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3 Ways To Boost Retention Through a Positive Employee and Candidate Experience Employers can better direct engagement strategies to bolster retention efforts by focusing on the candidate and employee experience.

By Sean Fahey Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Following the recent wave of "quiet quitting" conversations, the topic of employee experience and, just as importantly, the candidate experience, has gained greater attention in the human resources space. At its core is a familiar employee engagement issue newly shrouded in post-pandemic clothes, with two recent shifts underscoring its importance to both retention strategies and competition for top talent: the evolution of remote and hybrid work and a now candidate-driven market.

Nearly half (47%) of HR leaders have identified employee experience as a top priority, indicating that employers want to address increased employee expectations head-on. And while the extent of media attention around "quiet quitting" may have seemed overwhelming and even a bit scary for recruiters and other human resource professionals, there are effective ways to help uplift and positively engage employees and candidates. Here are three actions to consider.

Related: Benefits of a Positive Work Environment

1. Create a more transparent and positive hiring process

Updated employment trends data from sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that quit rates are still historically high compared to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began. They're also moving with the same trend line as hiring rates.

The data alludes to the fact that many employers are still missing the mark in the hiring process, both in who they're hiring and engaging candidates. A few ways to improve the recruitment and hiring process include:

  • Have a clear (and realistic) vision of the roles you're hiring for
  • Create a more descriptive and enticing job description that offers information about benefits, salary ranges and specified job duties
  • Communicate promptly at every stage of the interview process
  • Make interviewing scheduling highly flexible to meet a variety of needs
  • Ensure your hiring team is equipped with the resources and information they need to perform at their best during the interview
  • Stay in touch between the offer acceptance and the onboarding period, including introducing new hires to the team
  • Provide interview feedback — yes, even to candidates you don't hire

Don't take the hiring experience for granted. Even candidates who accept your offer may begin with a negative or skeptical impression of your company if there are missteps during the hiring process. And those are only the candidates you bring on; another 58% of job seekers won't even bother accepting a role if their experience has been poor.

Related: Top 5 Ways to Attract Quality Hires During the Employee Shortage Crisis

2. Improve the onboarding experience for new hires

A Gallup study discovered that only 12% of employees "strongly agreed" that their company provided a good onboarding experience. That's an abysmally low number, especially when you consider that a standardized onboarding process can increase new hire productivity by 62% and retention by as much as 50%.

The first few months of a new hire's employment experience is the make-or-break period for many. The Human Capital Institute highlights a few reasons why new hires quit. Their list included unmet expectations from the hiring phase, a lack of clarity on their role, bad managers and too few development opportunities.

It's simple. When you hire new employees, they need constant communication, clarity and positive support — otherwise, they'll quickly disengage. Some will quit right away. Others will check out until a better opportunity comes along and then leave.

There are two easy ways to improve the onboarding experience:

  1. Increase the length and improve the structure of the onboarding program. CareerBuilder discovered that 25% of employers have one day or less onboarding period. That's too short to effectively learn a role or become well acquainted with the company culture. The desire to activate new employees quickly is understandable, but rushing that process can lead to higher turnover.
  2. Assign a mentor or onboarding buddy. Who's better to teach a new hire the ropes than your existing team? In its 2022 Mentoring Impact Report, MentorcliQ discovered that 84% of Fortune 500 companies now have mentoring programs. New hires may struggle to find that buddy or mentor independently, meaning HR should take the lead and utilize the right tools and processes to help match new employees into these relationships.

Related: Is Your Onboarding Process Broken? Here's How to Fix It

It's clear that the largest and most successful companies have leaned more heavily into mentoring as a solution to engagement and retention. Assigning employees a mentor at the start of their relationship with you will give them a more direct path to troubleshooting, learning company culture and navigating pathways to career growth. Whether formal or informal, mentorship programs give employees a 'sense of belonging' and help them build social capital. As recently reported by McKinsey, those with greater social capital were 1.5 times more likely to feel engaged. Gen Z and Millennial workers strongly want frequent, ongoing communications from their employment experience.

3. Increase engagement strategies and avoid layoffs where possible

Looking to cut costs is understandable, but where you cut could hurt employee engagement. Massive layoffs cause employee engagement to nosedive and may lead to turnover contagion. Before you take action on cutting costs, consider the following:

Avoid the unintended consequences that occur from layoffs. Low engagement is an expensive problem that Gallup called "The World's $7.8 Trillion Workplace Problem". Under normal economic downturns, businesses could get away with layoffs and not risk immediate turnover contagion. But these aren't normal economic times. If you can manage it, retain your employees.

Maintain or increase spending on engagement. Keep your engagement programs in place. Whether you lean into mentoring programs, career development opportunities, rewards or regular public recognition for employees doing a great job, quiet quitting occurs when employees see you dropping those strategies that serve their needs.

Related: The Secrets Behind Successful Employee Onboarding

Key takeaways

Whether it's candidates first entering your hiring pipeline or tenured employees, it's clear that companies need to implement engagement strategies to strengthen retention in the current market conditions. Businesses can respond by using practical strategies that look at creating positive experiences that begin at the hiring and onboarding stages to set employees up for success and instill a strong sense of belonging.

Sean Fahey

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of VidCruiter

Sean Fahey is an award-winning business leader, serial entrepreneur and CEO of VidCruiter, one of the fastest-growing remote-recruitment companies on the market.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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