The absence of an intentional, strategic approach to new-hire orientation is the black hole of organizational employee engagement and retention, with all the related costs in low productivity and churn.
Recent research from the Corporate Leadership Council demonstrates the real business impact of employee commitment: “Highly committed employees perform up to 20 percent better than less-engaged employees and are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization than employees with low levels of commitment.”
It is expensive to find, train and replace employees. HR experts estimate turnover costs at 30 percent to 50 percent of an employee’s first-year pay. Some suggest the true cost is closer to 100 percent.
On the other hand, top-performing companies have fewer than 5 percent of their employees leave during their first year. What are they doing differently? According to The Benchmark Partners, 75 percent of these companies have their new hires participate in a formal onboarding process.
What Normally Happens in New-Hire Orientations?
In a “Dilbert” cartoon, new-hire orientation is depicted as a process in which the new hire is told to stand in a hallway and read several binders.
Unfortunately, this reflects the experience of many. Typical onboarding in many enterprises includes a company introduction, an overview of different policies and guidelines, an explanation of how to use different information systems, exchanges of information from human resources and so forth — a minimal investment of time and effort.
There is little effort to ask new hires what their expectations are as they enter the organization. The knowledge acquired during orientation is delivered too soon, and it is inefficiently applied much later at work. There is lack of consistency in the organizational messages. Most orientation programs are not fun or exciting for the participants or for those responsible for the delivery.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is not well understood that disengagement often occurs during the first six months on the job. However, if the new hires think they have value to contribute to the organization, their managers are committed to their success and their work is relevant to achieving organizational objectives, they become productive more quickly.
What are the Best Practices for Onboarding?
The significant losses employee disengagement and turnover create should make CLOs everywhere sit up and take notice. Of course, there are multiple perspectives on how these can be improved, yet one of the easiest to resolve is the onboarding process.
By creating positive emotions at the beginning of the company’s relationship with new hires, they want to deliver the best results and stay where they are appreciated, valued and productive.
Nick van Dam, Ph.D., is global chief learning officer for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. He is founder of the e-Learning For Kids Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.