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How Do We Boost Retention of New Hires?

We want to boost our retention of new hires. What we most want to know is what it will take for new employees to commit to staying with us long term. Are there any secrets to learning this in advance of hiring? —Missing the Link, HR generalist, architectural/engineering, Miami
March 20, 2013
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Related Topics: Retention, Dear Workforce, Talent Management
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Dear Missing the Link:

It probably is not realistic for you to expect an employee to commit to staying with you long term. In fact, I would never advise an employee to make an upfront commitment to stay with any employer long term.

Why?

Simply because things change: The employee might be assigned to a new boss he/she doesn't like, be placed on a work team that turns out to be dysfunctional, or doesn't advance as quickly as expected because senior employees decide not to retire.

However, here are five things you can do to increase the likelihood of longer-term retention:

1. Understand Why People Leave

Make sure your exit interviews uncover the real reasons your new hires leave. This may mean having a trusted third party conduct your exit interviews. Or perhaps have a third party conduct focus groups with new hires. Chances are that you will uncover a pattern of root causes that need to be addressed, or perhaps evidence that poor managers are the problem.

2. Give Realistic Job Previews

In the U.S. economy, about 40 percent of employee turnover occurs during the first six months of employment. The most common reason for this high rate is that new hires often have unrealistic expectations. One example is a bank's customer service rep that takes the job not realizing how distasteful it can be to deal with angry customers, and then quits after two weeks. The solution: Make an extra effort to give job finalists a preview of what the job is—warts and all. It is better they withdraw from consideration than to be hired only to quit once you incur the expense of training them.

3. Institute a First-Year On-Boarding Process, Not Just an Orientation

Don't just conduct a one- or two-day new-hire orientation. Instead, design a series of year-long activities to help ensure that new hires feel welcomed and valued. Start by making sure team members come around and welcome them on their first day. Assign every manager to conduct "entrance interviews" and a series of check-in meetings with their new hires, during which expectations are addressed and re-addressed over the first few weeks, including the critical discussion of mutual expectations. Assign a buddy to be available for questions, meet for lunch, and "take the new-hire's temperature" every now and then. It's also advisable to assign an HR rep to check in with new hires and have managers conduct periodic "stay interviews."

4. Challenge Them Often and Provide Plenty of Feedback

So-called "millennials" (people born between 198a and 1995) tend to want, and need, to believe the work they do is important (as we all do). Thus, don't hesitate to feed them meaningful challenges. Many are used to constant coaching from their parents and they expect more of the same from the managers in the workplace. Encourage them to ask for feedback when they need it, but also be prepared to give more of it than you may have received yourself (or are accustomed to giving). To accomplish this, also be prepared to train your managers on the necessity and importance of coaching/feedback, and some how-to ideas on the best approaches.

5. Learn Who Stays and Hire More Like Them

Validate your pre-selection assessments by asking longer-tenured high performers to take them. Study the traits that make them better long-term fits and hiring risks. Create behavioral interview questions that screen for the factors that separate high performers from average ones.

These aren't secrets, but they are best practices that are working at many great workplaces today. Put them into practice and you will see positive results.

SOURCE: Leigh Branham, Keeping the People Inc., Overland Park, Kansas

LEARN MORE: Please read Do We Really Need to Still Care About Retention?

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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