This article is also published on eLearningIndustry.com.
Every organization wants to avoid having its front door become a revolving door. We invest so much time, effort, and resources into recruiting, we want—and need—new hires to become engaged and productive as soon as possible.
To accomplish this, you might want to take a hard look at improving your new hire orientation program.
"New employees who attended a well-structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to remain at the company up to 3 years," according to a study by the SHRM Foundation. More specifically, organizations with a standard onboarding process enjoy a 50% greater new hire retention rate.
Meanwhile, engaging orientation experiences offer bottom-line benefits, too. An improved onboarding program at Texas Instruments enabled new hires to achieve full productivity 2 months faster than those in the previous program, according to a report titled "Successful Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Started Off Right."
Clearly, your new hire orientation—that first impression—is important. It can convert a new hire’s anxious energy into a positive force that allows them to contribute sooner and longer. But you have to connect quickly, engage immediately, and make sure each hire knows they matter.
The good news is, there are ways to make your new hire orientation more meaningful and resonant while achieving what the Society of Human Resource Management calls the 4 objectives of effective onboarding:
Compliance (rules, policies, paperwork)
Clarification (individual roles and responsibilities)
Culture (organizational norms)
Connection (fostering relationships)
Here are 7 techniques to increase employee retention and engagement through a new hire orientation program:
1. Give Your Orientation A Theme
Today’s new hires want a sense of shared experience and a sense of belonging. It’s vital that the orientation experience be as consistent as possible from location to location—even for remote employees. Themes give your training a consistent look and feel while uniting all participants with a common experience.
2. Leave No Hire Behind
Today’s remote employees want to feel as connected and valued as those attending in person. You can achieve this by supplementing in-person activities with engaging or interactive asynchronous activities. Create opportunities where remote employees can video conference into the event to make them feel like they’re part of it or connect them one-on-one with another new hire or speaker.
3. Establish Individual Value
Today’s new employees want to know why they’re important to your organization. Rather than having new hires do standard introductions or uncomfortable ice-breaker games, find collaborative activities that give employees the opportunity to highlight their skills and strengths, while showcasing the qualities they’ll be adding to your company.
4. Use Video Content
Today’s new hires want as much information as they can get, as quickly as they can get it. So, don’t bore them into stupors by spieling on and on about your company’s culture and history and what makes it stand out from the competition. Turn to videos instead. They allow you to craft your message, and showcase your culture, in a more captivating way that lasts.
5. Create Personal Connections
Today’s new hires want a sense of community. Encourage it by involving employee mentors. Mentors provide low-pressure access to the "inside scoop" for everything from, "Where can I get a pen?" to "Where is the cafeteria?" to "What does this acronym mean?". Better yet, a mentorship program tells new employees that you care about your people in general and about them in particular. You can also employ bonding exercises. Try splitting the class into smaller groups and have them do scavenger hunts with the content that’s going to be covered for the day. Or create pairs, have them get to know each other, then have them introduce each other to the group, centering introductions around the orientation’s theme.
6. Involve Senior Leadership
Today’s new hires not only want to feel as if they matter to leadership, but that leadership is accessible, too. Having participation from C-Level personnel creates connections to leadership, allows visibility and transparency to the highest levels, and sends a clear message that leadership has an interest in all employees. To ease the burden on any individual, rotate involvement among several leaders. And make sure senior leadership is represented in the video, just in case no one is available to attend a given orientation.
7. Clear A Path For Success
Today’s new hires probably have a good idea of what it is your company does day-to-day. However, they may not know what specific strategies are in place to drive business growth. Educate new hires on the company’s business strategies. Focus on how their unique role and skills will help the company achieve those goals. Making this connection provides new hires with clear objectives and expectations from day one.
New hire orientation is an opportunity to put the company’s best face forward in an exciting way that energizes new hires. More importantly, it is the first step toward engaging—and retaining— new employees and improving your bottom line.
Related work: See how we helped AAA revamp its employee onboarding program.