Woman's hands cutting bulb onion, behind fresh vegetablesStarting a new job is usually a time for excitement, but there are times when a new hire (even one with the best of intentions) quickly becomes a has-been. Employee turnover has always been a headache for HR Professionals, but with the rise of the contingent workforce and the shifting priorities of a changing workforce, many feel that it’s getting worse. The issue with turnover, especially within the first 60-90 days, is that onboarding is barely concluded and costly benefits paperwork has already started and the company, to put it bluntly, loses its substantial investment before it sees any return. Thus, it is in every company’s best interest to figure out just how it can prevent this whole thing.

In fact, onboarding is one such place where employers can make a solid impression, one that can dramatically affect turnover if done right. The first step is having a well-crafted plan. Old school talent management pros may scoff at employment branding and the EVP of modern companies, but it’s pretty important work, not just because of the resulting EVP statement/mission/values but because of the analysis of the company culture and the alignment (hard) work that goes into discovering precisely what it is about your company you want to share. But even if you have the all-important guiding document it means less than nothing if you don’t put it into action. What is your 15-30-60 day plan to expose new employees to the company culture? (Hint: it should have weekly goals)

Another key component of stopping early turnover, is socialization. It can be small (at one company it involved bagels; a solution I’ve heard is rather common) or large, e.g. implementing bonding events and culture building exercises a la Rackspace (click for video). No matter what the resulting event or series thereof, it should be something that brings new employees into the fold. I mean, work constitutes nearly 70 percent of our lives. It doesn’t take a detailed scientific study to assume that people want to work with people they like.

A key issue that is often overlooked is the viewpoint of the new hire. Do you know what he or she is thinking? Have you examined the person’s mindset? What are his or her expectations and how can your organization meet them and explain its own? All of these represent the other side of the relationship. Too often, all the blame lies with the organization when turnover is massive (and to be fair a lot of the blame does in actuality resides there), but there is more than one level of accountability and expectation. Make it your business to discover the mindset and expectations of your new hires. You can achieve this by creating simple recruiting and onboarding audits and by asking people who were once new hires….otherwise known as your employees.

Answer the who, what, when and where. Most new hires don’t know that Pam from Benefits is the person to ask about time off and that Manager A will miss meetings far more often than Manager B. If you aren’t addressing these “sure-to-come-up” issues with them ahead of time, you are wasting their time, and in turn, the company’s. Show them where to get the information they need and how to bookmark it on their toolbar, explain the policies of company areas so they aren’t left wondering why their keycard doesn’t work and make sure that you pair them with a happy-to-help mentor who can help them find their way when management isn’t available.

By revamping your onboarding cycle with information and asking additional employees for their time and opinion, HR can alter expectations that have gone ignored. By addressing and identifying unmet needs in the recruiting and training processes, talent management pros can create a better experience, post-hire. And by surveying new hires (yes, even when they decide to leave) and measuring the progress of the aforementioned ideas, YOU can have a decided impact on the turnover in your organization.

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