You have an open position and a list of finalists who match your requirements. The candidates are well-versed in your company, its mission, and its products/services. They even clearly understand the drawbacks that may go along with being an employee at your organization.
How do you know that the candidate you choose is going to stick around for several years to come? How do you know that you’re not going to have to go through this same hiring process all over again next year?
The solutions we advocate in this article are simple in theory, but potentially difficult in execution. That being said, employers looking to improve their retention rates would do well to follow the advice we offer.
Checking the Map
A clear sign that someone may be a great new hire is whether or not they ask this question in the interview: “What do I need to do to be successful in the first ninety days at this job?”
Clearly, candidates who ask this question have their finger on the productivity button and are mindful that your vacancy is really an advertisement for a specific need in the organization. Filling that need means better returns for you, and a paycheck for them.
Every position in your company should be tied to a 90-day plan for success. Some call this plan a “career roadmap.” This structured approach to onboarding is critical, as studies have shown that employees are most likely to leave in the early stages of their employment when they are unsure of their career path in the organization.
The Wynhurst Group, a Washington, D.C.-based executive consulting firm, has found that 22 percent of all employees who leave do so in their first 45 days on the job. Similarly, a 2013-report from the Aberdeen Group found that employers who fail to properly onboard their workers have staggeringly low retention rates: only 30 percent of their first-year employees stayed on.
In contrast, the Aberdeen Group found that “best-in-class” companies with strong onboarding procedures keep nine out of ten employees past their first year with the company. It should be obvious, then, that a employee’s first months with a company are the most critical for long-term retention.
And while each company — and indeed, each role — differs significantly, there are some basic guidelines for drawing a clear roadmap for new employees that all employers can follow (time frames are suggestive):
- Draw a clean deadline for the employee to have a cursory knowledge of your systems and tools (<30 days).
- Allow the employee to witness the use of your product or services in the intended environment (<30 days).
- Give your employee the chance to work with other departments within the company (<60 days).
- Assign a project that is unique to the individual employee (<60 days).
- Establish a major project to be completed by the end of the onboarding period (<90 days).
Once you establish a roadmap for your new hires, it is important to make sure their experiences measure up to the promises of the map itself. To do this, make sure you’re actively soliciting and paying attention to employee feedback.
Glassdoor, Indeed, and TheLadders all allow employees to share their experiences — good, bad, and ugly — working for a given employer. They’re also becoming destinations for job seekers who want to understand what it is like to work for a particular company. On a single page, users can review interview practices, employee feedback, salaries, and other information from real employees.
The simplest — and perhaps most important — piece of advice in this article is this: if you don’t already have a presence on these websites, get that done today. All three platforms have no initial startup costs, and they all provide significant value by empowering your employer branding team to control both how satisfied new employees are with their jobs, and how job seekers see your company.
Retention Is a Group Effort
When it comes to employer branding, your greatest asset is your existing workforce. There is no better way to retain talent than by engaging employees and keeping them apprised of everything going on at your company.
This is even more critical in organizations that are vertically integrated, or where teams do not regularly interact with one another. Establishing communication within and between these “silos” is a fantastic way to generate employee satisfaction and present a positive employer brand to new and potential hires.
Rather than appointing someone to courier updates from one building to the next, provide your employees with a private space to discuss updates among themselves. Consider, too, opening a company intranet with a safe, moderated discussion space. Then, centralize your company news in one easy-to-find location, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter (or perhaps a separate section of your own website).
You can direct your employees to these channels whenever new content arrives. You may also want to employ more robust employee-centric social tools, like Bambu or Yammer, to push content out to employees.
To turn your employees into ambassadors of your employer brand, incentivize the sharing of company-related content across social media platforms. Here are just a few examples of successful campaigns that other companies have tried:
- Ask employees to capture your company logo in a public place with a smartphone and use a hashtag to share it. The more shares their photo gets, the greater the prize they receive.
- Give your employees one of your products and ask them to use it outside of the office. Then, ask them to complete a public quiz on the experience.
- Plan a company retreat and collect impressions from the trip via social media.
- Take the employee of the month wall, and replace it with a space that workers can use to share their daily successes.
There are many great ways to keep (or lose) the talent you have. Provide an obvious plan for success, solicit constant feedback, and give your employees reasons to feel engaged and appreciated. Doing these things will not only allow you to keep the people you have, but it will also allow you to attract many more great hires in the future.