Retention Issues? A Stale Onboarding Program Could Be Your Worst Enemy

90% of employees decide whether they’ll stay at an organization or leave in their first six months. Click Boarding 2018 Report

The problem with an inconsistent onboarding process

“If you try to please all, you please none.” - Aesop

One of the major flaws in our New Employee Orientation (NEO) setup was the attempt to be accommodating to everyone. In an effort to be flexible with our various departments and roles we would adjust our schedule for almost every session. 

Unfortunately, this created a huge mess. We had overlapping, overcomplicated training schedules. And, try as we might, crucial pieces of information were missed as a result. Once the new employees left NEO and transitioned into their departments, their experiences were all over the board.  

I can remember one specific situation that left a part time employee without the tools to successfully complete her training for almost a year. Because of the lack of proper training, she wasn’t able to successfully complete even some of the most basic functions of her role and therefore ultimately left the company. 

Curious about the impact turnover has on your organization’s bottom line? This turnover calculator could shock you!



Effective orientation is more than a “nice gesture”—it’s crucial

It’s no secret that having well trained, engaged employees creates a positive impact on the organization.  

And a well thought out orientation program can positively affect your organization in countless ways: 

  • Reduced turnover 
  • Decreased training time overall
  • Increased productivity and engagement
  • And, ultimately, increased loyalty. 

It all sounds lovely—but how do you get there?


Rolling up our sleeves

After countless hours, the efforts of the NEO Revisions Team were put to use in developing new presentations, content and a whole new structure. We took a tired program and completely rebuilt it from the ground up—and with much success.

What we did differently:

  • Increased timeframe to 3 days for all employees (10 full days for front line)
  • Added an in-depth look at our Core Purpose and Values with real world examples 
  • Incorporated hands on experiences for all front line team members
  • Updated our follow up program which includes an additional full day training session after 30 days of employment
  • Built-in a meet and greet with the executive team

It’s not a one and done approach—real change takes time and it’s ever evolving

We consistently send anonymous surveys at regular intervals throughout the process to continue evolving our program for the better.  

  • At the wrap-up of Day 3 we send the first survey
  • After the wrap up of Day 10, the front line team gets another survey
  • Once they transition into their departments, we send two more surveys (before and after NEO follow up)

From these surveys, we gain valuable insight on not only their NEO experience, but also their transition into their departments, as well as our follow up NEO program. 

But we don’t just send surveys and call it good. The new employees also have a feedback session with the executive team after their first month with us and of course, we include lunch! Since the trainers and their managers are not in attendance during the feedback session, the new employees feel comfortable sharing what they liked and potentially any areas they saw for improvement.

Monthly, the Talent Management team meets to chat about the feedback we’ve received and brainstorm ways to tweak the program here and there—we realize it’s not a “one size fits all” approach—and that’s okay.  

How do you measure success?

Part of how we know our programs are working is the feedback we receive. Employees are happy, they are successful at their jobs and they aren’t afraid to tell others about their experience—in fact, they’re shouting from the mountaintops! 

When an employee refers a friend or family member to apply to work with us, we keep track. Since we’ve implemented these NEO changes, we’ve seen a 29% increase in those referrals compared to the same timeframe last year. 

We aligned our Core Values with recruitment and our onboarding process and the vision is that by implementing these changes, we’ll find a retention solution and increase our NPS (member experience) ratings, too. As we continue this NEO plan, we are looking forward to reporting more continued success directly related to this positive, hands on experience.

Lorna Adams