Using Stay Interviews to Enhance Onboarding

 

There is an abundance of research clogging the interwebs on the subject of onboarding; a credible whitepaper that I often reference is the Definitive Guide to Onboarding from Bamboo HR. In the report, the author includes a terrific stat from Aberdeen Research (another fantastic resource):

As many as 87% of new employees are not fully committed to a new job for the first six months.

Dang.

This tells us that the vast majority of new employees may still be considering other options when they begin working at your company. They are still wondering if they made the right decision. They are still wondering if their skills, personality and expertise will be a “cultural fit” with your team.

And that’s unsettling.

Studies have proven that attracting, recruiting, hiring and onboarding a new employee is a pricey endeavor. REPLACING that new employee only adds to the hefty price tag, as well as reducing productivity with existing employees, lowering team morale from added workload and stress, preventing sales and other key business metrics.

Onboarding is a key opportunity for Talent and HR leaders to drive tangible business results in an organization. With effort, reducing preventable (regrettable!) turnover is certainly an attainable metric.

What if organizations, particularly hiring managers, had a decoder…a way to “check the pulse” of a new employee’s engagement and satisfaction during his/her first 30-120 days on the job?

It may not look like the decoder ring you found in your Fruity Pebbles box when you were a kid, but there is a decoder. It’s called a “stay interview.”

In case you’re not familiar with the concept, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines a “stay interview” as a conversation “conducted to help managers understand why employees stay and what might cause them to leave. In an effective stay interview, managers ask standard, structured questions in a casual and conversational manner.”

A stay interview is:

  • An informal discussion to encourage engagement and retention
  • A chance to discover strengths, growth and development opportunities
  • A strategy to prevent regrettable turnover
  • built on trust

A stay interview is NOT:

  • A job interview
  • A disciplinary conversation or corrective action plan
  • A performance review or replacement for one

It’s no secret that the hiring manager is the linchpin for success for a newly-hired employee, and building that relationship on a foundation of trust is crucial. Conducting regular stay interviews during the onboarding period (and beyond) is an effective way to establish trust, capture feedback, check the new employee’s pulse and ensure his/her needs are being met in those fragile early weeks and months.

We don’t know what we don’t know.

If managers spend time focusing on why a new employee is excited, engaged and energized, they will inevitably have an easier time KEEPING them excited over the long haul. As with anything, we don’t know what we don’t know. And waiting for that exit interview feedback is too late – when a talented employee becomes frustrated enough to seek greener pastures in a different job, or possibly return to a previous organization – they’re already out the door; feedback isn’t going to help you then!

Consider enabling your managers to incorporate questions like these into 1:1 meetings and coaching sessions with new employees:

  • What are you hoping I will deliver as your manager that others have failed to deliver in the past?
  • What makes you jump out of bed each morning since you’ve started your new job?
  • What makes you hit the snooze button?
  • How has your onboarding experience here compared with past experiences?
  • When did 5 hours feel like 5 minutes – what types of work do you enjoy most in your role?
  • What passions, skills or talents are being underutilized in your new role?
  • How can I support your learning during these first few months?
  • What areas of our department/organization do you want to learn more about?
  • When have you felt overwhelmed in your new role? How can I support you?

And yes, you should absolutely encourage managers to utilize stay interviews far beyond the onboarding period. This can be an effective method to maintain trust between managers and their direct reports, and a helpful tool during development discussions, coaching sessions and to break regular 1:1 meetings out of a rut.

Bottom line: STAY interviews can help prevent EXIT interviews!

Your turn: Do you use stay interviews as a talent retention strategy? If so, how have you enabled managers? What success have you measured? Share a comment below!

 


Big news from phase(two)learning!

Looking for a resource to enable managers? I’m very excited to announce my first book, Talent GPS: A Manager’s Guide to Navigating the Employee Development Journey, will be available in May 2017! Co-authored with Lou Russell and Brittney Helt, this straightforward, practical resource is a perfect tool to help both new and experienced managers take ownership of their employees’ development through every stage of employment.

