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Fast Company

Hit The Ground Running

6 Ways To Avoid Losing Your New Hires

Skimp on training and orienting new employees and you'll miss a window of opportunity to keep them growing—and working for you.

You’ve just hired an impressive new member for your team, and you need them up to speed and contributing quickly. But what if you had to wait a whole year to see this person operating at their maximum efficiency? Unfortunately, this is the reality for many companies that haven’t mastered the art of the new hire onboarding process.

According to a 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, it takes a year or longer for most new hires to get up and running in 30% of companies. It’s no wonder Gallup recently unveiled that 70% of the American workforce is checked out on the job.

Imagine scoring your dream job and then muddling through the dark for 12 months. It would be hard for any employee to recapture their passion and stay engaged.

Here are a few tips to fix your onboarding strategy and engage with new hires before the new year:

1. Write Smarter Job Descriptions

Ensuring you’ve hired the right person is more easily said than done. With the war for talent raging and a dearth of opportunity, the average corporate job posting is now attracting about 250 resumes. It’s hard to filter out the noise and zero in on the right person for the job.

It’s essential to write smarter job descriptions more likely to attract the kind of talent you need in your organization. Before setting pen to paper, spend some time critically thinking about what it is you need in an ideal employee. What goals will they need to accomplish? What skills will they need to have?

Once you have a good idea of what you need, make the job description as concrete and action-based as possible. This is more likely to attract candidates with the right stuff, and it makes it easier to wade through job seekers who don’t have what you need.

2. Make Goals a Priority

When looking at your onboarding process, before you can get to the specifics you
need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Are you approaching your new employees’ workflow from a goal-centric perspective? Do your current employees understand the organization’s large-scale goals and organizational objectives?

According to Dale Carnegie Training’s "How Leaders Grow Today" survey, 43% of employees are familiar with company goals but can’t specifically name them. It’s impossible to imagine new employees jumping into the fray at your company if they don’t know which direction they’re running towards. Always keep your most important goals in view so new hires aren’t working in the dark.

3. Stop Problems Early With Real-Time Tracking

It’s an unfortunate fact of your business life that eventually work will cascade away from goals instead of towards them. It’s perilously easy for work to get misaligned, especially when you’re dealing with new employees trying to navigate a steep learning curve.

This is why it’s important to embrace new tech tools helping businesses keep work flowing in the right direction and providing guidance to new hires. Real-time tracking tools allow employees to take ownership of their workflow by tracking their efforts, while helping you keep an eye on your team.

If you see a new hire make a mistake on the job, you can now stop the problem before it snowballs. You can stop a small mistake from becoming a bad habit for a new employee, and can provide for meaningful and actionable feedback for those new to the company.

4. Develop a Mentorship Program

If your new hires don’t feel as if they’re learning and growing on the job, you’re at risk to lose upwards of 60% of your entire workforce within four years. Fortunately, your best teachers are your current top performers and would likely be more than happy to help.

Develop and implement a robust mentorship program in order to give new hires the guidance they need, while also connecting them more personally to the company culture. Ask for employees willing to mentor new team members, and check in on these mentor-mentee relationships to make sure they’re going smoothly.

A good mentorship program can also give your company culture a boost by improving workplace interactions and teamwork.

5. Provide Educational Opportunities

Twenty-five percent of companies admit their onboarding program doesn’t involve training of any kind. This is shocking, and this fact can certainly contribute to misaligned work and mistakes.

Adequate training must be a building block of your onboarding program so new hires can dive into their roles and get up to speed quickly. But an initial training session or two can’t be the extent of your company’s learning opportunities. You should present employees with ongoing opportunities for educational and professional development.

No employee wants to stagnate within the company, and providing opportunities for growth is the best way to ensure your employees are working up to their full potential.

6. Set Clear Benchmarks For Success

One of the reasons employees aren’t working up to their full potential is because they don’t understand what is expected of them. In fact, 60% of companies don’t set any milestones or concrete goals for new hires to attain. Therefore new hires have no idea if they’re on the right track or way off course.

Aligning your people to each other and their goals is essential here. By tracking in real-time and making goals crystal clear, you can set concrete benchmarks for employees to hit. This gives new hires a clear direction and a concrete sense their efforts are positively contributing to the organization from day one.

You don’t have a whole year to wait for your best new hires to get up to speed. It’s time to focus on goals, track your people, and provide training in order to get new talent up and running in your company. Your onboarding process might be broken, but with these fixes you can empower new employees to shine.

What do you think? What’s the most important aspect of your onboarding process? Share in the comments!

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Roman Boed]