New Hire Retention in the Age of Covid – It’s All About Communication

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Retention is always a challenge, but during these times of remote work, it is especially important to consider during a new employee’s first 90 days with your company. The positives about your company that you might take for granted become harder for new hire to appreciate when filtered through zoom calls and emails. When clients talk to me about their company culture, whether it is primarily one of collaboration, innovation, a familial atmosphere, or a social mission, all of these things are expressed primarily through relationships that are traditionally experienced in a physical space. We step into conference rooms or crowd around someone’s desk, we chat in the hallway on the way out the door, or we gather around tables of food.

During the time of remote work, it becomes even more important to create time to build your new employee’s relationship with their coworkers. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.

Zoom/Webex/Teams – Participants, Time, Agenda, and Chat

We’ve all had the experience of being on a zoom call that had a few too many people participating and went on a bit too long. Sitting in front of a screen is not the same as sitting around a table. Our brains just tend to process these experiences differently.

Participants – Keep the number of participants low as you can. Three or four people can have a free flowing, meaningful conversation. If more are involved the tendency will be for some people to start to check out. You many need to set up concurrent meetings, use breakout rooms, or select an individual to represent a particular team. Keep in mind that the more people you add, the more your video call turns into a broadcast, not a conversation.

Time – Another key is to watch the time. About 15-30 minutes per meeting is best, with an hour being the maximum most people can stay engaged without a break. Anything more will have rapidly diminishing returns.

Agenda – Create an agenda and stick to it. You may need to suggest that certain topics be tabled or addressed via one-on-one chats or emails.

Chat – Add time for free conversation into the plan. Even if it’s only a few minutes, this unstructured time is the biggest thing your new hire is missing out on as a remote worker. Whether the talk is related to work or the latest bingeable TV show, this is an opportunity for them to build meaningful connections with the rest of the team. It may seem extraneous, but those connections will bring them deeper into the fold, which will impact productivity and drive the kinds of collaboration you depend on to innovate and succeed.

The Interview is Ongoing

Don’t stop the interview. Just because you’ve made the hire doesn’t mean that the evaluation period has ended for either you or your employee. The interview process takes the form of a series of conversations. Keep those two-sided conversations going. Engage your new teammate with meaningful questions about their training or work. Solicit feedback on the process. Share your own thoughts and goals as they relate to the work and the company’s mission. Even if these talks take the form of a few offhand remarks peppered through the onboarding process or even as scheduled 15-minute check-in calls everyday or every other day.

Communication is Key – Easy to Understand and Easy to Forget

The bottom line is to make communication a priority during the first 90 days. Do it in a way that makes sense for you, your new hire, and the company, but consider doing more to make them feel connected to the team than perhaps you normally would if you were in the office. It might seem like a time-consuming proposition, but it is nothing compared to the time it will take to replace them.

At DW Simpson we are happy to help you find the right candidates for your actuarial and analyst positions!