The Ones That Get Away: How to Avoid Losing Good Employees

As the economy gradually recovers from a difficult year, small businesses are working hard to bounce back. One challenge is rebuilding our workforce with solid new employees. Although many people are looking for work, the changing realities of schooling, childcare, remote work, and unemployment benefits may make it difficult for both employers and candidates to find “the right fit.”
With increased competition for quality candidates, it’s a good time to rethink your hiring process. One area that many companies can improve is their new employee onboarding process. Careful onboarding can be the key to retaining a great new hire. Research shows that 69% of employees who experience good onboarding stay with their companies for at least three years. Additionally, 90% of employees decide whether to stay or leave a job within the first six months. This means that the seeds of a long-term, successful partnership between an employee and a company are planted early.
The benefits of holding on to a good hire are numerous. Depending on the position, it can cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to replace an employee, not including the new person’s pay and benefits. Recruiting is a costly process, and the institutional knowledge lost during employee turnover can take a long time to replace.
Follow these basic steps to create a great onboarding experience for a new hire. Add in details specific to your company and the new person’s role to ensure great employees stay with your company for years to come:
1. Send an offer letter. Everything decided in negotiations with new candidates needs to be placed in writing, including but not limited to position title, pay rate/salary, benefits, start date, and work schedule. This is also a place to show enthusiasm for the new employee and welcome them to the company. Give them a few days to review, sign, and return the letter, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
2. Develop a training plan. At a minimum, the employee’s first week should be scheduled out by their direct supervisor/manager and anyone else connected to the role. (In many instances, it’s even better to plan out two weeks.) Typical components of the first few weeks include orientation, safety training, introductions to the team, product demonstrations, and shadowing employees in similar roles. Beyond those first two weeks, plan goals and projects to further the employee’s growth, including metrics to assess progress. Depending on the complexity of the role, training plans can reach up to 90 days, with specific goals in each month to help the employee start on the right track.
3. Conduct pre-onboarding. Within a week of their first day, reach out to the new hire to confirm the start date and time, and cover first day basics like directions and parking. Share the training plan to help them get excited about what they will learn in this new position. Depending on your organization, it might also make sense to set up access to company systems like email, shared drives, or building security before the first day.
4. Plan a great first day. Make sure the new employee gets plenty of time to meet and talk with their new team. Clean and set up their designated workspace, providing all required tools and supplies. Small swag items, a group lunch, or even just a brief meeting to introduce the new person will help them feel welcome. If they’re not shadowing a supervisor, the supervisor should check in at least at the beginning and end of the day.
5. Ongoing training and accountability. Do a 1 week, 30-day, and 60-day check-in with the new employee. Assess how well they have met the goals laid out in their training plan. Gauge how they’re enjoying the role and fitting into the company. Ensure they have the support and resources they need and solicit feedback on how the training and onboarding process can be improved.
We at NiteHawk know how critical it is to build a solid team. If we can ever help with this or other business needs, reach out to us at 800.448.9364. We’d love to help!


Arindrajit, Dube, Eric Freeman, & Michael Reich. 2010. Employee Replacement Costs. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Available at
Bell, Ashley. 25 Sep 2020. 7-steps to a perfect employee onboarding process for new hires in 2020. Caroo. Available at
Clickboarding. 3 Dec 2015. The 3 best ways to retain job hoppers. Available at
Hirsch, Arlene S. 10 Aug 2017. Don’t underestimate the importance of good onboarding. SHRM. Available at

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