Stop Employee Turnover in the First 90 Days

Reduce Turnover

“The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.”

~ Ayn Rand ~

Client Trisha Asks:  “Attrition is costing my company a fortune. We seem to have a particular problem keeping our new hires from jumping ship. Turnover in the first 90 days is the main area of concern. As the HR manager, it’s my responsibility to solve this problem before any more damage is done. Any suggestions?”

Coach Joel Answers:  You’re absolutely right about the high cost of turnover. The Saratoga Institute says that losing a single employee can cost you 50% of his or her annual compensation. The numbers are even higher when you get into the executive ranks. So let’s talk about three steps you can start taking right away to turn your situation around.

• Plan for success
• Get on board
• Follow through

1. Plan for success. Your employee retention efforts need to start long before the first resumé hits your inbox. There are a number of reasons for the early turnover syndrome. By setting up a structure to avoid these stumbling blocks, you are creating an environment for success.

Employees most often leave because of a flaw in the recruiting and orientation process. On your end of things, you need to make sure the position and the company’s expectations are thoroughly explained during the hiring process. You need to screen and test carefully to be sure that both the employee’s skills and personality are right for the job. For example, if the employee is an introvert, you should not hire him for a front desk or customer service position, no matter how well he sells himself during the interview. Intensive background checks with former employers and other references may uncover poor work history or truth-stretching on the resumé.

2. Get on board. The first few days and weeks are critical to cement the relationship. Keep the schedule full with not much downtime, but it doesn’t need to be all work. Plan to take your new employee to lunch. Let her get acquainted with her co-workers and start to feel comfortable. Stay close and be available, but don’t smother. The first month or so should be fairly structured. You want to do a lot of training, but you also want to get her started working on projects. She’s probably on an emotional high about her new position, so take advantage of all that enthusiasm and let her show what she can do. Set up training and project goals for the first 90 days.

Don’t waste a lot of time getting bogged down in logistics during the first week or so. Take care of details in advance—have business cards already printed, the computer set up, phone working, ID badge ready. Make sure existing staff members know she’s arriving and are ready to make her feel at home.

3. Follow through. As the HR manager, you should have a clear structure, in writing, set up with the new employee’s manager for how to handle communication during the critical 90-day onboarding process. Start by debriefing the new employee at the end of the first day. How did things go? Any questions? What’s missing?

At the end of the first week, spend an hour or so with the whole team or department. Make it casual and semi-social with drinks, pizza, cake or whatever fits your company protocol. Let everyone have a chance to ask questions and encourage the new employee to talk about what went well and what could be changed or improved.

At 15 and 30 days, schedule a one-on-one with the new employee. Review goals that were set in the first week, chart progress, and make any mid-course corrections that are needed. Continue this process at 45, 60 and 90 days. Although formal appointments are on the calendar, make sure the employee understands that any job-critical questions or issues need to be raised immediately and that you’re always available for that purpose. Be sure you have a mentorship program set up to support the employee through the onboarding process.

Good employee retention doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and plenty of personal attention. But it’s worth it, because you’ll see your investment drop straight to the bottom line.

Are you experiencing a turnover problem? Joel has some ideas that can help you resolve this issue. Contact him today.

Talkback: Do you have a recruiting or retention idea that’s working for you? Share your experience here.

Image courtesy of Doc Rabe Media /

Please Don’t Go!
Creating an Employee Retention Plan that Works

“The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.”

~ Walter Gilbey ~

Client Marshall Asks:  Everything I’m reading in today’s news tells me that employees are staying put right now but as the economy rebounds, a lot of people are going to go looking for new job opportunities. I don’t want to lose my best people. How can I keep them from jumping ship?

Joel Answers:  You’re right to be concerned, Marshall, and smart to be planning ahead. In recent Wall Street Journal survey, 53% of HR professionals agree that turnover among top executives and managers will begin to rise this year.

The first thing you need to know is—it’s not just about the money. Compensation is important to people, of course. But keeping good employees involves important intangibles such as a safe, pleasant work environment, recognition for accomplishment, and family-friendly work schedules and benefits. Here are three employee retention strategies you could begin to implement in the short term that will entice your employees to stick around for the long term.

• Establish a formal recognition program
• Create work-life balance
• Provide development opportunities

1. Establish a formal recognition program. Linking pay to performance is an obvious first step, of course. And reward people for the company’s success as well as their own. You can do this in a number of ways. In addition to bonuses, I’d suggest things like extra time off, gift certificates for movies and dinners out, or a gym membership. And here’s a secret to making your recognition program even better—let the employees design it themselves. People support best what they help create, and if employees have the opportunity to say what makes them feel valued and appreciated, you’ll have a win-win.

2. Create work-life balance. You can do this first by making work a fun place to be. If employees dread Mondays and rejoice on Fridays, they are not having a good time at work. Establish or celebrate company traditions, such as a family-invited summer picnic or a Halloween costume contest. Put together teams of employees to volunteer for community events such as American Cancer Society’s Walk for the Cure or Relay for Life. Implement a schedule that includes core working hours with flexible starting and ending times. (Yes, your daughter’s dance recital is a major event.)

3. Provide development opportunities. Most employees want to be challenged and want to feel that they are on track to move up in the organization. You could start by giving your best people an opportunity to train others, to share best practices with subordinates and new hires. Also, provide a menu of training opportunities that might include anything from offsite seminars to tuition reimbursement and executive coaching. Give each employee an annual “growth allowance” and let them design their own personal development program.

Whether the economy is good or bad, employees want to utilize their talents and they want to grow. They will be most satisfied with and committed to your company if you have an employee retention plan that makes them believe you are equally committed to their success.

What’s your employee retention strategy? If you don’t have one, or if you do but you’d like to kick it up a notch, contact Joel for some personal recommendations.

Talkback: Have you used a retention strategy that worked? Share your best practices here.