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As one of the most underrated elements of the employee lifecycle, onboarding might be the missing link between hiring and retention. Onboarding gets relatively little attention from many companies but can have arguably one of the biggest impacts on employee retention. With 33 percent of new employees looking for other employment opportunities in the first six months at their jobs, it’s no secret that retention is a problem in the American workforce. By investing in quality onboarding, a company has the potential to improve employee retention across their entire employee base, as well as reduce overall hiring and training costs.

Onboarding Increases Engagement from the First Day

It’s common knowledge that first impressions matter, but a company’s first impression to new employees could either drastically reduce or increase hiring and onboarding costs. Make sure to have the new hire’s workstation, locker or supplies set up before they arrive on the first day. Throughout the first week or two, managers should also make themselves available for check-ins with new employees to make sure nothing is missing and that they understand their first assignments. The more employees feel as though their company cares about them, the earlier they are likely to engage.

On a similar note, a welcoming environment can help employees quickly adjust to new positions. Designate time for the new hire to get to know the team. This doesn’t have to be a big production. It could be as simple as inviting everyone to a meeting 15 minutes earlier than normal on their first day, or calling in lunch to the worksite so everyone can eat together. Create opportunities for strong relationships in the workplace and watch your retention rates improve.

Values Matter

Introduce company values to everyone during onboarding. In the sea of forms, benefits, policies and more, it can be nice to take a break to get to know the company. The company values should always be a part of benefits and policies, but taking a few minutes to have a conversation about them can help a new employee find common values and connect with the company on a deeper level. This deeper connection based on values will boost employee loyalty and make them want to stick around for the long term.

Having a conversation about values also gives the employee a broad sense of expected behavior. Obviously, quality work should be a priority for every construction company, but having a conversation about the way the company prioritizes integrity and customer relationships may alter the way employees behave at a worksite or in the office. This can stop some problems before they even start, saving the company considerable time and money.

Prioritize Learning for Engaged Employees

A culture of learning will also keep employees engaged and coming back each day because they will know their employer cares about their professional development. New hires should be able to start learning plans immediately. Bonus points if the company leverages technology to shorten the time from novice to master.

Many elements of an employee learning plan can be completed on a computer. Consider investing in a mobile-compatible learning management system so employees can complete their learning plans wherever they are, whether it’s during a thunderstorm at a worksite or at home on a sick day. Making learning accessible has a huge payoff when it comes to employee engagement.

Mentorship is a great option for employers looking for increased engagement, boosted performance and higher productivity levels. By pairing a new hire with a more experienced mentor, managers create a system of higher accountability and lower their risk of losing the knowledge base as more baby boomers continue to retire. Mentorship also fosters relationships among the team, which makes new hires and seasoned employees feel as though they belong at their jobs, making them much more likely to be loyal to the company.

Great Management Keeps Employees Coming Back

Ongoing, two-way feedback will keep employees engaged and promote high performance early on. Two-way feedback is essential because it turns criticism and encouragement into a constructive, productive conversation, rather than leaving employees feel as though they’re being talked at instead of talked to. This also works well because it sends the message that everyone at all levels of the company has room to grow. Make the whole company stronger by ensuring feedback comes from the bottom-up as well as the top-down. This doesn’t have to be a big overhaul of your communications process either. It can be as simple as a manager asking an employee, “I see you’re handling this project really well. Is there anything I can do to help you handle it even better?”

Employees join companies and leave managers. Involve managers early on in the onboarding process and make sure they understand the importance of building positive relationships with their teams. New hires are much more likely to stay with a company if they feel as though their managers care about them and appreciate the work they do. Set expectations for managers and the new hire together in the first days to see increased performance and engagement quickly.

Automate for Ease

New hires shouldn’t feel as though they’re overwhelmed with paperwork on their first day. Automate to make the most of the onboarding process. If employees are able to sign and return most of the paperwork before they show up on their first day, they can spend more time learning about the company and getting to know their team, which will be more likely to keep them coming back every day than the piles of forms they signed. By automating the less exciting parts of their first days and weeks, employees will feel like their time is valued.

Onboarding is more than a free t-shirt and lunch on the first day. When done effectively, onboarding will increase engagement and reduce overall hiring and recruiting costs for a company. Retention problems will decrease dramatically if employees feel they are valued team members from their first day forward. Consider investing in a robust onboarding plan to increase employee engagement and improve your bottom line.

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