Keeping Employees Starts Here

Dec 13, 2018, Written by Sue Miley


There is nothing worse than getting a text from a client stating that one of their team has resigned.  Why does that bother me?  Because I know the chaos that is about to ensue:

  • How long until they leave?
  • Does anyone else know their job?
  • Is it a position that is hard to hire?
  • How long until a new employee is actually doing the whole job?

And the cost.  To run ads today in the Indeed auction world you have to put up the dollars to get your ad seen.  Then we hope and pray that we get qualified candidates.  But we know now that it doesn’t really matter how much experience a candidate has if they do not fit the culture of the company.  Yes, it is important that they fit in.

And the time.  Then I start praying that the situation isn’t dire because when a company rushes to fill a hole, the chance of making a mistake increases exponentially. 

How To Keep Your Employees

So this post isn’t about the cost of turnover or the way to hire the best people.  It is about how to keep them.  A recent article I read said that according to SHRM’s recent human capital bench-marketing report, the average annual organizational turnover rate in the U.S. in 2016 was 18%.  Although I don’t have statistics, I know that losing almost 20% of your work force every year for any company is painful.  If you have 1000 employees, losing 200 would be daunting.  But for a small business, the number may be 2 out of ten, but in this case, they are probably the only two who know how to do their job.  In small businesses, we don’t always have multiple people in any one position.

So what do we do?

As a small business we will always have the risk that an employee wants more growth opportunity.  And if we are growing as planned, the growth opportunities for our employees will hopefully be there on time.  That is if we do the rest right.

Although there is much to employee retention, the first step is to start right!

Employee onboarding could be the most important phase of an employee’s tenure with the company and may also predict the longevity of a team member.

What is Employee Onboarding?

Simply put, the employee onboarding is how they are brought in to the company.  With small businesses many times it is trial by fire.  We have a hole, we fill it, and we move on to the next fire.  Leaving a new employee lost, lacking confidence, and unsure of what is expected of them.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter if the new employee is a clerk or a vice – president, we all want to have a seamless introduction to our new job and new company.

Here are a few important factors to an effective onboarding process:

  1. A written plan for the first week.  Having a plan on who they will meet with, train with, and/or shadow for the first week will make all of the difference.  Everything to new hire paperwork to someone showing them the copy machine and coffee maker are important.  So, I guess it isn’t just having a written plan, but also executing it.  Make sure those who are supposed to help onboard know their role and are enthusiastic and diligent participants.
  2. A clear job description and expectations.  As a consultant I go into companies all the time and ask people what their role is and what they are responsible for.  Usually I get a general “everything” statement.  Most do not have a formal job description or it is so dated that it doesn’t match what they do.
  3. A review of policies and processes.  Employees don’t start a job wanting to do things wrong.  But unfortunately, all new employees are not confident enough to ask a million questions.  Even small things like how to fill out an expense report to get reimbursed or if an expense can even be reimbursed.  Things like this are important.  For example, If an employee comes out of pocket for an expense and they don’t know or ask if it can be reimbursed, chances of them stepping out in an activity for the company over time will reduce.  And, even though it is totally okay for them to expense it, not knowing will create resentment towards the company.
  4. Help the new employee fit in.  Eating lunch on the first day for a new employee is uncomfortable.  Especially, if most people eat in.  Where do we eat?  When do we eat and who can we eat with?  These things start to worry the person way too early in the day.
  5. Training for their job.  This seems obvious, but in most cases when I ask about a training plan, there isn’t one.  And, not only is there not a training plan, but the owner is so busy, they may give the employee something to do that takes about 2 hours, and then when the employee finishes, the owner is gone….for the rest of the day.  They are working to keep things going.  That is why it is important to have a plan, even if that plan is to shadow someone else for a while.  Just knowing what to do with their time can make all of the difference in the world.

Starting Right Increases Performance and Engagement

It is very typical in smaller businesses to feel like it takes a new employee a long time to really be helpful.  If you think back to all of these instances, did you really onboard the new person?  When just these five things are focused on at the beginning of a new job the performance is multiple times better than without.  Not only for the employees benefit, but also for the team’s and the company’s.  The sooner the employee is trained, the sooner they can help.  The sooner the employee is trained right, the better the employee will be accepted and respected among his peers.

When an employee is doing things right, she gets positive feedback.  And guess what, this increases her engagement.  There is a domino effect at play.  Ultimately, you hire a person wanting it to be a long-term commitment for you both.  To make it last, start here.

Start with a strong on-boarding plan.

Do you have an onboarding process for your new employees?  If you would like help, call us to see how we can help you structure a program that can work for your company. 

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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