How to stop employees leaving in their first few months

It’s reported that up to a third of new employees leave their job in the first 90 days. What can your company do to improve employee retention during the critical 90-day period?

How to stop employees leaving in their first few months

It’s reported that up to a third of new employees leave their job in the first 90 days. This has a significant impact on the profitability and productivity of many businesses. So what can your company do to improve employee retention during the critical 90-day period?

This article focuses on five proven employee retention strategies.

  • Paint a realistic picture
  • Make them feel welcome
  • Build connections
  • Define success
  • Celebrate achievements

Below you’ll find examples of how to implement these strategies at various stages across a three-month period, beginning with the selection process.

During the selection process

During the interview and selection process, providing a realistic picture of what’s to follow can help prevent the three most common reasons new employees leave within the first three months. These reasons are:

Reason 1 – The job isn’t what I expected

Vague or inaccurate job descriptions, or enthusiastically over-selling a role, can lead to new employees feeling like they’ve been conned. If the reality of a role doesn’t match the way it was described, it’s probably not something the new employee ever wanted to do. They’ll feel disappointed, let down and quite justified in immediately looking for a new job.

Reason 2 – A bad experience completely turned me off

This often has something to do with a manager’s personality or leadership style. Allowing time in the selection process for shortlisted applicants to get to know the reporting manager can help an applicant to decide if the job is a good fit. You might lose a promising applicant, but it’s much better for that to happen now than a couple of months down the track. If applicants withdraw, it’s a good idea to ask why, so you can identify areas for improvement.

Reason 3 – I don’t like the company’s culture

This often happens when the way an organisation’s culture is described is more about a vision than the current day-to-day reality. Typically, the interviewers can project the desired culture to external applicants, but the present-day culture may not match up. Giving shortlisted applicants a chance to tour the workplace and perhaps be introduced to others in a lunch area can help give them some idea of the reality. Again, it’s better to discover whether they feel comfortable before they accept the role, rather than later.

When the offer is accepted

With the appointment completed, it can be easy for everyone involved to feel like the job’s done and get back to focusing on other demands. But that can make the new employee feel like a commodity, not a highly-valued person. So here are some suggestions for reducing the chance of second thoughts. They’ll also help your new hire to immediately start sharing positive stories about your organisation.

Make them feel welcome

  • Set up a conference call with the new hire, the interviewers and senior managers to celebrate the appointment and let them know how pleased you are they’ve accepted.
  • Follow-up with a thoughtful gift sent to their home – ideally something that shows you’ve remembered their interests.
  • A few days before they’re due to start, send a ‘welcome to your first day’ message that builds their confidence and shows you care. This message can include things like where and when to arrive, transport tips, what to bring, the typical dress code, who will meet them, who to call if they have any questions and so on.

Build connections

  • Send your new hire links to information about your organisation’s mission, values, history, culture, community engagement, leadership team bios etc.
  • Consider including an e-card from their immediate team with a fun group photo, names and even a short light-hearted bio from each person.

For their first day

Prepare and plan ahead, but be careful to not overload the new employee’s time. Asking them to arrive an hour or two after everyone else can help them feel less hurried on day one. It also gives their manager time to deal with the busy first hour of the day and retain quality time for the new arrival.

Make them feel welcome

  • Ensure everything is ready, from a security card and IT login to all the equipment they’ll need.
  • Prepare a printed schedule for their first week with training, meetings, tours and any social events. Send invitations for each so they can easily populate their online calendar.
  • Put together a welcome goodie bag of company-related merchandise or items from the organisations you sponsor.
  • Decorate their work area and include a welcome note or card from the team.
  • Have someone waiting to meet them as they arrive at your premises.

Build connections

  • Set up a buddy support network, perhaps rotating through different team members for each day of the first week, so they can get to know their peers more easily.
  • Ensure one of the first training sessions is about the communication software your organisation uses and how to book meeting rooms.
  • Pre-arrange one-on-one meetings over the first week with the main people the new hire will interact with in their role, including people in other departments or locations (via video call if necessary).
  • Provide information and contact details for the organisation’s interest groups and clubs. Allow time over the coming week for the new hire to meet with someone from any groups they’d like to know more about.

Define success

  • Meet with your new hire to explain and discuss the organisation’s high-level objectives or vision for the current year.
  • Share the specific results that the new hire’s department and immediate team have agreed to deliver and illustrate how these support the organisation’s core objectives.
  • Discuss the results the new hire might agree to deliver and come to a shared agreement on what their one-month, two-month and three-month results will be.
  • Identify any training the new hire would like, including in-house experiences or mentoring.

During a new employee’s first month

This is a crucial period. Good communication and opportunities for feedback will make it easier to identify and address any issues before they grow into thoughts of leaving.

Build connections

Give your new hire the confidence to bring their wider life into the workplace through everyday conversations, casual get-togethers and safe open questions like ‘what’s on for you this weekend’.

Define success

  • Help the new hire to develop a deeper understanding of how success relies on overlaps, dependencies and support opportunities between different teams and departments.
  • Work with them to identify and clear any obstacles others might be creating that threaten the delivery of agreed results.
  • Highlight individual and team progress towards delivering the agreed one-month and two-month results.
  • Maintain regular informal feedback sessions between the new hire and their people leader.

 Celebrate achievements

  • Monitor progress towards the agreed one-month, two-month and three-month results; celebrate steps completed towards achieving milestones; and identify areas where support or training may be needed to ensure ongoing success.
  • Highlight the new hire’s achievement of one-month results and encourage meaningful feedback from their peers and senior management.

During a new hire’s second and third month

Strategies for retaining the new employee now gradually change to those of a robust retention programme aimed at all employees.

Build connections

  • Around the end of the second month, reinforce the transition to being a valued employee by inviting the new hire to join others in helping to improve the organisation’s on-boarding experiences.

Define success

  • Continue highlighting individual and team progress towards delivering agreed results.
  • Continue with one-on-one feedback and progress review sessions (at more normal team member frequency) to identify any roadblocks early and provide guidance on how to overcome them.

Celebrate achievements

  • Celebrate the new hire’s delivery of their agreed two-month and three-month results; highlight how these have supported progress towards the team results and organisational objectives.

Check out an easy way to add a welcoming layer of benefits to your new employees’ remuneration.