Mind the gap

Laurie Padua
Head of Technology and Operations Consulting
Alexander Mann Solutions
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It is now widely accepted that both candidate and employee engagement strategies must be on-point if organisations are to attract and retain the brightest talent. However there is a gap where communications seem to be falling short – the period between acceptance and start date.

However this ‘no man’s land’ between a candidate saying ‘yes’ and them arriving on their first day of work is fraught with risk. During this time, they may begin to question whether they’ve made the right decision, use their newly boosted confidence to seek out alternative opportunities or consider a counter offer presented by their existing employer. And HR leaders can’t afford to take their foot of the gas when it comes to engagement during this crucial transition period.

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Even talent acquisition heads who are ahead of the curve in terms of candidate engagement at attraction and assessment stages often admit that onboarding is where they need to concentrate resources moving forward. But what’s the secret to success?

Research from Aberdeen Group found although less than a third of companies (32%) have a formal onboarding process in place, best-in-class companies are 35% more likely to begin these processes before day one. Even then, the systems used often focus on ticking boxes around process and policies rather than the emotional element of taking a leap into a new role. However, new tools coming onto the market are designed to make candidates feel welcome and inspired. The days of saying, “here’s an offer letter – see you in three months’ time” are coming to an end.

We need to focus on engagement and communicating with new employees to nurture the EVPs which are so carefully constructed during recruitment, keeping them feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ to bridge the gap between recruitment and employment. Regular, personalised contact is important. New recruits may, for example, receive a letter from the CEO 30 days before their start date, a link to a video about their department two weeks later or a hamper containing the company’s signature products the week before they step into their new role. HR strategists should aim to expand the candidate journey using the same tactics and messages offered during the earlier stages of the recruitment process. Communications shouldn’t drop off the cliff post-offer.

Once new employees are in situ, the same level of attention should be given to getting them up to speed, to become productive and feel secure in their new post. When you consider the resources that are pumped into identifying and securing talent, it’s crucial that you don’t leave them to flounder during this crucial stage. 

It typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity yet, according to recent statistics outlined in Harvard Business Review, nearly a third of new hires look for a new role within their first six months on the job. With this in mind, it’s vital that new employees benefit from a tailored onboarding programme during the whole period in which they may be asking “Is this the right job for me?” Whether that be 30 days, 90 days or a year. 

According to TalentWise, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. That doesn’t just mean making sure their computer has been ordered and telling them where the fire exit is – but ensuring that they’re excited about - and supported in – their new role in equal measures.      

The bar on talent engagement has never been higher, but unless communications run seamlessly throughout the recruitment process and into employment there is always a risk that would be employees will slip down the cracks. Don’t fall at the final hurdle.

About Laurie Padua


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