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Hang on to Your New Hires

Your risk of losing talent is highest in the first three to six months on the job. Why might that be? Too often we choose the right people but fail to support them as they assume their new roles. It is crucial that you extend the handshake in ways that matter to each new hire.

Orientation (also known as onboarding) and ongoing support are key pieces of the selection process and will increase the odds of your new hires’ success, contribution to and tenure on the team. New hires come to an organization fully charged, excited about their new adventure, and filled with energy and potential. By effectively tapping into that energy, knowledge, and wisdom right from the start, you can maximize the new employee’s potential and productivity well past the first year.

We know that many quick quits can be prevented. There is a direct correlation between shortened tenure and actions you do, or do not, take (yup, sorry—you again). Develop a relationship. Show you care. Start by having conversations with your new employees.

Talk About Relationships
Help them build relationships, and they’re more likely to stay. Fill their “lunch cards” for at least the first two weeks. In your early, ongoing conversations, you might ask questions like these:
  • What kind of support or direction do you need from me that you aren’t getting? What are you getting that you don’t want?
  • How are you getting along with your other team members? What introductions would you like me to make? Are you finding people to go to lunch with? Are you finding people to go to when you need help?

Talk About the Job
They joined your organization because you offered work they love to do. Are they doing it? If the job doesn’t measure up to what you promised, find ways to close the gap. Check in early and often—daily in the beginning. These questions should help:

  • How does the job measure up to what we promised so far? Where are we on or off? How might we course-correct?
  • What other interests would you like to explore, either now or over time?

Talk About the Organization
The people you carefully recruited and selected are now onboard. Are they wondering who or what they’ve joined? Early on, ask questions like these:

  • How does the work pace and schedule work for you? Is there anything we need to adjust?
  • How is our organization the same or different from your last employer? What do you miss most? Least?
  • How can I help you get more of what you want from this workplace? We want you to be happy here!

Yes, all this conversation and connecting requires time and energy on your part. But it might just prevent a quick quit!

Action Steps

  • Meet with your new hires often: daily for the first week, weekly for the first month, once every two weeks for the first quarter, and then at least once a month for the rest of the first year. Build your relationship consistently.
  • Have an “expectations exchange” with your new (and existing) employees. Clearly define what you expect from them and ask what they are expecting from you. Help them understand how their work connects to corporate strategies.
  • Introduce them to others on your team even before their first day. People with several options could be tempted by another offer before they show up for the first day of work.
  • Spend time teaching them about the organization they have just joined. Tell stories, sharing your experiences and knowledge about the culture and history.
  • Involve your key people in the new hires’ orientation. Expose new employees to others’ views as well as your own.
  • Mentor and find mentors for them as they work to close the inevitable skill gaps.
  • Observe them—what do they enjoy the most? What’s easiest or hardest for them to learn?
  • Develop a learning plan to ensure they are challenged.
  • Ask great questions...ongoingly

Be available to support new hires in this uncertain early stage of their employment. That may mean seeking them out to see how they are doing and conveying that you are behind them all the way.

Marta showed up for her first day of work and found bagels and cream cheese on her desk—lots of them! Then people started coming to introduce themselves, welcome her to the team, and get their bagels. Marta’s boss said it’s one great way to ensure his newly hired talent met everyone on the team—before 10 am.

Get creative as you think about ways to welcome your new talent.

Re-recruit as Well
But what about the rest of your talent? While you are busy hiring the best-fit candidates for key roles on your team, do a little re-recruiting along the way. Often candidates and new employees are viewed as close to perfect (their warts haven’t surfaced yet), and they get all the attention. If you have done a great job of selecting, you will have a whole new collection of stars. Your long-term employees can feel less noticed, less appreciated, and perhaps even taken for granted as you carefully select, orient, and train these new folks. Avoid that dangerous phenomenon by re-recruiting all of your talent. Show your current employees that they are important and critical to you and to the success of your team, especially as you recruit new team members.

If you’re not recruiting your best people, you’re the only one who isn’t.

Bottom Line
Great managers are great recruiters. The best never take down their “Help Wanted” sign. “Fit is it” when it comes to hiring. If you get the right people in the right roles in your organization and on your team, you absolutely will increase the odds of retaining them. And don’t ever stop re-recruiting your key talent. Remember, your competitors want the talent you’ve worked so hard to hire.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Copyright 2014. Published by Berrett-Koehler.

You can learn more about recruiting and retaining employees at these AMA seminars:
Recruiting, Interviewing and Selecting Employees

AMA Business Boot Camp

About the Author(s)

Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans are coauthors of Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay (Berrett-Koehler 2014), from which this article is excerpted. Beverly Kaye is founder and chairwoman of Career Systems International and the author of Up Is Not the Only Way. Sharon Jordan-Evans is president of the Jordan Evans Group.