Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the American economy added 263,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate ended at a more than 50-year low of 3.5%. And even though tech companies have laid off an historic number of workers this year, they’re also hiring many back.

Outside of the tech industry, many companies are seeking qualified professionals to build a future-ready workforce that can propel the business toward growth and success. However, companies across industries are feeling the effects of a tight labor market, leading them to realize the value of their people. For many companies, the cost of having to replace employees isn’t worth it. As a result, employee retention has become a top-of-mind priority for learning and development (L&D) leaders and the strategies they deploy.

One of the biggest ways to retain employees is with a solid onboarding program — which means many learning professionals will need to streamline and improve their onboarding processes. The tight labor market can catch some employers off guard, but companies that take the proper steps to train and engage their new hires from day one will be better positioned to succeed.

Here are three steps to creating an impactful onboarding strategy that supports employee retention:

  1. Have strategic, thorough onboarding plans in place. Designate an onboarding liaison, onboard in groups and excite new employees about how their role can impact the business.
  1. Prioritize positive company culture. When new employees feel seen, supported and encouraged in a new environment, they’re can be more apt to staying with the company long term.
  1. Understand the nuances of a distributed workforce. Many businesses are now operating on hybrid and/or remote work models, which may be new to some employees. Educate leadership on how to listen and address concerns that could hinder productivity and create cohesive solutions for new hires that are adjusting to remote or hybrid work.

Let’s review a couple of best practices for managing a strategic onboarding experience that can increase new hires likelihood of staying with the company long-term.

Creating Touchpoints for Sharing New Information

In remote workplaces, workers can be challenged with feeling disconnected and disengaged from their organization. One solution is onboarding new hires in groups to help make the experience more engaging and efficient. Another great way to foster connection in remote and hybrid workplaces is for learning leaders to create designated touchpoints with their new hires.

For example, managers can schedule regular check-ins with new hires to share and review new information and training content, such as a directory of how to contact subject matter experts (SMEs) and thought leaders in the company, company mission, vision and values, policies and regulations, learning checklists and job aids, for example. This information can also be housed and shared afterward via online tools, like a shared cloud, for easy access.

Sharing a lot of new information at once can cause new hires to feel overwhelmed, so that’s why it’s important to create specific touchpoints to help make the learning more digestible. This also can give new employees the opportunity to voice any feedback or ask any questions that come to mind in the moment.

Having the Right Tech and Tools in Place

In reality, proper equipment and a strong internet connection is what connects the remote worker to their team and the organization. Ensure new employees have the appropriate technology to work effectively prior to day one — whether this constitutes for double-checking that they received a company laptop or phone, or just setting up the necessary accounts and passwords ahead of time. Arranging a meeting with an information technology (IT) can also be helpful.

Beyond setting up technology, introducing digital tools early in onboarding can help workers stay connected to their teams. Team connectivity can greatly impact employee motivation and their sense of belonging. Tools such as, Slack, Kudoboard and Zoom are just a few examples of tech tools designed to foster team collaboration and connectivity.

An online learning library is also a great and accessible way to share training content to new hires. According to Training Industry, Inc., online learning libraries can be internally curated and created by L&D professionals themselves, accessed by learners on an external site, or a combination of the two. Housing learning in an online repository can make training easily accessible to learners as they continue to learn the ropes.

Looking Ahead

Onboarding is an essential key to improving employee retention and coming out ahead in today’s tight labor market. A streamlined onboarding experience can create an opportunity for a company to put its best foot forward and create a positive employee experience rooted in learning and growth.

Deploying a structured and strategic onboarding process is more important than ever, as companies look to retain top talent in a tight labor market. Use the tips outlined in this article to begin creating a more effective onboarding strategy in your organization and drive retention as a result.