The ‘Great Resignation’ Part Three: Employee Retention Starts Before the First Day on the Job

The new hire onboarding process is a great way to set the stage for an employee’s future and should be in every organization's Employee Retention 101 playbook.
The new hire onboarding process is a great way to set the stage for an employee’s future at the company and should be in every organization’s “Employee Retention 101” playbook.

The new hire onboarding process is a great way to set the stage for an employee’s future at the company. Starting a new job, even a highly prized one, is stressful. Recruiting and training a new employee is hard enough. Having to do it all over again because the new employee doesn’t “stick” is worse.

Intelex was awarded a Silver medal in Brandon Hall Group’s 2021 Excellence in Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, Human Resources, Sales Performance, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Future of Work Awards for Best New Hire Onboarding Program. The onboarding process starts a week before the employee begins and continues through the first week of employment and beyond.

At Intelex, onboarding programs aren’t just for employees. The program is centralized through the Learning and Development Department (L&D) within Human Resources, which means that all communication to the new hire and the team receiving the employee is consistent and all new hires receive a similar experience from the week before their start date to the end of their first week.

Managers Are Star Players in Employee Retention

Managers receive daily reminders to create smart goals for new employees and to conduct coaching sessions and one-on-ones with them. With a global workforce of (still) predominantly remote employees, Intelex had to make some changes to accommodate the changing expectations of new employees coming in.

“The challenges faced by a global SaaS company require a resilient and flexible onboarding strategy,” said Bryan Humphries, Director of Talent Acquisition at Intelex. “Our program has been tested in these uncertain times and flourished; quickly transitioning to successfully support hiring 132 employees in 2020 despite the uncertainty of the times and high volume of participants.”

I recently experienced the Great Resignation first-hand, when a member of my team resigned in April. When that team member was hired, we received approximately 20 resumes. It’s not an entry-level position and requires a specialized skillset as well as basic knowledge of both software and EHSQ. I wasn’t surprised to receive a limited number of resumes. However, when we sought to fill the position again, there were nearly 50 resumes, and people whom I felt were overqualified were applying for the job.

As our HR department started talking to them, they discovered a lot people were looking for a change. Some wanted more money—if you haven’t hired anyone lately, you’re in for sticker shock—but most wanted flexible hours, remote work or just a change of pace. For the position I had advertised, managers and directors wanted out of days filled with meetings and spreadsheets. Instead, they were leaning into the part of the job they loved: Writing.

The ‘Great Resignation’ Can Be Good News for You

When I started at Intelex, Dan McLean was the Director of Content Marketing. He left Intelex for a couple of years, taking similar positions and a couple of companies. When the role on my team opened up, he reached out. He said the frustration of COVID isolation for a year and a half got him thinking more deeply about the work he was doing and whether it was truly satisfying for him. He’d been managing content marketing teams for nearly six years, and the greatest reward was always to coach, mentor, write and edit.

“When COVID hit and we all worked in greater isolation, managing became increasingly difficult. Not so much because I wasn’t able to manage teams, but I found more and more of my time spent trying to manage my managers, who wanted much more continuous reporting and updates, and were perhaps feeling isolated themselves. Less of my time was spent on coaching and writing, the things I loved most,” Dan said.

“Six months of this had me feeling as though I was in a rut. [I felt the] frustration that came with the type of work I didn’t enjoy—and frankly loathed—outweighing the things I liked to do. Each day felt more frustrating and I knew I needed a change. I needed to get back to doing what was challenging and fulfilling for me.”

Dan’s days had been filled with completing metrics spreadsheets on almost a daily basis, constantly revisiting strategic plans, always explaining why his team’s performance metrics were as they were and continually trying to pivot.

“I hated it. I had no passion for such work,” Dan said. “I needed to get back to doing what I felt I did best—where I could contribute most and what I truly loved to do. I wanted to write—again—and do the things the teams I was managing were doing. I envied them and came to the realization that I’d be so much happier if I did what they did.”

Dan was fortunate; we were able to welcome him back. I was fortunate; I got a great writer and editor who not only understands the subject matter, but who knows the company and our products.

We’ll never know what would have happened if Dan had gone to his former employer and asked to take a step back. Would they have decided that keeping a dedicated, valuable employee was worth pivoting and making adjustments?

One person I interviewed wasn’t so lucky. He had been a dedicated employee and likely had been experiencing what Dan felt. He was burned out by the stress associated with his previous job, he told me, and a conversation about his career trajectory with his CEO had not gone well.

When he suggested to the leadership team that he take a step back, continue to work remotely and concentrate on creating content, not managing a team and a strategy, he was told there wasn’t a place for him if that was his career path. He walked away from the company, a start-up he had been with from the beginning. He knew there were other opportunities out there for him.

Intelex wasn’t the right one for him, but I have no doubt that he will find a great spot to land and that organization will be fortunate to have a dedicated, smart employee.

As for Dan, he’s already producing content. Check out his blog post, “Here’s How ESG Will Further the Cause of EHS.

Check out Part One and Part Two of this series:

The ‘Great Resignation’ Part One: What Steps Is Your Organization Taking to Retain and Entice Employees? What if your organization experienced as much as 50 percent employee turnover this year? What if that number was 70 percent or higher? As an EHS or quality professional, that would be a nightmare and these days, not an impossible scenario.

The ‘Great Resignation’ Part Two: Is Career Transparency the Key to Engaging and Retaining Employees? Is career transparency the key to retaining great employees? Many experts say it plays a huge role.

This entry was posted in EHSQ and tagged , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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