Are you working hard to recruit top talent to your startup, only to face high turnover rates?

If so, you’re not alone.

Companies lose 25% of all new employees within a year, says the Allied Workforce Mobility Survey.

All companies — startups more than most — invest tons of time and money to attract the best talent. In 2014, American companies increased their 2013 talent acquisition costs by 7%, to almost $4,000 per hire.

And that’s not all. The cost of replacing a good employee who left can go as high as $65,000 says Jason Evanish. That’s nuts. It’s like the monthly burn rate of a small startup.

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Why Is Your Top Talent Leaving?

If you ask employees why they’re quitting, you’ll get a range of answers. From “for personal reasons” to “I got a better offer.”

But in at least one out of six cases the real reason is an ineffective employee onboarding process.

employee onboarding checklist template Learn more about how this employee onboarding template can help you

In other words, you didn’t do a good enough job making your new hires feel at home and engaged.

But what is an engaged employee?

Surveys asking employees “what do you need to stay engaged?” revealed these 7 elements:

  1. Training
  2. More resources
  3. Coach or mentor other than my manager
  4. Clarity about what the company needs me to do
  5. Better communication with my manager
  6. Better relationship with my team manager
  7. Regular specific feedback about what I’m doing

And yet, 25% of companies say their onboarding does not include any kind of training. This is shocking considering the huge costs of recruiting.

If your company does not have a good onboarding process, you’re risking losing one in every six employees.

You’re also risking losing up to $65,000 — the cost of replacing a good employee. Ouch.

How To Avoid Top Talent Turnover?

The first 90 days of onboarding new employees are the most critical for the long run, research shows.

This means getting new employees engaged is not enough. You need to move fast.

There are different approaches towards onboarding new employees. Many include a long new employee checklist and a 120 day new employee orientation.

Agile planning companies can’t afford 120 days. Instead, we’ll teach you an approach that works. It works for us and for thousands of companies using

This approach answers all 7 elements responsible for employee engagement.

These are the exact strategies we use and they’ll work for you too. No new employee checklist needed.

Here’s how to avoid top talent turnover: from 90 days to 9 days onboarding.

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Day 1: Show the New Talent What the Company Needs by Sharing the Company Goals

Think about the top talent you’ve met over the years. They are achievement driven people. And what they like is to feel they’re making a difference right from the start.

But how can new recruits reach results fast, when they don’t know the first thing about the company or their new job? The answer is creating clarity about what the company needs them to do. And the best way to do that is to share the company goals with them from day one.

You might think that the logical thing to do is to give a new employee some time. You might think it’s a bad idea to overwhelm them with the company goals early on.

Many employers do that. They let people ease into their jobs before introducing the “bigger plan.” But in fact, if you’re doing that, you’re not doing your new recruits a favor.

Not revealing the company goals during onboarding process, sets new recruits up for failure. Being familiar with the company goals means better chances of success.

Not revealing the company goals during onboarding process, sets new recruits up for failure

77% of recruits who had a formal onboarding process, meet their goals. Only 49% of new recruits who didn’t have a formal onboarding process meet theirs.

So if you want to give your new top talent the best shot at success, share the company goals with them right away.

Knowing the company has a purpose is also important. A Deloitte survey shows that 73% of employees who say they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged. So on the first day on the job, share your company goals with your new recruits.

But how?

The best way to do this, is not a one-on-one meeting. What you want to do is list your high level goals in one place, accessible to everyone in the company.

A Board is perfectly suited for this job:

  •  Open a new Board.
  • Name it Company Goals.
  • Subscribe everyone in the company to this Board, including new hires.
  • A transparent company-goals Board helps everyone prioritize their own work in light of what’s important.
  • A transparent company-goals Board helps employees understand that their efforts are part of a team effort.
  • A transparent company-goals Board gets new employees to hit the ground running and sets them up for success. Because they know what the company needs.

If you don’t have your company goals written down, do it ASAP. Then put them on a Board.

Pro Tip: State the goals clearly. Write them in words that anyone can understand.

For example:

Release mobile app by May 30.
Reduce user churn rate to 5% by December.

End of day 1: Your new hire has focus and knows what the company needs.

Read on to learn how to make them part of the team.

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Day 2: Introduce Your New Hire to the Team with a Virtual Handshake

Think back. Remember your first day on a new job? It’s like being the new kid on the block. Intimidating and stressful. You get introduced to everyone by an HR person clutching a new employee checklist.

It’s hard to focus on your job when you’re preoccupied with fitting in. This is especially true in startup companies, which thrive on company culture fit.

