Forward-thinking companies want to secure the top talent, but most of that effort goes into finding and recruiting new hires, not into keeping them once they’re hired. Even once the salary has been agreed on, the benefits have been talked over, and the opportunities have been discussed, the process should just be getting started when it comes to securing an employee’s commitment.
While employee retention practices are usually treated separately from the onboarding process, this isn’t necessarily the best approach. Instead of taking a few days to introduce a new employee to everything they’ll need to know, consider creating a comprehensive integration plan to take them through the first 6, 12, or even 24 months in their position. A well-crafted plan is a powerful tool that will make every employee feel valued as they become confident in their new role.
Turn the top hires into the top performers
When an employee begins working at a new position, they might feel a bit of a disconnect. Say for instance that their employer had been looking for a highly qualified candidate – someone who not only had the right skills, but also the motivation to go above and beyond. It was clear that the company was very interested in hiring this particular person, and they were quick to communicate how valuable the prospective employee would be to the company.
This stage turns out to be just a honeymoon period, though. Once the new hire completes the onboarding process – which only takes a few days – they’re left to run on their own steam. So are they a valued member of a dynamic company, or a cog in a corporate machine? Assuming the company genuinely wants their employees to feel appreciated, this mostly results from a lack of insight and planning on their part.
The good news is, a better plan for long-term integration can completely turn things around. Instead of setting new hires up for months of adjusting by themselves, a company can take the necessary steps to ensure that their employees’ productivity and satisfaction remain high throughout the whole process.
What are the key factors to get right for a strong integration plan?
New hires need to build a strong network, and they need to know that they’re on the right track performance-wise. There are several different ways to achieve this, but here are the ones to focus on.
Building a strong network
- Pair them up with a mentor or peer, depending on the seniority of the position. This could be one of the most important connections a new hire makes because it’ll be the gateway to a lot of their other connections. They’ll learn in-depth about how the company works from someone who knows what they’re talking about, much faster than if they’d done it on their own.
- Introduce new hires to the stakeholders. Not just a brief handshake and a 20-second conversation – schedule phone calls or in-person meetings. The stakeholders will find out what the newest member of the team has to offer, and the employee can get to know some of the people that could offer guidance down the road. It’s also a great way to make new hires feel generally more welcome.
- Make sure they participate in diversity and inclusion activities. Despite the name, a new hire might need an invitation before they feel like D&I activities are really meant to include them. Or, they might just be unaware of the program. Either way, there’s no reason for them to wait before joining in.
- Provide opportunities for social connections outside the workplace. This could be almost any activity, including large or small groups of people, and happen at any time, as long as it puts employees together socially. Even though it doesn’t directly involve work, the results speak for themselves – enjoying time together will give the kind of morale boost that everyone in the company will benefit from.
Knowing how their contributions affect the company
- Give real-time feedback to new hires. Feedback is a vital tool for motivating employees, and it can be especially useful in the first 6 to 12 months. Without timely feedback, a new hire has to simply do what they think is best and hope that they’ve got the right idea. With early and consistent feedback, though, they can learn about their job performance from the company’s perspective. This gives them a chance to correct any mistakes before they become an issue and lets them know that when they do get things right, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
- Assign work gigs to showcase their talents. If they were hired for their skills, then let them use their skills right off the bat! They might even be the ones contributing the ideas – let them know that they have room to grow creatively, and watch the magic happen.
- Give new hires a chance to share ideas with the stakeholders. Just because certain people are in charge doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones with good ideas. A recent arrival to the company will be able to see from a new angle, and they might just have some valuable suggestions to make. On the other side of the coin, a new employee would be able to broaden their perspective of the company if they could hear about it from the stakeholders’ point of view. Aligning ideas like this defines a company’s vision and sense of purpose and fosters an atmosphere of collaboration.
The hardest part of a new job should be the job itself, not the integration process. It might be a bit of an adjustment on the administrative side of things to work out a year-long program for all new hires, but integration software can help streamline the process, and the payoff will be low turnover rates, improved morale, and higher productivity across the board, for as long as the plan is in place. Even with all the available technology, people can still be the most valuable resource a company has – it only makes sense to make sure the right ones stick around.