Onboarding and retention should be viewed as one collective discipline, and it be stated as concisely as follows: Successful onboarding and retention of employees require honesty, transparency and a high degree of dedication in the relationship.

Experience is everything

Despite all the buzz around digitalisation and AI, the employees remain the most important asset for any company. And these employees make increasingly high demands of their work life. We still spend most of our waking hours at our job, which very much defines our identity. It is therefore important to us that we find a meaning with our work, that we thrive, and that we get something out of going to work other than what is listed in the employee handbook or on our payslip.

It is almost impossible to read a professional article or book without encountering the word experience. And it is basically all about the experience today. The approach remains the same whether or not your focus is on the customer experience or the employee experience.

Today, employees expect to have developing, productive, engaging and fun experiences at work. Many companies therefore offer an integrated portfolio of employee experiences to be able to offer their employees the best experiences throughout their work life. In our own company, we strive to offer services which are able to support the employee’s work day in the fluid form between work and free time. A positive and productive employee experience is the new psychological contract between the employer and the employee, and an understanding of and continuous improvement of the employee experience is therefore critical for attracting and retaining talents in a job market characterised by strong competition for the skilled and highly educated employees.

Take responsibility for the good work life

For this reason, onboarding and retaining employees should be anchored throughout the entire company. All managers at all levels of the organisation are responsible for thinking in terms of onboarding and retention. As middle manager, you are equally as much responsible for retaining your employees as the HR department, and you can make a difference by entering into an active dialogue with HR on how the company can best support your employees in achieving a satisfactory work life. You have the closest relationship to your employees, and you know their needs.

Paint an honest picture of your company

Onboarding begins right at the job interview

The employee journey and the employee’s experience begins as early as during the first job interview.

It is actually a bit similar to online dating. If you receive a picture of a highly attractive potential partner, who writes that he/she likes vegetarian food and running marathons, the chances of a successful first date are pretty slim not to speak of the chances of a second date if it turns out that the person looks nothing like his or her profile picture, prefers fast food from McDonalds and prefers not to move longer distances than between the television and the fridge. The best policy will always be honesty, so make sure to be clear and honest about the kind of candidate profile you are looking for and not least the type of workplace you are able to offer the candidate. What kind of work day can one expect at your company?

Put a face to the company

And honesty goes far beyond the work tasks. Most prospective employees like to have a feel for the workplace itself, which is why it can be a good idea to let potential colleagues, i.e. peers, participate in the job interview. This helps put a face to the future workplace.

Also consider where the job interview takes place if your company uses external recruitment agencies. It is important to make sure that not the entire recruitment process takes place with the external agency, but that the process also includes the possibility for the employee to be interviewed at the company and to meet potential new colleagues relatively early in the process to give a better impression of the company. The higher degree of transparency in what a workday looks like for an employee in your company, the higher the chance to find a good match between employee and employer.

Our own company is highly driven by our shared values, which is why the right personality will always outweigh the right CV in a recruitment process. This is also why we always prioritise the personal meeting where the candidate gets the chance to meet both colleagues and managers, and why we also prioritise personality and cognitive assessments. We have caused several headhunters some frustration because we are so picky when it comes to the personal values. If the job candidate’s fundamental values do not match the company values, the rest does not matter, and you can be certain that the employee would never become an integrated and value-adding part of your company anyway.

You therefore have a responsibility to help brief the recruitment agency on your company values and to be clear on what difference your values make in your everyday work. At the end of the day, this will also help increase your chances of finding the right candidate.

From successful onboarding to successful retention

If you have made the right recruitment, the first step of retention is done. However, a number of fundamental elements such as development, meaningful tasks, attention and godo management are important to make sure that you are able to offer your employees. And these elements supersede personal preferences and priorities.

And remember to ask your employees. Regular dialogue, appraisal interviews and annual employee satisfaction surveys, which are subsequently taken into consideration and are reviewed, are indispensable tools for any company working on employee retention. If these elements are in place, the prerequisites for the next step in retention is in the bag.

The final step in keeping your promise and retaining your employees is very much about involving and committing your employees in the company.

In our company, all employees are for example invited to a LinkedIn workshop where they receive training and support in achieving a top-tuned, personal LinkedIn profile and receive advice on how to use LinkedIn as a communication tool. Experience shows that an employee who shows commitment to the workplace on social media and not least his or her personal profile will often have a higher degree of employee satisfaction and will be retained for longer. The employee also enters some form of psychological contract with the employer by stating the affiliation on LinkedIn. Personal branding is an important part of employee development today, and the company is also able to indirectly achieve a stronger corporate brand through the strong personal branding of the employees. So make sure to support your employees’ psychological contract with your company.

Some good advice

The above can basically be summed up in the following advice if you want to ensure a successful onboarding process and a high level of employee retention:

  • Onboarding and retention is not only an HR task. Enter into a close dialogue with HR to help ensure that your workplace is able to support your employees in achieving the best possible work life
  • Give your job candidate a realistic view of what it is like to work in your company and what your company culture is like. Transparency and honesty remain the best policy
  • Keep a holistic perspective on employee retention and in your service offerings to cover needs for a work-life balance

Our advice can basically be summed as follows: honesty is the best policy. Also at work.

Originally, the article was published in the magazine “Ledelse i udvikling” under the name “Man skal holde, hvad man lover!”.