Join the list to be in the know about launch info, webinars & special offers!

 


 

Did you miss these oldies but goodies?

Check out these “greatest hits” from the blog!

When Does Onboarding Become Too Much of a Good Thing?

3 Steps to Developing a Killer Onboarding Program

Onboarding Table Stakes for Hiring Managers

 

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When does onboarding become too much of a good thing?

paris-love-locks
Ah, c’est l’amour.

For several years, countless tourists in love made a pilgrimage to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris to pledge their undying devotion by attaching a padlock, a “love lock,” to the metal grating on the bridge.

So. Many. Locks. 

The love lock tradition has spread to a number of other cities around the world. Like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City:
love-locks-brooklyn-bridge
I saw the Brooklyn Bridge locks last summer when I was in New York with the family. Even enterprising street vendors were trying to capitalize on bridge-crossers in loooove by selling padlocks along the bridge. It’s definitely a thing.

The idea of love locks has brought mixed reactions among Parisian tourists and locals. Some saw it as a romantic gesture, an homage to everlasting love….others, including preservationists and city officials, saw it as a cluttered mess, ruining an otherwise historic landmark. Last year, an estimated one million locks were cut from the Pont des Arts bridge, thus ending the Love Locks tradition.

What started out as good intentions – a sweet gesture – quickly spun out of control.

If we’re not careful, the same thing can happen with our onboarding programs. We invest time, energy and resources into creating a memorable experience for our newly-hired employees – but without proper management, even a great “idea” can go awry.

Be aware of these red flags…does your onboarding program:

  • Focus on training, rather than on performance?  Spending too much time “teaching to the test,” or mastering hypothetical, simulated content, instead of preparation for real-world experience can be risky. Ensure that your content is aligned to the true working environment, and that there are ample opportunities for application and assessment.
  • Have too much show, but not enough substance?  We want our Orientation and onboarding experiences to be pleasant. We want our new employees to enjoy themselves and have them walk away feeling they made the right decision in joining our organizations. Free lunch! Scavenger hunt! More swag! All good things. Just ensure that the fun elements have purpose. 
  • Set unrealistic expectations of how amazing your organization is? Onboarding is a process that bridges the gap between the sometimes-idyllic first impressions set during the recruitment and pre-boarding process and the reality of everyday life in the company. If your new employees are pinching themselves because things are just too perfect, beware. Showcase your organization’s strengths, but keep it realistic.
  • Encourage long-term reliance on a training facilitator, rather than a supervisor, peers and resources?  In cases where “new employee training” lasts several days or even weeks, training participants often look up to their primary training instructor and view him/her as an expert. While that may be true, it is important for the primary focus to shift away from the training environment and move toward the job environment. Make an effort to enable new employees to utilize self-directed learning resources, leverage peer coaching, participate in on-the-job training and (most importantly) build a solid relationship with his/her direct supervisor.

Having a hand in the new employee experience is a privilege. Creating an experience that balances learning, engagement, immersion, relationship building and yes, fun, requires thoughtful planning and ongoing attention. Just like the locks prevented visitors from experiencing the beauty of the bridge, don’t let your organization’s heavy “locks” outweigh the value your program adds.

Your turn: What are you doing to make that experience a memorable one in your organization? Share your tips in the comments below!

Pinterest for Onboarding: Part One

pinterest_for_onboarding

Ah, Pinterest.  The (addicting!) social media darling. This site has opened my eyes to everything from new recipes, to travel inspiration, to shoes and handbags (swoon!) and home decor ideas…and about 1001 other things.  I even post links to this blog and other things that inspire me on a Pinterest board.  Such fun!

Pinterest is still relatively young, only being launched in 2010. In fact, I am still given a confused look by some people when I mention it.  The site has been widely embraced by women (a whopping 80% of its users are female, according to recent studies), but major brands are finding ways to leverage its simple visual model to generate leads, engage customers, and share content.  I came across this great article with some really interesting information on how marketers are using Pinterest.  Since we, too, are marketers within our organizations, this got me thinking….

