Smart Work

5 Ways to Smoothly Onboard Young Employees and Retain Them

Posted 17 December 2018 | BY Sansan

With 56% of employers in Singapore reporting difficulty in attracting employees, companies have to work hard to get and retain talented hires.

Moreover, one in three fresh graduates quit their jobs in less than a year. This high turnover rate costs companies a lot of time and money.

So what can companies do to ensure that first-time employees are productive, happy, and willing to stay?

Here are five ways to work with young hires so they won’t be hopping off to the next job.

1. Create a Great First Impression with Your Onboarding Process

First impressions matter; a good first impression makes an employee feel more committed to the organization and its culture.

It is common to introduce a new employee to team members and get them to read compliance policies on their first day. However, most of this can be taken care of even before the employee shows up at work. A week or two before their joining date, HR managers can email the recruit all the necessary materials (compliance and insurance policies, security protocols, server login information, etc.) so they have time to go through them at their own pace.

When they actually show up at the office, the majority of the onboarding efforts are directed at making them feel welcome and lessening first-time jitters.

One way to do this is to set aside a small budget. In the first week, have different groups of colleagues take the new hire out for lunch. Workers in Singapore usually don’t bring their own lunch, so this lets the fresher immediately make new friends in the office and familiarize themselves with the nearby lunch spots.

Buddy systems work great as well.

Sarah Lilley, HR business partner for Australia at IPF Digital, suggests an alternative: “Assign a buddy that they feel comfortable approaching with questions.” This could be their lunch partner, whom they’re likely to have built a rapport with.

If this isn’t possible, always leave an open line of communication for a quick instant message or chat with the HR manager, or another well-informed staff member. A connected and cared for employee is usually a happy employee.

2. Allow Employees to Work Remotely

Home office

Singapore professionals indicated work-life balance as the top priority in a recent survey by Robert Half. This may be because many of them spend nearly 1.5 hours on public transport every day, in addition to their already long working hours.

So whether it’s to save time spent in transit or flexibility to allow time for personal occasions, employees appreciate the option to work remotely.

Managers are typically concerned that working from home might lead to a drop in productivity, but clear policies can do away with this concern.

“Anyone [at our company] who works from home on a regular basis is required to sign a 'Work from Home' agreement,”Lilley says. “This states that the employee agrees to use a proper desk and monitor in a quiet area where they may work uninterrupted, and has a strong internet connection. They're required to provide photos of their home setup, which are attached to the agreement.”

Companies must also do their part by providing the right tools for remote productivity. This could be a cloud-based contact management system that makes it easy to access customer information from anywhere, or security solutions such as a VPN, that ensures a risky Wi-Fi connection doesn’t threaten the company’s data.

3. Implement a Mentorship Program

Most established workplaces today have a mix of young employees and those who have been with the organization for years.

The ideals and working styles of both groups can be quite distinct. Having a mentorship program for new employees will help them see things from a different perspective and become more accepting of other (older) employees’ views.

It’s a good investment, Lilley says: “Being a mentor and a mentee requires hard work and effort. When you have people who genuinely enjoy helping others realize their goals, however, the results can be amazing.”

Mentees can get insightful career advice and the opportunity to learn soft skills like leadership. For mentors, it’s a chance to share their wisdom.

Given their potential impact on the new employee, mentors should be carefully selected. They should have been with the company long enough to understand its values and operational style. They must also possess strong communication skills to be able to share their knowledge with the mentee.

4. Instill the Company’s Mission and Values in the New Employee

A company’s mission provides clarity of purpose to employees, and makes the company more trustworthy in the customers’ eyes. This has been found to directly impact profits.

However, for employees to abide by the company’s mission, they must be aware of it and understand its true meaning. An hour-long lecture on the subject is unlikely to achieve this, but there are other ways to do this.

For example, American multinational, 3M, has pledged to improve every life. In line with this mission, the company runs a youth volunteering program. A company representative quoted in a mentorship survey said: “This volunteering is part of what we can do to enhance,improve and advance things here and around theworld.” This in turn helps young people to achieve.

3M noted that employees who got involved in these efforts were also more engaged and happier at work.

This is consistent with findings that employees prefer working with companies that have strong values. Knowing that they are valued and are working towards a common goal builds their respect and admiration for the company.

5. Show Employees That You Care

Employees want to know that the company cares about them. Demonstrating care can strongly tie with employee retention. Three good ways to do this are to:

Recognize a job well done

While constructive criticism is part of the job, a little recognition of a job well done can be a huge morale booster for a fresh recruit. This can range from a few words of appreciation from a team leader to an Employee of the Month award. The award needn’t be expensive; a movie voucher or even the employee’s name on a Wall of Fame has value. Such encouragement, when consistently provided, fosters an atmosphere of positivity and keeps thoughts of quitting at bay.

Provide learning opportunities

Learning opportunities

Employees starting their careers usually have limited industry knowledge. Professional learning programs can be useful here. From the Singapore government's innovative Skills Future program, to private, industry-specific institutes, there are many options available.

Even if you can’t provide official learning programs immediately, incorporate an informal learning approach. For instance, organize a workshop session on Fridays where employees with unique skill sets like public presentation skills or Google Analytics knowledge can lead. This is a great approach not only for new recruits, but also for anyone looking to broaden their knowledge. It’s also a terrific experience for the person leading the workshop.

With an agenda, some snacks, and a few quizzes at the end, this can become an "unofficially official" teaching module.

Make leadership accessible

Young employees want to be able to communicate openly, so companies must encourage constant two-way dialogues between employees and management.

“People need to feel included at work," Lilley says. “Being part of an office where you can talk as much to the country manager as to the legal counsel, is one of the keys to a great culture.”

Above all, create a space where employees feel respected, happy, and secure. People spend a good part of their day in the office. If it’s a place they are comfortable with, naturally, they’ll want to be there.

“When people hear someone having a good belly laugh over something,” Lilley says, “it’s infectious and there’s nothing better than a room full of people laughing!”

That’s the kind of place your new hires won’t want to leave.