A graphic of a man in a suit holding a briefcase standing at the edge of a cliff against a dark blue background, symbolising a hiring cliff.
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The hiring cliff: How employers can retain their new talent

13 Sep 2021

The ‘great resignation’ will mean hiring managers need to ensure their onboarding programme is designed properly to avoid losing new talent.

A side effect of the pandemic has been a phenomenon dubbed ‘the great resignation’, whereby millions of US workers are resigning from their jobs in droves after re-evaluating their choice of job, role and career as a whole.

Many have said that the great resignation will inevitably lead to a major spike in hiring in order to fill all the jobs vacated by those who resigned.

Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky dubbed this trend the ‘great reshuffle’. But whatever the name, there is no denying the sudden changes the global workforce is going through.

While the great resignation may be answered by HR managers with the great rehiring, there is another challenge to watch out for – the hiring cliff.

With swarms of workers moving jobs over the coming months, a significant number of new starters that will need training and onboarding. And with the ongoing shift to remote and hybrid working, the traditional onboarding approach is likely to need a complete overhaul.

Brent Pearson, founder and CEO of employee onboarding platform Enboarder, said it has never been more important for companies to get onboarding right.

“The new hire cliff stems from the traditional onboarding of new employees. In this traditional approach, organisations treat onboarding as an event that takes place only during a new hire’s first day or week and fail to extend the process beyond completing paperwork and providing basic instruction about an employee’s new role,” he said.

‘It’s important for managers to be able to identify the signs of an employee who may feel they’re slipping through the cracks’

“This prevents employees from being integrated into the workplace and leaves managers without the support to build a relationship with their new hire and ensure onboarding is a good experience. Once support starts to fall off for an employee after receiving initial training and paperwork, they’ve reached the ‘new hire cliff’. Employers need to make a conscious effort to help new hires cross the bridge between onboarding and becoming a fully integrated member of the team.”

Onboarding is one of the most important elements of employee retention. In 2018, Bamboo HR surveyed more than 1,000 US workers and found that 31pc of people have left a job within the first six months, with almost 70pc of those leaving within three months. More 2018 data from SilkRoad Technology and CareerBuilder found that nearly one in 10 employees have left a company because of a poor onboarding experience.

Pearson added that the growth of remote work may also increase the chances of new hires getting left behind during this critical onboarding stage.

“Human connection is a key ingredient to any successful onboarding programme, and one that needs to be proactively facilitated during all stages of the employee life cycle – especially in a distributed workforce.”

He said in the current environment, there are still ways to ensure new hires receive that human connection through videos, new hire buddies and lunch and coffee catch-up calls in the first few weeks.

“However, managers need support to deliver a consistent onboarding experience across the board.”

Pearson outlined four areas that employers should focus on when it comes to creating an effective onboarding process.

Firstly, employees should be engaged by being told the ‘why’ behind each action. Every part of the process should then be made as easy as possible, from automated meeting reminders to scheduled colleague introductions. ​​He said timely nudges about necessary information can prove to be far more effective than a large handbook of information all at once. And finally, managers and team members should set reminders to check in with new hires regularly, to ensure they’re not isolated and that relationships with colleagues are built.

“Overcoming the new hire cliff starts with employers taking a more active role in facilitating a process that is easy and enjoyable for all stakeholders to take part in. Rather than overwhelming new employees and their managers with a list of tasks to complete right away, onboarding should be viewed as a journey that takes place before, during and after a new hire’s first day,” he said.

“It’s important for managers to be able to identify the signs of an employee who may feel they’re slipping through the cracks and adjust the process accordingly to account for individual differences in the onboarding experience.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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