Hiring is a two-way street. To land a job, a candidate must woo their future employer; to keep the candidate, the employer has to woo its new hire.

This is why onboarding is so critical: 31 percent of employees have quit a job within six months of being hired, and 33 percent of employees know whether they are going to stay for the long term within a week of starting their job. Studies show a bad onboarding experience is a top driver of this early turnover.

Hiring can take anywhere between a few days and a few months, and the average cost per hire is roughly $4,129. Given the heavy investment, it is in your company’s best interest to ensure each new hire sticks around.

How can you do that? Start by implementing these five tips to improve your onboarding process:

1. Set Up Your New Hire’s Desk Before Their First Day

Imagine walking into a brand new environment, full of complete strangers, and there’s nowhere for you to sit. Feels pretty awkward, doesn’t it?

Having your new hire’s desk ready to go when they arrive is a simple gesture, but it speaks volumes. The more unprepared you are for your new hire, the more they’ll feel you hired them on a whim. You don’t want to send that message. Having the employee’s desk prepared also allows them to start working and get up to speed faster, which is exactly why you hired them in the first place.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your new hire’s desk:

- Set up as many of their intranet accounts as possible. They can change their information at a later time if they’d like to.
- Have their computer ready to go, with any programs they may need already installed.
- A starter kit full of company swag or office supplies is a great welcome gift.

When your new hire walks in to find a desk ready and a computer fired up for them, they’ll understand you are serious about supporting their contributions to the company.

2. Present New Hires With Immediate Development Opportunities

You may have stressed during the hiring process that your employee would have plenty of opportunities to grow professionally at your company. While you may not be able to offer career advancement during their first week on the job, you can still help them grow.

For example, during its onboarding program, customer experience software developer Medallia helps its new hires overcome their fears. As the company’s former head of HR, David Galloreese, writes:

“We also provide a safe and supportive environment for people to face their fears — whether it’s overcoming a fear of needles by donating blood, or a fear of being the center of attention by singing in front of an audience. This may seem like a gross deviation from the skills training that is required with any new position, but it’s not a ‘feel-good’ week of fluff. Instead, it’s designed to challenge our employees’ assumptions and to instill a common language of understanding that forms the glue of our company culture.”

This may not be “professional development” per se, but it is a personal growth opportunity that shows employees Medallia is truly invested in helping them be the best they can be. This, in turn, promotes trust and company cohesion.

Especially if you used career development to market your job opportunities, it’s vital you start a new hire’s tenure by proving your dedication is real. Keep in mind, too, that development can go further than the workplace. Find out what an employee wants to succeed in and how you can help. You may discover a talent of theirs your team can utilize that you didn’t even know they had.

3. Cut the Paperwork

The last thing any new hire wants to do is a mountain of paperwork. Instead of giving them an oxygen mask in preparation for their ascent of Mount Papermanjaro, try making the process a little more fun.

For example, check out the incredibly entertaining handbook that video game developer Valve hands its new hires. Tired with the traditional onboarding process — in which confused new hires often took six months to get up to full productivity — Valve created a much more enjoyable document that still manages to give employees all the information they need.

Not every company is going to have the time, energy, or know-how to create an employee handbook like Valve’s, but here are some things anyone can do:

- Complete as much of the new hire paperwork as you can before the employee’s first day. Utilize digital signatures so the employee can fill out forms without having to be in the office.
- Give your new employee an electronic copy of everything they may want to read or refer back to in the future.
- Consider ditching the paper process entirely and adopting a totally paperless onboarding software solution.

4. Show Your New Hire Why Their Work Matters

One of the most difficult things for a new hire to understand is the impact their daily work has on the company’s larger vision and the wider world. However, employees need to plug into a purpose if they are too feel motivated for the long term. This is especially true for your millennial new hires, 64 percent of whom would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job that bores them.

To get your new hire more excited about their job, show them the big picture. What your company does is exciting, and they should know they play an important role in its mission.

If you have the resources and bandwidth, consider making an onboarding video that introduces key players and clients and the company’s history, including its past successes and current goals. The video should outline how the new hire and their teammates fit into the grand scheme, giving them a reason to come to work every day.

5. Prioritize Team-Building

Help your new hire build relationships with their coworkers quickly. Not only will this help the new hire feel more at ease, but it will also help strengthen the overall company culture and boost morale. According to Gallup, 51 percent of people with a best friend at work feel passion for their job and “a profound connection to the company,” compared to only 10 percent of people without a best friend at work.

Encourage strong relationships between new hires and their teammates with these team-building activities:

- Take your new hire and your team out for lunch or dinner.
- Host a trivia game where your team gets to know your new hire.
- Take a team walk to show your new hire around the community where your office is located.

Where Does Your Onboarding Process Stand?

Designing an onboarding process to win over new hires may seem unnecessary, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a standard onboarding process can boost productivity by as much as 54 percent!

There are so many different ways you can welcome your new hires, but only a few of those ways are right for your company. Take a look inward. What is your existing onboarding process like, and how can you make improvements?

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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