Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Retaining Talented New Hires
Jim Newman has written an excellent article for Fast Company regarding retention of talented new hires. He focuses on the on-boarding process, arguing that an ineffective approach can do irreparable harm. New hires may be gone in a very short period of time if firms mishandle those crucial days and weeks. He argues that firms should focus on three things:
1. Initiate Dialogue Before Orientation
In a number of instances, a significant period of time exists between the date when an individual accepts an offer of employment and the date when they actually start work. Companies need to keep the lines of communication open with that individual during that time. They must provide a steady stream of communication, in different forms and from different people.
2. Create Executive Leadership Interactions
Giving new hires, even young people joining the company, an opportunity to hear directly from senior leaders can be a powerful retention tool. People want to know the big picture, and they would like to know that senior leaders are interested in providing development opportunities for them. Everyone, from the front lines to senior executives, wants to understand how they can contribute to the accomplishment of the organization's broad vision and goals.
3. Prioritize team-based on-boarding opportunities
Newman argues that it is crucial to make "employees feel productive as quickly as possible." Therefore, he recommends quick action to provide "team-specific opportunities that engage recruits in their areas of specialization while testing and expanding their knowledge about the company." Companies don't want to focus only on the HR nuts and bolts (benefits, policies, etc.). They also don't want to only focus on generic skills applicable to all employees. They need to get specific early, so that people understand the skills htey need to be successful in their particular job, and so that they begin to form relationships with key experienced employees who can serve as mentors. Newman provides a good example: "For example, sales recruits might spend a week or more cultivating their sales pitches and testing them in simulated client meetings. Over the course of the week, recruits can present to sales managers or learn how to improve their performance based on actual case studies."
I would add one other thought here. Firms need to provide a series of early "check-ins" to insure that a new hire's on-boarding process is on track. Some check-ins should be with the person's direct supervisor. However, other check-ins might be useful with an HR representative, a peer in their work group, and perhaps a mentor at some higher level in the organization. These check-ins should be vehicles for two-way communication. The individual should receive some early constructive feedback and advice, while also being provided an opportunity to offer input on how to make their on-boarding process proceed more smoothly.