As 2022 winds down, the US labor market remains tight, and competition for talented people is still fierce. In this market, employers must continually make the case that they are a better place to work than their competitors to keep their best new talent. The average cost of replacing an employee ranges from half to more than twice the employee’s annual salary. That doesn’t include the potential lost productivity or product failure that might result from an inability to maintain a cohesive team.
Some companies are discovering an under-discussed secret of retention—the 90-day rule. Employees who stay with a company for 90 days are more likely to remain employed for at least one year or more. While some companies are holding out the promise of bonuses and full benefits at the end of 90 days, the real value of that initial employment period goes much deeper. For organizations that focus on engagement and retention, 90 days can be the perfect amount of time to create long-term employees.
Here are four ways to drive employee retention through a 90-day period that sets you and your people up for success:
1. Don’t rely on “gimmicks.”
While there’s nothing wrong with creative incentives or benefits, it’s a mistake to rely on those to keep employees happy. If your organization doesn’t meet more significant employee expectations, such as work-life balance, meaningful work, or long-term career development, no amount of free snacks or wellness incentives will be enough to create long-term retention. The initial 90-day period should be an opportunity to showcase your value as an employer, not just a statistic that you can use to guarantee retention.
2. Create a robust onboarding process that includes in-person connection.
For many organizations, onboarding is either a very short period of orientation that includes filling out paperwork or is entirely non-existent. This lack of a clear onboarding process represents a missed opportunity to improve retention.
Your onboarding process should include all the moments that matter to your employees. Welcome them, introduce them, and ensure they have all the resources they need for success—do everything you can to make them a part of the team. Find time to discuss future development and goals. Create opportunities for in-person connection, including remote and hybrid employees. Even if you have to pay for some travel expenses, get those distant employees into the office to meet co-workers and colleagues in person.
3. Check-in with employees at specific points.Of course, managers and team leaders should have one-on-ones and team meetings, but HR should also conduct periodic check-ins with new employees. Use these opportunities to gather feedback on improving onboarding or orientation processes and ask employees if they are satisfied with their roles and have the necessary resources.
4. Highlight the future.
These periodic check-ins are a good time to discuss long-term goals. What do these new people want from their careers? Do they want to move up in the organization? Are they interested in other positions? Take an early interest in employee development to help people feel the company cares about them and wants to invest in their futures. Employees are more likely to stay with companies that invest in their long-term development.
Companies don’t need to remain stuck in a high-turnover cycle. With focus and intention during the first 90 days, your organization can create an employee experience that not only drives retention but also creates alums who will champion your organization to other talented people.
- Do we have an onboarding process that lasts more than one week and includes more than orientation activities?
- What is one onboarding activity we could add to our process?
- What is one way we could improve existing onboarding activities?