped into the office
Even if you’re still conducting interviews on Zoom (and to be honest, that’s a whole other blog), you shouldn’t be onboarding anyone who hasn’t visited your office – even if they’ll be working from home.
Meeting the team, seeing where everyone sits, feeling the atmosphere in the office – it’s more important than you think for new employees.
…Say hi – and help them remember your name
Even if you’re a busy CEO, you can take the time to introduce yourself to a new employee. Repeating names in meetings and clarifying who you mean in emails also helps them to feel confident with their new team.
And don’t bother if all you can manage is a passing hello. The more visible you can be in the early days, the more valued your new employee will feel.
Research says that your onboarding process makes a big difference in increasing retention. In fact, studies by Aberdeen Group in 2018 showed that companies that engage new hires into their culture and create an overall positive experience from day one improved retention by 50%.
In other words, this stuff might seem simple, but it matters.