As experts in construction and restaurant payroll, we know first-hand that some industries have higher turnover rates than others. The hospitality sector is a good example. Hospitality businesses tend to hire and terminate so quickly that entire staffs can be turned over in a matter of months. Having said that, we also know it does not have to be this way.
A 2015 study published by the Society for Human Resource Management suggested that 15% of workers who leave a new position within the first six months do so because they were not properly onboarded. Though there is no reason for us to doubt the conclusions of that report, we believe problems with high turnover in some sectors run far deeper than just the onboarding process. We would go so far as to say the first two weeks of new employment are critical to preventing turnover.
The Onboarding Process
It cannot be denied that the onboarding process does play a role in turnover. If you are not familiar with what this process is, think of onboarding as that series of tasks necessary to get an employee from the moment of hire to that first day of full time work following orientation. The process includes everything from filling out paperwork to taking a tour of the workplace.
The onboarding process is critical because it establishes the employee's first impressions of the organization. If the process is inefficient, complicated, and unnecessarily cumbersome, a new employee will start off with the impression that his or her employer doesn't have a handle on things. New workers can be disillusioned before they ever get to that first day of work.
The Importance of Training
While the onboarding process is very important, nothing is as critical within those first two weeks as employee training. We know this firsthand thanks to our experience with construction and restaurant payroll. When workers are thrown into the heat of the workplace battle with insufficient training, they are left to fend for themselves. This is not good.
New hires could be paired with experienced employees who can guide them and show them the ropes for at least a couple of weeks. Even in jobs requiring a college degree, nothing substitutes for real world experience on the job. It is a significant mistake for employers to expect new hires to jump right in without any help. In fact, not providing new employees with several weeks of adequate training is one of the easiest ways to encourage them to quit before barely getting their feet wet.
The Role of Achievement
Our experience with construction payroll has afforded us the opportunity to work with companies that measure achievement by the buildings they construct. We have observed how important individual achievement is to many of the workers who make up the payroll of those clients. That sense of achievement is critical to employee retention.
Humans are creatures with an innate desire to accomplish. An employee who feels like he or she is going to work every day without contributing anything is one who will quickly start questioning his/her ongoing employment. Employers can address this within the first two weeks by giving new hires clear, achievable goals for the next 6 to 12 months. Those goals should be regularly evaluated so that new goals can be introduced as past goals are reached.
As payroll and benefits experts, we can confirm that turnover is a big problem is some industries. But it does not have to be, if employers are willing to invest more heavily in the first two weeks of employment.