As companies grow, most new employees know their direct supervisor and certain members of the HR team. They don’t know anyone beyond that.

But to stay engaged and motivated, they need “a better relationship with co-workers” as the survey reveals.

An effective new employee orientation process must take this into account. You have to go beyond the standard new employee checklist. You need to help new hires become familiar and comfortable with the rest of the team.

This is crucial for efficient work, because work involves co-dependencies. In simpler terms, we often need things from our co-workers. And we’re more likely to approach them if we know them.

Creating a central place for new hires to get familiar with the entire team is another positive step in the onboarding process. Some companies put up pictures of everyone on a wall with their names. But you can’t expect a new hire to memorize everyone from a wall full of photos or a tour of the office.

You can do much better!

The best way to get to know co-workers, is through their work. Knowing your peers in the context of what they do is by far more interesting and efficient.

The way to do this is to invite your new hires to your company’s account and give them time to play around.

  • Tell them to subscribe to all the Pulses relevant to their job.
  • Encourage them to explore further, and subscribe to Pulses they’re interested in. Even if they have nothing to do with their job description.
  • By reading the Pulses, new hires will get to know everyone in the company.
  • Pulses are where all communication and collaboration happens. It’s where people post updates, and others comment.
  • Just like with Facebook, users have profiles. When they post an update or leave a comment — their name and photo appear next to it.
  • It’s easy to get to know people through their professional contribution and in context.
  • Example: After you see Joan posting design files for the fourth time, you’ll remember Joan is a designer. You’ll recognize her. And you’ll remember her through her designs.  The next time you see Joan at the coffee machine, you’ll be able to say “I loved your design for the chat feature.”

Avishai Abrahami, founder and CEO of Wix, now a $1 billion company with 900 employees, says:

“At Wix parties, I can approach any employee and talk to them about their work. It blows their minds. They’re like ‘how do you know?’ and the answer is! Do you know what that does to their motivation?!”

Same goes for new employees. The updates on the Pulses make getting new hires familiar with your team a breeze. It’s like a virtual handshake, only better.

Pro Tip: Make sure existing team members have clear profile photos of themselves and not photos of their dog.

End of day 2: Your new hire is now familiar with the team.

Read on to learn how to start their training on day 3.

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Day 3: Kick Off Training by Revealing the Company (work) Culture as Part of Your Employee Onboarding Process

Now that you’ve hired a new talent, with a good cultural fit, you want to introduce them to the company culture as soon as possible.

Your culture is not just about company retreats in beautiful places and having a Street Fighter machine in the lobby. It’s about the way you do things. How the company conducts itself. How it manages its workflow.

That’s why on the third day, you should get your new hire familiar with your workflow management system. This will allow new hires to see how the company works. How the company does things.

Here’s how:

  • Invite new hires to a few company Boards that feature a process.
  • The employee will see the company workflow.
  • The employee will see progress.
  • The employee will take in the company culture of transparency.
  • The employee will see who’s in charge of what. Then if they have questions on a process, they know who to turn to.
  • Viewing the company workflow will give new hires a sense of confidence. A feeling that they’ve arrived at a company that can communicate itself internally.

Pro tip: New employees need to know more than your company vision and goals. They need to get familiar with the company roadmap. A roadmap is the way to reach your goals. It includes milestones — short-term goals that you need to reach on your way to the high level goals.

Kick off your new hire’s training by inviting them to the Company-Roadmap Board. Knowing the company goals creates focus. Knowing the roadmap will give them a hands-on feeling and make them ready and eager to get to work.

Knowing the company goals creates focus. Knowing the roadmap generates motivation.

End of day 3: Your new hire is familiar with the company work culture.
Read on to learn how to get them to hit the ground running.

Day 4: Get Them to Hit the Ground Running with Pulses

On-the-job training and getting up to speed are crucial for onboarding.

According to a survey of employees who left their jobs after six months or less, 76% stated that’s what they needed.

28% of the 1,000 participants said that an employee handbook would have been helpful.

But handbooks are so 1999. There’s a better way. And indeed, there is.

To get your new hires to hit the ground running on day 4 do this:

  • Give them an assignment.
  • The assignment should be small.
  • The assignment should be around your core business.
  • The assignment should be part of a bigger project already in progress.
  • Show the employee the Pulses relevant to this project.
  • Encourage the employee to read everything that team members have already done.

A designer who recently joined Wix’s Product-Marketing team shares her experience. This is how she felt using to prep for her first assignment:

“I went into the Pulses of the project. Then I just sat there and read everything people had said and done in this project. It was like catching up with a colleague who gives you the lowdown on everything.

