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February 13, 2012

Effective Onboarding – Is it the Key to Employee Retention?

Throughout my career in human resources, I have had the fortunate experience of working for different organizations.  Some big, some small, some privately owned, some publicly traded, some in white collar settings, and others in blue collar industries.  I guess you could say I have a “diverse” background.

Just as diverse in these experiences was the method of onboarding, or lack thereof.  As we continue to explore the topic of turnover, I have been researching the subject of onboarding and the link it has to retention.  Statistics from the Aberdeen Group indicate that 90% of employees make the decision to stay at a firm within six months of joining, making the onboarding process a key to retaining talent.   That is certainly a percentage that caught my attention and made me wonder:  what happens in the first six months for an employee to form an opinion of whether to stay or jump ship?

Onboarding is defined as the long-term process of bringing new employees into the company, making sure they know what is expected of them and how to add value.   As organizations, I believe we do a great job in defining the items that are used to attract employees such as compensation, benefits, and work-life balance.   But once we get them in the door, we seem to fall short in the long-term processes.

Based on my experiences, the effectiveness of onboarding has nothing to do with the size of the company, the type of company, or how many people are in their human resources department.  It has more to do with the relationship that is established from the very beginning.  I’ll be expanding on this in next week’s blog.  But in the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your experiences in onboarding or what your company does to make it effective.

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