What about us?  Is Pinterest something that we can adopt and make part of our onboarding programs?  Our Learning & Development programs?

I think yes.

So, this afternoon, as I watched my beloved hometown Indianapolis Colts end their season by losing to the Baltimore Ravens (pout), I sat down with my favorite pen and brainstorming notebook, and came up with a few possible ways to use Pinterest to share links and educate prospective employees, engage new employees and connect with current employees. We’re going to be jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon over the next couple of posts – are you ready?!

To get started, here are a few ideas:

Board #1: Recruiting Team Resources

Your recruiting team can share their expertise on this board…everything from current job postings to articles on acing a job interview or networking best practices. Include links to everything a candidate would need to know to feel at ease for an interview with your organization.

Board #2: We Give Back (Social/Corporate Responsibility)

Does your company have a foundation?  Do you support a charitable organization?  Maybe you have an annual canned food drive.  Maybe your company adopts families during the holidays.  Maybe you’ve built houses with Habitat for Humanity.  Well, put it out there!  Post links to the organizations.  Post photos of employees in action, doing good in your community.  Not only does this give your company some “good press”, but it also gives incumbents a glimpse into what your organization stands for.  If the company lives by its Core Values, as many companies do, this is a great way to introduce candidates (not to mention prospects and customers) to those values and show them in action.

Board #3: A Day in the Life

What better way to let potential employees see what life is like in your organization, than to give them a visual tour?  Upload photos of employees working, playing, collaborating, talking and laughing.  If your company prides itself on its dynamic, youthful, or even quirky culture, this is a great way to showcase it.  From casual dress codes to video game tourneys to Happy Hour gatherings, document them all and pin ’em.  Incoming employees can peruse the photos, learn about the culture, and get EXCITED to start their new job!

The key here?  Be real. Not staged.

Board #4: Wellness Initiatives

Wellness is certainly en vogue these days.  Many talented people are seeking employers who encourage and contribute to healthy living; if this is your organization, it’s a great selling point for prospective employees.  Show  it off!  Post information and photos of your onsite fitness center, healthy snacks, running groups, and other noteworthy features your company has to offer.  As incumbents begin to imagine how they will fit in your organization and culture, they can also think about fitting that Tuesday morning onsite yoga class into their new schedules!

Board #5: Our Place in the Industry

A Pinterest board is a fantastic place to upload recorded webinars, podcasts and videos to give incumbents a one-stop shop for learning about your organization’s contribution to your industry.  You can also include links to notable blogs, key individuals in your organization/industry to follow on Twitter, and other resources to educate a new employee.

The span of time between accepting a job offer and the incumbent’s first day is when his engagement level is naturally very high.  He is trying to absorb as much information as possible to learn about his new organization, team and role.  Many times, the incumbent will go on a vague scavenger hunt, scouting out the company website and random LinkedIn profiles to find out nuggets of information. Pinterest can make this very simple for your new employee.  In a visually appealing way, you are presenting information about your industry, processes, and culture in a way that allows incumbents to explore on his own terms, at his own pace.  And yes, you can even make sure there is nothing proprietary out there, if that’s a concern.

The thing to keep in mind as you develop an onboarding program is that when you bring a new employee on board, you are not just adding a “worker” to the team; you are welcoming a whole person, who has needs that go beyond the bullet points that make up his job description.

Make it easy.  Make it engaging.  Make it count.

I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve on this topic…enough that one post was just not enough…so we’re going to dig deeper next time!  Until then, take a look at this example of a company that is using Pinterest, and doing it well.  I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased, as I used to work for this company and have a soft place in my heart for the people and culture!  I’m proud to be an alum of this fantastic company, so enjoy the peek into their very Orange world (you’ll see what I mean when you check out their board!).

Your turn: Are you a Pinterest user?  For personal or professional use? Have you thought about using Pinterest for your onboarding or learning programs?  Tell me all about it!

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