In our previous post about retention, we discussed the importance of helping your best employees to grow, mainly by giving them the proper amount of attention. This provides them with the experience they crave, thereby increasing your rate of retention. In this, our next article in the retention series, we’re going to take a small step backward for the purpose of going forward.
That small step involves what the candidate hears during the interview process vs. what they experience after accepting the offer and starting their employment. This “before-and-after” dynamic is crucial to the overall retention experience, and it’s all the more crucial because many employers don’t take the time to examine what type of experience they’re providing for their new employees. And then they wonder why they take another job after only three months.
It’s human nature
The “before-and-after” experience is a smaller component of the larger, more complex subject of onboarding, which we’ll be discussing in future articles. However, it differs from onboarding in the respect that it continues for a greater length of time after the candidate becomes an employee—for at least the three-month period mentioned above, and perhaps even longer.
What it comes down to is this: you have to pay as much attention to what you say and do both before the candidate is hired and after they’re hired as the candidate does. The fact of the matter is that the majority of company officials fail to do that. The reason? They don’t have the time to do it, or perhaps more accurately, they think they don’t have the time. Sure, everybody’s busy, but those people willing to apply energy to critical areas are the ones that will be more successful in the long run, and providing the best experience to candidates in this situation is most definitely critical.
You see, an employee is mentally comparing and contrasting what you say about the company and the position during the interview process with what they experience after they’re hired. They do this either consciously or subconsciously. (It’s human nature . . . there’s no way around it.) And if the notes they compare don’t match, then the experience you’re providing is ultimately a negative one.
Consequently, your chances of retaining that employee decrease dramatically.
A hierarchy of needs
Okay, so what are some of the areas about which employees take (and compare) mental notes? There are a few, to be sure, but there’s also a hierarchy of importance:
• Job requirements—This is the one that can cause you the most damage. Nothing will deflate a new employee more quickly than discovering that what they were told about their new position during the interview was nothing like it actually is once they started the job.
• Company culture—Telling a candidate during the interview stage that they won’t be expected to work past 5 p.m. isn’t wise if the company culture is one that dictates—in an unwritten fashion—that longer hours are not only encouraged, but expected.
• Perks—This could include the availability of a company car, the number of holidays the company observes each year, the amount of vacation time afforded new employees, or even the details of their health insurance plan.
• Miscellaneous expectations—If the new employee has been told that they’ll meet with their immediate supervisor for an hour every week for the first four weeks of their employment, and that doesn’t happen, then their expectations were not met. This category can include a host of other things, including what equipment you’re providing the employee, the length of their lunch break, the company’s policy regarding personal phone calls, etc.
There are two measures that you can undertake to ensure that you’re providing the best “before-and-after” experience. The first is to meticulously write down what you tell candidates during the interview process and then consult the list in the weeks after the candidate begins employment. Keep an eye out for any discrepancies. The second measure is to conduct a “post-interview” with the employee and inquire as to whether or not their expectations are being met.
This is probably the more difficult of the two measures, since there’s a prevailing company mindset that stipulates new employees “must prove themselves.” (That’s why companies have a probation period.)
What many company officials fail to realize, though, is that they’re on probation, too, as is the company in general. Not only does the employee have something to prove, but in a way, you do, as well. By realizing this and addressing it in a pro-active fashion, you can enhance the experience that new employees receive and dramatically improve both their satisfaction and your overall rate of retention.
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