6 Ways Managers Can Engage and Retain New Hires

Starting a job is an exciting and scary moment for new hires. The first 90 days of employment are a critical time when they develop lasting opinions about their workplace that will affect their future performance. When handled well, the onboarding experience sets up an employee for success that will pay strong dividends to the company.

When handled well, the onboarding experience sets up an employee for success.

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The Good News

Our employee engagement survey benchmark shows new employees are more engaged in their work and committed to the company than other employees. When we looked at engagement levels of first-year employees in our employee engagement survey database for 2015, we found 82% of employees with less than one year of tenure are engaged, compared to 75% of longer-tenured employees. Looking at the same data, we also found their commitment to stay (retention) is higher than other tenure groups: 74% compared to 70%.

But the employee experience for a new hire can be shaky during the first year. New employees are learning their job, understanding how the company works, and building relationships with coworkers, all while trying to establish a reputation as a top contributor. An employee’s direct manager has a huge influence over these factors.

As part of a successful onboarding experience, here are six ways managers can boost retention and engagement with new hires.

Have Career Development Conversations

During the first week, talk with new hires about their career aspirations. Find out where they want to be in five years, and help them see how they can achieve their goals in the new company. Identify learning opportunities and map out a rough timeline to hit certain milestones. Review these plans every quarter during a one-on-one.

Involve Them in Social Activities

Integrating socially can be one of the most stressful parts of starting a new job. Making new friends is difficult for some people, so take an active role in including new hires in company activities and group lunches. Introduce them to people they will need to work with to be successful in their role.

Ensure They Have the Training They Need

Many new hires are provided “on-the-job training”, which essentially means, “start doing the work and figure it out on your own.” This type of experience can quickly lead to frustration and burn-out for new employees. Make sure they receive the formal training they need to feel confident in their ability to be successful.

Provide the Necessary Tools and Resources

Are your new hires given the “hand-me-down” computer to do their job? If so, they may struggle to get it to work and may be reluctant to say anything about it. As a manager, use your influence to get them the tools they need to be successful.

Help Align New Hires with the Company Culture and Mission

New employees are excited to make an impression and contribute in their new roles. Show them how their work makes a difference and drives organizational success. As they see meaning and impact in their work, they will be more committed to stay and deliver results.

New employees are excited to make an impression and contribute in their new roles.

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Solicit Their Feedback

Use a confidential new-hire survey to gather feedback from employees during their first year. When speaking with their managers, new hires may not be completely honest about all aspects of their job. A new hire survey administered at 30, 60, and 90 days will provide a comprehensive look at their employee experience. Because the survey is confidential, results will be summarized for all new hires, but the data will give you important insights into problems that may not come up in your one-on-one conversations.

As a manager, don’t compromise the high level of engagement new hires experience during their first year by being careless about the onboarding experience. When onboarding is done well, new hires will get up-to-speed faster and deliver stronger results.



Charles Rogel

Charles has an extensive background in international sales and consulting. Prior to DecisionWise, he worked for over 10 years in Sales and Marketing roles at various software companies, including Modus Media International, Parlant Technology, and Plato learning. Due to Charles' unique background in both organization development and technology sales, he is responsible for leading a team that acts as the first point of client contact in providing coaching, 360-degree feedback, employee engagement surveys, and organization change initiatives. He is also called upon to design assessment and organization-wide change processes for a number of DecisionWise global clients. As an expert in employee engagement and 360-degree feedback, Charles has worked with organizations in over 30 countries, including living in Europe for an extended period. Charles holds an M.B.A, as well as a B.A. in Humanities from Brigham Young University. He enjoys running and spending time with his wife and four children.

  • Oliver Coscina

    Helpful for managers. Some managers really don’t have what it takes to make employees settle faster. Good tips worthy of putting into practice.

  • Charles Rogel

    Yea, I think some managers take a “sink or swim” approach with new hires. They see it as the responsibility of the new-hire to navigate the obstacles of the first year and survive, not realizing that they burn through good talent.

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