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Sink or Swim?

View from kayak over water

A strong Onboarding Process will make for smooth sailing…

Getting off to a rocky start can make the difference between rough seas or smooth sailing…

Recently, I was getting ready to do something for the first time…kayaking. I love water! Being near water, whether a small stream or an ocean, always relaxes me and tensions melt away. And I’ve been in many kinds of boats in the past…row boats, paddle boats, pontoons, ferries…but the thought of kayaking or canoeing has always been a bit intimidating for me. The fear of losing balance or tipping over and ending up in the water, along with the fear of embarrassment and not looking like I knew what I was doing, were real. But, I have a friend who has experience and when the opportunity to go kayaking at a local lake came up, I felt it was a chance to get over myself and expand my skill set.

The same week that I was looking forward to the kayak adventure, Healthcare Hospitality Network’s virtual conference finished up with a session focused on recruitment, retention, and other human resource issues. We added the session specifically because members shared their struggles in those areas and they were looking for solutions. It is an extremely challenging time to fill vacant positions and retaining seasoned and new employees is no easy feat during this long, drawn-out pandemic.

When does retention start?

During the session, we were asked the question of when retention starts. Is it after the probationary period? After the first year? When they are hired? The truth is, retention starts from the first interaction, through the interview, into the onboarding process and beyond. It needs to be an intentional and ongoing process.

Having a strong onboarding process in place is critical to retention. Sobering onboarding statistics in a post by Lauren Pope show that an organization with a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%, a Gallup survey found that only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their employer does a great job of onboarding new team members. That’s a significant gap!

Onboarding is like curb appeal…that first impression you only have one chance to make and it’s important to get it right. The 2020 Retention Report by Work Institute provides sobering statistics…over one-third (37.9%) of employees left their jobs within the first year. And two-thirds of those leaving the first year make their exit during the first six months! A true “failure to launch” that is expensive with little to no return on investment.

Onboarding and retention…what’s the relationship?

This is a critical time to look at your onboarding process and evaluate its effectiveness in engaging, motivating, and welcoming your new team members. Providing a framework, such as an onboarding checklist, for the first few weeks and months can provide a directed and comprehensive introduction to areas like compliance, roles and responsibilities, organizational culture, and connection for both in-office and virtual work environments.

An article by Randi Renee Doerr in Human Resources Today outlines the components an outstanding process should include: 1) Growing trust by sharing compliance and reporting information; 2) Providing clarity of their role and responsibilities with the tools they need; 3) An understanding of the company’s history, mission, values and culture; 4) Opportunities to connect with and develop positive relationships with co-workers. Giving different team members a role in the onboarding checklist is a great way for new hires to be introduced to the team and start the ripples of connection and engagement.

Check-in to prevent a check-out…

What a successful launch looks like…Retention gets off to a good start with the right onboarding process and tools.

So you’ve got a rocking Onboarding Checklist and processes in place. What more could a new hire ask for? Check-Ins! Periodic and intentional check-ins with your new team members during the first year are a critical component to onboarding. Check-ins can help address questions or concerns early on, increase trust and engagement, and reduce turnover. This is a simple step that can get lost in the shuffle of the workweek, so creating a schedule for check-ins and making them non-negotiable is important to follow through.

I had a great first experience with kayaking and will definitely by making this a regular part of my outdoor fun in the future. The stress and uncomfortable feeling of a starting something new was eased with good communication, instructions and directions provided by engaged staff, the right tools and equipment, frequent check-ins and encouragement, and being surrounded by people that were invested in my success.

Are you an association looking to make a move to an Association Management Company? Nonprofit Resources, LLC is standing by and ready to provide a successful and smooth onboarding experience with a comprehensive transition checklist and a team that is at the ready. E-mail info@nonprofitresources.us for more information about our full and partial-service solutions.


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