By Robert Mattson, VP of Content Marketing, Ceridian
When someone leaves an organization we all feel the loss. Whether it’s that hourly employee that is the heart of the store moving to the competitor down the road for a 50 cent an hour increase, or the top performer in a corner office. Even before the goodbye lunches and the cards being passed around to sign, the effect has been around for weeks and months. It’s the looming phantom of lost productivity. And now, it will only get worse as the colleague walks out the door.
Fully one-third of the U.S. workforce has been at their current job less than two years. That makes attrition a productivity killer, but not just for the standard reasons that most of us consider. We know that an empty chair means everyone has to pitch in and we know that recruiters are scheduling interviews for candidates that we have to take time out of the day to meet. But, there is even more to the problem than that. Let’s look at the productivity lifecycle from the day an employee starts a new job.
Phase 1: Onboarding and Learning
During this phase an employee is learning about their new environment, colleagues, products, processes, and facilities while building their network and personal strategies to get things done. During this initial time employees are going from adding zero value to 100% efficiency. But how long does that take?
Some experts theorize that a professional employee takes from 20 to 26 weeks to reach full productivity, but in an article, Kevin Oakes, CEO of the Institute for Corporate Productivity, cites a study where 75% of respondents thought that it took between 12 months and a two years to hit that mark.
Phase 2: Full-Speed Productivity
However long it takes to reach full productivity in a given work environment, there is that happy time when an employee is fully enabled and producing their Standard Maximum Productivity (SMP). The key is to keep employees engaged and producing SMP for their entire career with the organization. Granted, no employee runs at the SMP all the time, and that is often affected by communication, fit with other employees, etc. Managers must be aware of when an employee is under stress or having team issues and work to improve them as quickly as possible.
Phase 3: The Outbound Spiral
Employees leave organizations. When they do for whatever reason it is not without it’s consequences. Whether those are time away for interviews, lack of overall productivity due to decreased engagement or communication, they have an effect on the individual employee’s productivity and often the productivity of those around them.
Accelerating and Maximizing
The question is, what are the best practices to accelerate onboarding and learning, enable an employee to work at their best, and maximize the length of time they are with the organization?
Here are 4 tips that have helped organizations:
- Augment standard on-boarding processes with tools and information regarding communication and fit with the existing team. Some organizations use Myers-Briggs, Enneagram or other types of personality tests. Knowing the profile of team members can provide clues on whether there could be issues when adding a new team member
- Measuring engagement, or even just the mood of employees provides direction on whether an employee is not performing at full capacity long before goals are missed or resumes get updated. The more regular the ability to measure employees’ moods the quicker adjustments can be made.
- Some managers aren’t great communicators and don’t shift their communication styles to fit individual employees. Provide each manager with information on their direct reports unique communication style, and then supply managers with tools and training to shift styles to match their employees. Improved communication drives better engagement and retention. Every 10 minutes a manager communicates effectively with an employee could mean weeks or months of additional tenure.
- Brag a little about what’s being done for employees. One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is to not promote all the things they do for their employees. Use all employee/manager tools, programs, and processes as marketing messages for your employment brand. Have brown-bag lunch and learns, run webcasts, speak at conferences. Make sure your employees, colleagues, and potential employees know that your organization is focused on your employees and is doing things to make your organization a great place to work. Sometimes half the battle of engagement is just showing employees that it matters.
Keeping employees working at a high level for the longest time possible at an organization is a best practice for any business. With the advent of Mmllennials and their supposed “Tool-box” career mentality, it’s gotten more mindshare, but it’s something that is important for every generation. With estimates of productivity losses due to the initial learning curve of starting a new job at 1% to 2.5% of total revenue, it pays to focus on how to get employees happy, up-to-speed, and keep them running for as long as possible.
Robert Mattson is the VP of Content Marketing for Ceridian responsible for Product Marketing, Digital Marketing and Social Marketing. Mr. Mattson has been in the technology space for over 25 years with companies such as ADP, Workscape, Performix Technologies, Telerik, Eprise and Applix. His focus has been on how HR technology can be effectively leveraged to overcome both technical and business challenges. He has spoken at events and conferences in the US and abroad, and his thoughts and research have been published both online and in print ranging from the Java Developer’s Journal to Talent Management Magazine.