Onboarding New Employees: How To Keep Them After You Hire Them

First impressions are critical for many people when they start new jobs, yet they can also be critical for solution providers when they hire good talent into critical roles, especially if they can help the company grow.

Those first impressions tend to be baked into an employee's mind during the onboarding process, when he or she starts the new job, and they can be critical toward ensuring that the employee won't have second thoughts about having accepted the job offer.

How critical is an organized onboarding process? More than two-thirds of employees – 69 percent – are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they've had a positive onboard experience, according to O.C. Tanner, a consultancy based in Salt Lake City, Utah, that helps companies with employee recognition programs.

Here are two other findings from O.C. Tanner:

  • Up to 20 percent of employees will leave within 45 days of being hired, which underscores the need for hiring managers to "check in" with new hires within the first month to gauge how things are going.
  • Three of every five companies – 60 percent – indicate that they don't establish any "milestones or concrete goals for new hires to attain." Tanner advises that an employer should review a new hire's progress by the end of the second month on the job, and openly recognize accomplishments.

At a time when technology companies are feeling the pressure of a technology skills gap that makes it tough to find and hire IT professionals for critical roles, effective onboarding has become a key retention strategy. "Offering tailored transition support during the onboarding process can help individuals … ensure that they are energized, engaged and focused on delivering the results for which they have been hired," Lynne Hardman of U.K.-based consultancy Working Transitions wrote this month.

CentricsIT, a solution provider based in Norcross, Ga. – No. 301 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 - recently launched a program to help with the onboarding process. The program, CentricsP2P (for peer to peer), pairs a new employee with someone who has been with the company more than five years. "This gives a new employee a seasoned resource who is not his or her manager—a person available for advice and answering questions," Emily Santa Maria, the program coordinator, told ITBestOfBreed in an email. "It … brings a more human, personal experience to the employee onboarding process that aligns well with our core values.”

Out west, in the Bay Area, Groupware Technology does something similar, according to CEO Mike Thompson. The company assigns a "shadow" to assist the new hire and guide him or her through those early stages, especially to help the new hire become acclimated to the roles and responsibilities of the new job.

Groupware, based in Campbell, Calif., has tried to streamline the onboarding process, and with good results, according to Thompson. "The feedback that we've gotten from the new employees is that it's been a positive experience for them," he said.