Blog Post

    Retention starts at first sight: Balancing expectations and lived experiences

    In a competitive job market, attracting talent is merely the first step towards organizational success. Retaining these skilled employees is equally important. However, retention is not an ‘initiative’ that is undertaken once talent has joined the organization. Instead, retaining talent starts long before an individual even steps foot into the organization. 

    This article dives deeper into the topic of retention and illustrates that retention truly begins at first sight, enabled by an integrated and holistic employee experience. 

    A (renewed) focus on Employee Experience

    Many organizations recognize and emphasize the importance of employee experience - in fact 63% of organizations are prioritizing this within their people strategy. The reason why EX is receiving renewed focus is simple. Where EX is not a priority, organizations see the symptoms in low engagement and productivity rates, high intention to leave, negative employer brand perceptions and increased turnover rates.

    However, as much as EX is recognized as important, making EX practical and impactful can pose a challenge. A great place to start is where a good experience has an almost immediate positive impact. As many as 64% of applicants would not even consider applying for a job where the organization does not have a compelling employer brand. Therefore, getting it right at the onset of the employee lifecycle is critical. 

    Setting expectations upfront

    Recruitment serves as the initial encounter between an organization and a prospective employee, setting the stage for the relationship that follows. This is where every employee experience starts. Applicants hold perceptions of the organization, which are shaped through the employer brand, employee testimonials and their own encounters with the organization during the recruitment process.

    These perceptions shape expectations and every experience that an employee has with the organization is measured against these. This is especially true during the first 12 months of employment, also known as the honeymoon phase.

    From first impressions to lasting connections

    Once an employee joins the organization, their onboarding experience sets the tone for the lasting connection that is formed with the organization. Organizations who get this experience right, see a significant impact on employee retention, with 69% of employees more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. However, many organizations grapple with challenges during the first 12 months of an employee's tenure.

    While onboarding is recognized as an important activity, the onboarding experience often fails to deliver impact because of three common pitfalls:

    1.    The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) makes empty promises

    The EVP is used to outline what is offered by the organization to attract talent to the organization. However, without being able to deliver on the promises made in the EVP, it simply remains a marketing tool. The focus of the EVP should be to provide a realistic view of what the organization offers, where it differentiates itself and should be reflected in the people practices that shape the EX.  

    2.    The onboarding is process and administration driven

    For most HR professionals (and line managers), the onboarding process is synonymous with administration, checklists and activity focused. Whilst these things are important, little attention is paid to how employees experience these activities and processes, their participation in the process and the connection it creates to the organization.

    3.    There are multiple role players and disjointed processes

    Apart from the labor intensive nature of onboarding, multiple processes and role players shape the onboarding experience. This requires seamless and frictionless handover points that deliver an integrated experience without compromising on efficiency. This balance between experience and efficiency is difficult to manage in process and technology.

    What do we need to do differently?

    Bridging the gap between expectations and experience requires a critical review of the recruitment and onboarding processes and how it is enabled. Here are 5 levers that you can use to shift the dial:

    1.    Back up what the EVP promises with what people practices can deliver

    Rather than a multitude of promises, focus on 3-5 things that can be delivered on and are appealing to your target talent audience. If it is offered as a compelling promise, there should be a practice, process and experience that can deliver to this expectation.

    2.    Define one EX strategy and integrate the recruitment and onboarding practices

    The EX is more than the sum of its parts. Start by defining the desired EX and then consider how the recruitment and onboarding practices will enable this, instead of viewing EX as an outcome of these. This requires an outside-in view, with the end-user in mind. Just as the organization invests in acquiring and onboarding its clients, employees should be seen as consumers of people practices who have a choice to opt in or out based on their experience with the organization.

    3.    Consider the processes, systems and technology that enables the desired EX

    The EX will either happen organically or it can be shaped intentionally. Use processes, systems and technology as enablers of the EX. These should either create efficiencies, automate processes, measure the experience or integrate multiple touchpoints to deliver the experience.

    4.    Enable the role players that shape the EX

    During recruitment and onboarding, multiple role players shape the experience. Ensure that technology and processes help and enable all role players to deliver the desired experience. Using technology to facilitate frictionless handover points, prompt actions and track progress can have a significant impact on this.

    5.    Measure the effectiveness and impact of the EX

    Beyond operational reporting, gather real time experience feedback through technology in the moments that matter to identify pain points and iterate processes. Also consider showcasing the impact of EX by presenting an integrated view of engagement, retention and turnover data.


    The takeaway 

    Delivering experiences that match and exceed the expectations of employees are critical to retention. This requires an integrated approach to recruitment and onboarding, acknowledging the most important enablers of the integrated experience. Technology has a critical role to play in not only creating efficiencies, but also removing frictions and delivering a seamless experience for employees. Organizations who are able to bridge the gap between expectations and experience will have a competitive advantage in not only attracting but retaining talent.



    Topics: Featured , Recruitment
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