In today’s business environment, turnover has become a daunting issue for many organizations. Turnover comes with a tremendous financial cost that affects both a company’s bottom line and overall productivity. Replacing just one employee can cost anywhere from 90% to 200% of their annual salary. In hopes of avoiding this financial hiccup, many organizations are searching for ways to avoid these unwanted costs, but no amount of budget cuts will be able to solve it.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4CP) states that organizations should create an emotional connection with their employees early in the hiring process so they can see higher levels of engagement and retention in their company. Focusing not only on skills training but on building a personal connection with new hires can significantly impact how they adjust to their new role, enabling them to reach efficiency much faster.

An effective onboarding process begins with building a sense of connectivity and inclusiveness with new employees so that they feel a sense of belonging. After all, employees that feel as if they belong are more likely to stay long term.

Let’s examine these best practices on how to utilize engagement strategies during onboarding to increase retention.

Use Onboarding as a Strategic Driver

Within the last two years, The Great Resignation has shifted employees’ mindsets and priorities. With educational benefits and work from home options on the rise, workers are more aware of what they want from their next job. For learning leaders, The Great Resignation can pose as a “great reset” as they scramble to develop better engagement plans to win over their existing talent pool.  With talent professionals struggling in this war for talent, it is critical to put your best foot forward with all new hires.

When it comes to making a good impression, there isn’t much room for error: 33% of workers quit their job within the first 90 days they are employed. The key in reducing this percentage is to implement onboarding as a strategic driver for retention. Onboarding should not only focus on skills development and training, but also on acclimating the new hire to the company culture and team. Building a personal connection is essential to retaining your workforce. Hiring practices should demonstrate equity and inclusive practices and should aim to enable new employees to feel comfortable in their role.

Even after a candidate accepts a job offer, they can still be recruited by another company before their first day. Organizations need to stay a step ahead of the competition and focus on introducing new employees to the company culture by building a personal connection from the time an offer is made, into preboarding and continuing into onboarding.

By promoting equity and inclusivity from the moment a candidate accepts the job offer, organizations can create a personal relationship with new talent early on and reduce the likeliness of turnover.

Increase Employees’ Intent To Stay

Along with establishing a personal connection, onboarding should aim to guide new hires as they learn more about their role and how it fits into the company. From day one, new hires should recognize the significance of their role and the impact they can make. When employees are aware of how their new role can impact the company’s success, it can increase their sense of belonging, thus increasing their chances to stay long term.

An employee’s “intent to stay” describes their willingness and desire to continue working at your organization. Research indicates that employees with a high intent to stay put forth much more discretionary effort in their work. This means that employees are more likely to go above and beyond the bare minimum when they feel connected to their role.

According to a study by IBM, employees with a more positive experience at work are much more likely to report significantly higher levels of discretionary effort. These positive experiences begin with helping new talent become adjusted and confident in their role. Once an employee feels well adjusted, they are more likely to stay engaged in their role.

Invest in Their Future

Many factors can influence an employee’s intent to stay. This is why it is so critical to be aware of modern job seekers’ expectations and what they want in their new role. According to Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), 60% to 70% of all employee turnover is voluntary. This means that with the right focus, most turnover can be avoided. Understanding the influences that factor into a new employee’s decision to stay is crucial.

Many modern-day job seekers are on the hunt for professional development opportunities. Professional development should begin during onboarding and should ensure that new employees embrace continuous learning and growth as a part of the company culture. Learning and development (L&D) can help build engagement and promote continuous upskilling.

During onboarding, leaders should use their new hires’ passions and career goals as a strategy to demonstrate the organization’s investment in their professional development. Employers should encourage skills development and upward mobility to keep new employees excited for the future.

By supporting the development of your people from the moment they’re hired and harnessing their skills and career goals throughout the employee life cycle, you’re more likely to retain them for the long-haul.

Register for the Spring Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) to hear Dr. Wendi Walker-Schmidt’s session, “Onboarding Effects on Employee Engagement and Retention.”