What Works: Employee Onboarding Starts Before You Hire

Most companies and many other organizations sweat the details of how you do onboarding – also known as new employee orientation. With the bounce rate (who gets fired or leaves, who stays) at around 40% at 18 months for execs hired from the outside it makes sense to pay attention to getting people traction early and fast.

Great idea, but there’s one small flaw; effective onboarding for a new hire starts even before that new hire walks through the door.

Here’s why.

Research, sadly, has show that new hires retain only around 30% of the information that gets shoveled to them in their early days. It’s like heavy rainstorm in Los Angeles; the ground can absorb only so much and the rest runs off out to sea. And it’s not just companies, by the way – the same holds true for any type of organization where you have new participants, such as volunteers or new students, coming on board.

What is effective is to build in elements of who you are, what you do, your culture and value sets, etc., in a thoughtful manner in the recruiting collateral, recruiting and selection process, and frankly just about any touchpoint you use to wrangle great talent to your shop.

Culture that stresses collaboration and teamwork? Put that in the description that you use in any recruiting advertisements and just as importantly display your penchant and preference for “we” rather than “me” in the way interview teams are composed, the way decisions are made, and yes, the way the new hire is greeted and welcomed.

If you’re half-way thoughtful about this approach, anyone who deals with your organization (vendors, contractors, headhunters, alums, etc.) is kept current on who you are, where you’re going, and the types of qualities of candidates that make great fits and those that should never darken your door because  they will never work out successfully.

Like the new hire who is surprised to find out that Ruth Chris Steak House is heavy on serving beef, starting the information, integration and can we say, indoctrination process before you even hire someone is a savvy way to ensure that instead of a 30% retention rate your new hires at at 70% and climbing as they start their tenure with you.

Author J. Mike Smith is a executive, career, and leadership team coach, helping individuals, start-ups, teams and groups perform significantly better. Over the past 25 years as a senior business executive, J. Mike has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Genentech, AT&T, and Visa. You can learn more about J. Mike at Life Back West.

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