We’re currently in a job seeker’s market. Skilled workers know they have many opportunities available to them, and they’re job hopping for higher salaries and career progression. But turnover is not only expensive, it can be downright disruptive to your business—especially if it happens in a mission-critical role or if you can’t backfill the role quickly enough.

The market for skilled talent is extremely competitive and recruiting is one of the top challenges HR teams are facing today. If a team member leaves, there’s no guarantee you can find a suitable replacement in a timely manner.

Your best bet is to focus on retention throughout the employee lifecycle, beginning with onboarding. Here’s how.

Instill a sense of belonging

Less than a quarter (23%) of employees feel a sense of belonging at work, which may encourage many of them to seek out other opportunities that could be a better fit. 

Take time during the employee onboarding process to foster connections between employees so new hires will immediately feel like a part of the team. For example:

  • Send a welcome email with fun facts about you new hire and encourage everyone on your team to reach out and introduce themselves
  • Introduce your new team member to a work buddy that can help answer questions and ease the transition to a new role
  • Promote employee resource groups (ERGs) so your new hires can connect with colleagues around shared characteristics, interests, and issues 

Fostering strong work connections can be particularly important for remote workers who tend to feel more isolated because they don’t have opportunities to meet colleagues around the office.

Get started with professional development 

Employee onboarding is an ideal time to discuss career paths, goals, and development plans for each new hire. Investing in professional development shows your team members that they will have opportunities to learn and grow within your organization—as well as earn compensation increases over time. This can alleviate the two of most common reasons for turnover (i.e. compensation and career advancement) with just one retention initiative.

Review each new team members’ career aspirations and set a professional development plan to help them gain the skills needed to succeed in their current roles and achieve career growth. Development activities might include:

Regularly revisit employee development plans to realign them with your team members’ goals and your organization’s needs. Doing so on an employees’ first and second work anniversaries doubles the likelihood that they’ll feel fulfilled instead of needing a backfill.

Keep open lines of communication

Frequent communication encourages your team members to ask questions, provide feedback, and share concerns—not only during onboarding, but long-term. This creates open lines of communication so you can address issues before they lead to turnover. 

You can create open lines of communication by:

  • Checking in with your new hires on days 1, 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90, at a minimum
  • Sending new hire surveys to collect anonymous feedback
  • Using an exit survey when people leave so you can uncover opportunities for improvement

Great communication during the employee onboarding period sets the stage for ongoing communication throughout the employee lifecycle. Keep it going with engagement surveys, check-ins, and an open door policy that makes it easy for your team members to communicate their needs and provide feedback.

Show team members you care and that you take their feedback and concerns seriously by taking action on them. In doing so, they will know they can come to you if something is off. For example, instead of quitting when they’re ready for a new professional challenge or a salary increase, they can come to you to learn what it will take to earn a promotion and a raise. Or if they feel strongly that they could be more productive and happier by working remotely, you can address the possibility of more flexible work arrangements.

Final thoughts on onboarding for retention

Better employee onboarding can set the stage for retention. 

Employees who say they had exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace. In fact, 70% of those with exceptional onboarding experiences say they have "the best possible job." 

Employee onboarding is a worthwhile investment that will help you retain the skilled talent you’ve worked so hard to recruit and train—but don’t stop there. You will need to extend this great early employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle if you want to retain people long-term.


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Onboarding to Retention: The Key to Retaining Skilled Workers