How A Meaningful Onboarding Plan Can Improve Employee Retention

If you’ve already gone to the trouble of finding, interviewing, and hiring some amazing new talent, it’s worth the effort of making their early days as an employee as engaging and meaningful as possible. Even their first day experience with your organization can make a difference in how invested they are in their work, how deeply they contribute to company culture, and ultimately, how long they decide to stay.

When you make an onboarding experience effective, here’s what you’re saying to a new employee:

  • You’re more than just another warm body at our company. We see you as an individual, and we want to help you fit in here.
  • It’s important to us that as a member of our team, you understand the specifics of your role here, as well as what we’re all about.
  • We want you to start building skills and knowledge, right from day 1, so that you’re more likely to be successful in your new role.
  • We have great resources and great people here, and we want you to know how to access them any time you need them.

What are some of the most important things to consider when building an onboarding program?

  • It has to be based on specific learning objectives. Don’t use onboarding training as a way to put newcomers through their paces, or just keep them busy. Think hard about what they actually need to know in order to hit the ground running.
  • It needs to be interactive. There’s nothing more daunting, and quite frankly, boring, than a giant binder of policies and procedures. New hires should be invited and expected to do something with the information you give them.
  • It should be collaborative. As newcomers make their way through the materials, they should have access to others who are also new, as well as those who’ve already completed the program.
  • Wherever possible, it should be self-paced. If there is a time frame in which modules need to be completed, that’s understandable, but wherever possible, it’s important to allow learners to take the time they need.
  • There needs to be an understanding that some new hires will fly through onboarding materials on their own, while others will need extra guidance. Remember that performance in an onboarding program doesn’t necessarily dictate long-term performance.
  • It must appeal to a variety of learners. Some will prefer visual aids, some will be fine with audio materials, and some will do better with a hands-on approach. Don’t assume that one size will fit all.
  • It should focus on long-term goals, in addition to immediate needs. Even if it’s just their first day or week, it’s important for them to see how they can contribute over a long period of time, and how they’ll continue to be supported.

Celebrating a new hire’s arrival with an effective and personalized approach to onboarding can mean the difference between someone quickly becoming a valuable (and long-standing) part of the team, and seeing someone else in their seat a few months later.