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In the contact center world, it’s all about retention. Great retention rates allow the center to make money and get a return on investment. When it comes to retention, it’s true that recruitment is important. So is training (more on that next month). But a step exists in between that is often overlooked; that step is onboarding, and it pays to give it your full attention.

Welcome, come on inAccording to Dimension Data’s 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, “Go Digital Or Die,” contact centers on average lose 37.1% of agents in the first six months. A strong and effective onboarding program brings that number down by making new agents feel like valued members of the team that make real contributions to the success of the organization. As this HR.com article makes plain, “Employees with a strong commitment to their job have higher rates of productivity and a better understanding of their impact on the organization.” Convinced of onboarding’s importance yet?

Many organizations have trouble with onboarding because it lacks a strict definition and is instead an ongoing process that can be a fluid based on the role and organization. Regardless, here are three important ideas to keep in mind to successfully onboard employees:

-Do you start onboarding on the employee’s first day? Then you’re doing it wrong. Start the moment a job offer is accepted. Many tasks can and should be completed before new employees walk in the door in order to make them feel welcome, and as we established, happy employees make better employees. Demonstrate in concrete ways that you anticipated their arrival and show them immediately how much you value them. By starting this process before the first day, you are immediately fostering loyalty and dedication. Make them feel like a part of the team, and take care of your employees.

-Remember that training and onboarding work in tandem. Training imparts the skills necessary to do a job correctly and effectively while onboarding covers the cultural and social aspects of starting a new job. Both of these need to be effective in order for an employee to achieve success and make an impact. Cultural acclimation includes purposefully introducing new members to all of their new colleagues and making sure those colleagues know about the new face in the office ahead of time. Make time each week to check in with new hires to discuss any questions or concerns they have. This will make a world of difference and is as important as anything for creating a productive, healthy, and supportive work environment.

-Cultural acclimation includes discussing high-level concepts about the organization. Do new employees know your organization’s mission, values, and goals, and how their roles relate to those and support each? A great onboarding program cultivates employees who are proud of their organization, know what it stands for, and why they should care. This part is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of an employee’s early days on the job.

There’s more, of course. There’s always more! Next post we’ll discuss the top 5 best practices when onboarding. Any guesses what they are?

Photo found at Wikimedia Commons.

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