Skip to main content

Talent Retention Starts on Day 1

During one of the tightest labor markets in history where companies are fighting hard to get talent in the door, one of the biggest concerns is how to keep those precious new hires. 

A holistic approach to onboarding will drive retention by making sure that the first true impression you make with your new employee is one where they feel welcome, supported and set up for success. As easy as this sounds, companies too often miss the mark. Right Management’s Accelerate Onboarding approach ensures that five key elements are addressed, some even before Day 1, to make a new employee’s experience seamless. 

Get the mechanics right 

Sometimes the simplest things are hardest to do. Between HR, IT and facilities, making sure that a new employee has the right hardware, software, configurations, access rights, key cards, office equipment, business cards and everything else that they need is the first signal to an employee that their employer has their act together. While many organizations have strong processes for this, there are often dropped balls or individual needs that create complexity. Having a single owner who understands the role and business needs can make sure everything is ready on or near Day 1. 

Understand the business 

Whether an individual is starting in a new company or a new role within the same company, they can benefit from clarity regarding business context. What are the market dynamics? Where does the company play in the market? How is it differentiated from its competitors? What key competencies are required to win? What are our strategic goals? How does my business area or function play into achieving those goals?  

A manager should be able to clearly convey these market dynamics to a new employee in the first couple of weeks. Don’t just rely on corporate training or another function – hearing your manager tell you in their own words how they see the world and where your function fits into the bigger picture will help a new hire to calibrate future interactions with colleagues and customers. 

Clarify the role 

Especially in today’s labor market, candidates are talking to many potential employers and interviewing extensively before landing and accepting the job. There might also be a time lag between accepting a role and the start date. Managers can’t rely on the recruiting process for new hires to understand what they are expected to do.  

In the first week, managers should walk through key responsibilities, accountabilities and metrics. A new hire should be able to articulate what success looks like and begin to take ownership of achieving it. This should then be reinforced with regular touchpoints to clarify roles and assumptions as new information and perspectives from stakeholders are revealed.  

Building a personal network 

Collaboration in the workplace has never been more critical for individual success. Yet how often do we truly help a new hire navigate the organization, much less design a networking plan?  

One of the most nerve-wracking moments for a new hire is when they need to introduce themselves for the first time. Even the most natural extrovert will be worried about their first impression. A manager can put those concerns to rest with a personal branding session early in a new hire’s journey to help them with their introduction and language for their professional profile.  

Furthermore, managers should lay out a list of people the new hire should meet, detailing how they might work with each other and what topics should be covered in the first conversation. Then, sequence those meetings by priority in the first 2-4 weeks on the job. 

Understanding self – with respect to team culture 

Even the most optimistic hiring decisions may prove to be mistakes if the individual and culture of the organization don’t mesh. The good news is that we can be intentional in how we invest in making it work.  

Begin with an assessment during the final stages of interviewing to make sure that the candidate is the right fit to the role. Then make sure that the assessment and associated debrief triangulates against the individual’s personality traits, role requirements and organizational culture. As the new hire settles into the job, make sure to check in with them frequently with coaching on how to interpret behaviors, and adjust individual approach and style to adapt to team culture. 

New hires are excited to be starting a new chapter in their lives. But they are also apprehensive about the challenge and meeting new people, while hoping that they made the right decision. By ensuring those first days and weeks are full of affirming experiences that make them feel supported and set up for success, they will be ready to face whatever business challenges come their way with tenacity and confidence. 

Right Management has been helping organizations evaluate, develop, mobilize and transition their talent for over 40 years. We can help you with onboarding and beyond.  

Read more about the Great Realization and how Right Management can help you. 

About the Author

John Sinclair is Vice President of Product Management in the Career Management practice, focused on exploring new segments, launching new products, and stewarding the success of our portfolio in executive transition, outplacement, and workforce career management in new and emerging markets. John is recognized as a thought-leader and partner with colleagues and clients across regional boundaries, sharing intellectual property and best practices to build Right Management’s brand as the Global Career Experts within ManpowerGroup.

Profile Photo of John F. Sinclair