The First 90 Days Are Critical to Long-Term Retention
November 8, 2007 - Patty Prosser
You know the old adage, “You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression?” Well, never have truer words been spoken as it relates to retaining new talent! Even though the competitive scramble for talent may have eased off in the last 12-18 months, according to a survey by Management Recruiters, there is still a demand for mid-to-upper level management, high-level executives and professionals in most organizations today.
Companies spend weeks, perhaps even months, courting key talent to their organizations, all the while espousing the many cultural assets that make their workplaces great places to be. But living up to that hype or risk losing a new employee (with all the associated costs that go along with that loss) can be very challenging. And many organizations fail miserably.
Research shows that positively engaging new employees early in the new hire process
can make a marked difference in keeping retention to a minimum. That first 90 days of a new employee’s engagement is key to his or her success.
But, many companies miss the mark with new employees simply because of a lack of preparation and planning. Even fairly sophisticated companies lack a consistent, systematic and strategically focused approach to “onboarding” new employees and assimilating them successfully into the organization. And by the time most company leaders realize something has gone amiss, they are already six or nine months down the road. In order to “fix” the problem, they now must go back and do what they should have done in the beginning!
Many organizations today are missing the opportunity to successfully engage that new hire from day one. This is usually because there is no clear process for assisting the individual in becoming successful.
Giving an employee a leg up in prioritizing key actions and activities that can contribute to his or her success can make a huge difference in increasing productivity and job satisfaction. And it’s not just a matter of having clear performance goals and objectives that align with company needs and expectations. Nor is it a matter of knowing to whom the new employee can go with questions and requests for help to avoid derailment.
Critical to the individual’s success, is knowing which key relationships in the organization need to be forged. Certain relationships will help accelerate the newcomer’s time to full productivity and engagement.
Organizations that successfully orient and assimilate new hires effectively share some common practices:
- They hire an external “onboarding” coach or assign an internal mentor to help guide the new employee through the critical early stages of his or her new assignment.
- They have in-depth orientation training designed to help new employees learn techniques that enable them to “connect” with their new team members and build an environment of trust and open communication.
- They commit to and demonstrate the right actions and behaviors to ensure mutual success.
- They make controlling turnover everybody’s responsibility by encouraging team members working with the new hire to recognize signs that he or she, or any other team member, might be “at risk.” They then arm them with techniques they can use to offer support and help turn the situation around.
- And, they survey at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals to see how things are going and address issues they uncover before they become bigger problems.
These companies have found that by being focused and intentional in assimilating new hires can significantly reduce absenteeism, job abandonment and turnover.
So, ask yourself, what mechanisms does your company have in place to ensure that the first 90 days of a new employee’s career gets off on the right footing? Do a little research among recent new hires to your organization to gauge their experiences. By doing so, I am willing to bet you’ll end up with more than enough new opportunities to enhance the new-hire experience. In return, you can create the right first impression that can lead to many great career experiences going forward.
Patty Prosser is managing partner of OI Partners, Indianapolis. She can be reached at 317-264-4178 or email@example.com.