Cutting Red Tape

Culture Renovation Blueprint Action #13: Make Onboarding About Relationships Versus Red Tape

Once a culture renovation is underway, the hardest part can be maintaining it.  It’s easy to drift back to the way things used to be if attention isn’t given to maintenance activities.

Onboarding is among the most important of those activities, and typically, onboarding is dreaded for everyone involved. You’ve heard the joke before: the best day of an employee’s life is when they get offered the job, and the worst day is their first day on the job. Most of us would not label our first day on the job as a great one.

Given onboarding’s challenges, it’s easy to see why new hire attrition is so high in organizations—estimates range from 20 percent to much higher. Losing new hires at any point in the first year is not only frustrating but expensive (from 50 percent of salary for an entry-level role to 200 percent for an executive).

Improving the onboarding experience is one way to combat this. In i4cp’s research, 90 percent of organizations have an onboarding process, but only 44 percent indicated that their process achieved the outcomes they wanted. Feedback from the workforce is worse. Only 12 percent of employees think their company did a good job of onboarding.

While most companies spend time looking at the duration of onboarding, the quality of the content, or the onboarding facilitator, the most overlooked aspect of onboarding has proven to be the most critical: helping the new hire establish a network of trusted subject matter experts who will contribute to that person’s career success.

Research has repeatedly shown that relationships matter a great deal in determining whether a new hire will thrive or flame out quickly. Through the right relationships, new hires often get the information, advice, and support they need to speed their indoctrination to the organization.

Often this improves productivity and early successes, which in turn helps individuals build an internal standing, leads to bigger and more visible assignments, and a lengthier tenure.

Ensuring connections are made early-on also helps indoctrinate the new hire into the culture of the organization, especially if it’s a newly renovated culture. Yet today, only 20 percent of companies believe that helping new hires establish an internal network is currently an objective of onboarding.

If you are fretting about first-year attrition, ask an important question: what did we do to help those new hires establish internal relationships?

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