It’s time to reboot your re-recruiting

How to remind employees of their value and avoid high attrition rates.

young graduate keen to impress at her first interview

With a tight labor market and low unemployment levels nationwide, many companies continue to struggle with finding talent. Even worse for these companies — especially those employing frontline workers in industries including manufacturing, retail and hospitality — a significant and costly percentage of new employees quit within the first year. According to a recent study conducted by BambooHR, nearly 1 in 5 employees quit in their first week, and 17% left after the first month.

All of this churn is bad for business. Recruiting and onboarding employees cost thousands of dollars per individual, not to mention the cost of replacing an employee who leaves. What’s more, high attrition rates wreak havoc on a business and cause disruption to customers and remaining employees. So how can companies reduce early attrition? One way is to invest in the concept of re-recruiting.

Beyond the HR-driven 30, 60 and 90-day check-ins to uncover challenges and ensure new employees remain committed, re-recruiting efforts aim to remind employees why they signed on for the role in the first place. While not a novel idea, re-recruiting has gained momentum as a strategic retention strategy following the Great Resignation.

The art and science of re-recruiting lies in understanding when and how to re-engage with new hires and longer-term employees. Distinct communications programming and support around the employee value proposition — focusing on why people work at the company and what makes it special — can provide foundational support.

Based on our work with more than two dozen global companies, several best practices have emerged to help combat this issue. The following are strategies we’ve seen move the needle:

  • Orientation and onboarding. The information provided to the employee and their experiences during onboarding must be consistent with what they hear during the recruiting stage. Inconsistency or misalignment can result in frustration and second-guessing. Close collaboration between the talent recruitment, HR and communications teams helps avoid confusion and resentment as the employee transitions from recruit to team member.
  • An employee’s first failure. How a manager handles an employee’s first hiccup can make or break the relationship, and build or erode trust between the manager and employee. Assessing blame, second-guessing or making an example of the employee in public should always be avoided. Instead, follow the gold standard of communicating with empathy and clarity.
  • Executive meet-and-greets. These are most successful when they are scheduled within the first 90 days of a new hire, in either group or one-on-one settings. These meetings make employees feel heard and show how leadership owns the organization’s vision and values. It also enables them to ask questions about the future and current state of the business and to better understand their role within it.
  • Anonymous employee surveys. We suggest conducting these twice a year, and at least once within a new employee’s first four months. This will help detect early warning signs that an employee is unhappy or reconsidering their decision to join. It can also provide insight into changing priorities, and generate suggestions for improving their role, function or unit.
  • HR and Communications partnership. Throughout the re-recruiting process, HR and Communications must closely coordinate to eliminate gaps or duplication in communicating and engaging with new employees. Proactively sharing data between both functions and working from a master plan and calendar are common ways to form a solid working relationship between the two functions and deliver an optimal experience for the employee.
  • Know and trust the numbers. HR and Comms should also consistently review retention data to determine at what stages employees are most vulnerable to leaving the organization and why, and then launch a proactive strategy two to three months in advance of this benchmark to remind them of why they joined the company, and to promote various initiatives that will encourage them to stay.
  • Power of peer mentoring. Building a peer mentoring system provides new employees with a support system and a safe harbor to share concerns and tackle challenges they are hesitant to raise with their managers. Mentorship programs work best when they grow organically while being supported and encouraged by leadership.

Ted Birkhahn is the co-founder and president of Hot Paper Lantern.

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