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A Gallup global engagement study estimates that two- thirds of all employees do not feel actively engaged in the business they work in and as a result are open to receiving offers of employment from elsewhere. Not great news admittedly for employers. But not new news. On the plus side, it suggests employees are not always actively looking for other work, even if they remain open to offers. Even more worrying, however, are the recent findings of Indeed’s Talent Attraction study, where, 65% of employees admit to actively looking for a new job within 3 months of starting somewhere new. Just to reiterate: that means that two thirds of new starters are sitting at their desks contacting recruiters, applying for jobs and going to interviews. All on your clock!

Of course, the study doesn’t indicate what proportion of this 65% go on to actually leave within the first three months. Many may well be hedging their bets and still be being pursued by companies from a previous recruitment round. But it does mean that resting on your laurels once the ink is dried on the contract is not an option. It also shows that the traditional understanding of the probation period, where the company is trying the employee out, is no longer quite the case.

Why New Employees Leave

I didn’t do a survey nearly as robust as Indeed did. But a quick straw poll of colleagues, associates & casting back on my own experiences revealed some similar tales from the front line, which could be loosely grouped into the following categories:

  1. Not feeling welcomed – no manager there on first day, not being introduced to colleagues, people simply not offering any help at all
  2. Not having the right tools – no equipment there on day 1, no access to the right systems, not knowing who to speak to about parts of their job
  3. Not liking the other people – patronizing/ stupid/ uber-political colleagues tasked with buddy-ing but really spending time asserting their own authority
  4. Roles being mis-sold – “I was told that I would have a team of 4 to help me achieve what I was being tasked with. But on week one I found out I had no team, no budget and no likelihood of ever achieving what was expected…It was depressing to say the least”

Spot anything that could happen in your business?

Effective Onboarding Can Help Retain New Recruits

Whilst it’s never going to stop those who have a tendency to be fickle in their pursuit of employment, onboarding is definitely a step in the right direction for most. Onboarding (used interchangeably with the term ‘Induction’) is the process of socializing a new employee within a business for them to get the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours to be effective. Often in the past, these programs have been confined to health & safety briefings (which still fall under the boring-but-important category btw) or limited to a series of presentations about the workplace or a short demonstration of how your new job should be done. Given that it can takes weeks ( and sometimes months in the case of a highly specialized role) for someone to be firing on all cylinders, an hours on boarding doesn’t really seem to cut it in the learning department.

Most progressive companies are wise to the idea that onboarding starts way before the employee has even set foot in the building on their first day. Many build programmes which start from the recruitment stage to at least three months into the employee lifecycle to ensure that new starters are set up for success. AirBnB are trailblazers here. Their employee onboarding reflects the detail and care that their customers and hosts experience when they join. These holistic programmes are designed & implemented to make the employee feel welcomed, support them in the learning about the company and reinforce the company culture (a.k.a “how we do things round here”).

Implementing such a programme is not a cast iron guarantee that someone won’t walk out of the door. But if rolling out the red carpet to your newbies can save you £30,000* (the average cost of recruitment estimated by the Oxford Institute), isn’t it worth a go?

*Incorporates logistical costs including advertising, temporary worker replacement, management time to hire, recruitment costs not to mention the loss of output caused when an existing employee is training and when the new employee is learning.