Guest blog by Lynne Hardman, CEO of Working Transitions
Official figures show that unemployment has reached an 11 year low – a fall of 52,000 to 1.6 million in the three months to November – the lowest level for more than a decade.
Typically, low unemployment rates result in less job-seekers – and more choice for those actively looking for a new role. As the talent pool is reduced, for an organisation looking to recruit, both attracting and, just as importantly, retaining the right talent to fill a role can become a huge challenge.
Recruiting is an expensive business – most employees have an idea of the average cost of a new hire, however this calculation often does not take into account the wider cost implications and impact on customer relationships or team effectiveness when a new employee takes a long time to perform effectively or – even worse – leaves before they even start to make a contribution. Most hiring managers have experienced making a key hire that just didn’t work out, at some point in their career, so perhaps this issue is more common than may be realised.
According to a CIPD survey, almost 80% of employers experience challenges in retaining staff. The most commonly used method of address is to improve the onboarding process. The report goes onto say “This method [onboarding] clearly targets the retention of new employees…it can be a low cost way of preventing new employees leaving within the first few months and is likely to have additional benefits in terms of early productivity”.
When a new employee joins there is much at stake – both for them as an individual and for the recruiting organisation. Starting a new role is an important time of personal transition. Usually, focus is heavily placed on practical support – system training, health and safety etc – but little regard is paid to the emotional support that may be required at this time.
During an employee’s early months, they may feel uncharacteristically vulnerable – they lack the trusted working relationships that they are used to and could feel overwhelmed as they juggle getting to grips with the new organisation, along with the pressures of their new role. Often too, a new joiner is reluctant to express their concerns as they fear damaging their early credibility with their boss. Particularly in the case of individuals whose new role is a ‘step up’ or outside of their comfort zone, ‘throwing in the towel’ may feel like an easier option than struggling to integrate themselves into a new environment. With the average cost of recruiting estimated at around £30k per hire this can be a costly and time consuming experience for an organisation.
It is also important to remember that new joiners will have a past – regardless of whether they joined your organisation as part of a progressive career move or as part of a forced transition, there can often be complex underlying issues that are undisclosed. Many interviewers do not have the skills or experience to probe effectively for evidence of difficult workplace related issues such as harassment, bullying, resentment or long term negative effects on confidence as a result of previous experiences. Of course most candidates work hard not to disclose such issues and the recruitment process is frequently focused on “selling” their positive attributes – but psychological issues can run deep and their re-surfacing during the early stages of a new role can have a real impact on future performance. Offering tailored transition support during the onboarding process can help individuals come to terms with the past and ensure that they are energised, engaged and focused on delivering the results for which they have been hired..
Although more common in the US, in the UK only the most forward thinking organisations provide this as standard and yet a well-structured onboarding support programme delivers tangible ROI. It helps new hires transition effectively and begin to add value rapidly, enables full understanding and integration into the organisations culture and sets a strong foundation for the development and retention of a productive workforce.