“By going over the past work on the project and seeing the discussions around each stage, I learned how they reached decisions. I learned the challenges. I learned the reasons behind product decisions.

“I also got familiar with my team members. Now I know who to go to with any question.”

Pro tip: Make sure the employee knows they’re not expected to do anything during this day besides reading.

End of day 4: Your new hire just hit the ground running.
Read on to learn how to step up their training.

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Day 5: Step Up their Training with Context, Using Project Boards

At this point in the onboarding process, you’ve given your new talent a view of the company and its plans, its culture. They’ve also started prepping for their first assignment by catching up on its recent history.

The next step is to get the new hire familiar with their own tasks and responsibilities.

Dig deeper: The Right Way to Assign Tasks

If you want to keep your employees — not just the new ones – engaged, you need to give their work context. The most direct way to do this is by managing each project on a project Board.

A project Board is like a table. The rows display all the tasks that your team needs to do for the project to be complete. The columns can be used to add relevant information about each task: owners, due dates, scope and urgency.

When a new employee sees their own tasks on the Board, in the context of the project, they know where they fit in. They gain an immediate sense of purpose and belonging. These are critical for employee engagement.

It’s training, but it doesn’t feel like training. It feels like working already. The project Board give tasks a time frame which motivates the new employees to get to work. When an employee is afraid of falling behind or being a bottleneck, they will ask questions and close knowledge gaps.

Pro Tip: You can make do with giving each task just an owner and a progress status (Working on it / Delayed / Done). But best practice suggests adding a scope (Small / Medium / Large) and Urgency (High / Low / Medium).

This lets you prioritize with ease:

  • Use Drag and Drop to put tasks in order of priorities – from top to bottom.
  • From top to bottom: high small, high medium, high big etc.
  • Next, give due dates.

End of day 5: Your new hire got to work.
Read on to learn how to give them a safety net

Day 6: Give Your New Hire Performance Support

Employees today need a ton of information to succeed in their work. The old distinction between learning and working has disappeared. In startups especially, every work day is also a steep learning curve. This continuous learning is a crucial part of the employee’s performance.

In this environment, if you want your new employees to succeed, you need to give them performance support.

On day 6, your new hire already knows the company goals, the team and the work culture. They have context and have started working on their own assignment.

Now it’s time to introduce them to your company’s performance support.

The best way to achieve this is to introduce them to Talk Pulses.

Talk Pulses are simply Pulses named Talk. Each team gets its own Talk Pulse — R&D Talk, Performance Marketing Talk etc.. A Pulse looks a lot like a Facebook group page. This is a place for team members to post and discuss new ideas and resources.

Talk Pulses are a great performance support resource.  They expose the employee to a variety of new tools, ideas, articles and feedback. As many as the team generates.
Talk Pulses offer more advantages to the onboarding process:

Talk Pulses allow you as an employer to identify engaged employees. This is evident by their involvement in the Talks.

They give introverts a channel of communication that doesn’t involve happy hours or group sports.

Talk Pulses are another way to introduce company the culture to new recruits and get them engaged.

Pro Tip: Despite your instinct as a manager, encourage employees to start Talks for off-work topics. Like Music Recommendations and Recipes. People will use them less than you expect. But their contribution to fortifying good connections between employees is huge.

End of day 6: Your new hire knows where to get what they need.
Read on to learn how to make them proud.

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Day 7: Inspire Motivation with Transparent Dashboards

People want to be part of success.

But what if you’re a startup, and you’re not a huge success just yet?

No worries. You can still celebrate success with transparent dashboards.

What are transparent dashboards? They are dashboards you create for your company (you can even your HR tool to do it).

The dashboard should include:

  • Key KPIs
  • Motivational elements
  • Fun elements

Key KPIs are numbers contributing directly to your growth. You can see for us that’s signups and paying companies.

Motivational can include graphs. As you can see for us there’s a graph, and also photos of all our users.

Fun elements can be anything that helps you celebrate in a fun way.

What you can’t see in the photo, is that we have different sounds for different events on the dashboard. For example, each time a company upgrades to a two-year subscription, Celebration by Kool and the Gang goes off. Naturally – we all get up and dance.

When a customer upgrades their account, Celebration by Kool and the Gang goes off. Naturally we all get up and dance

Hook the dashboard to large flat screen TVs in your office.

Transparent dashboards are a type of rally around the flag. But they also make for a great PR tool. Everyone who visits your offices — job applicants, investors, colleagues —  see them and your success. This creates a sense of pride among your employees.

Pro tips:

Avoid letting the display become stale. Make sure it updates in realtime.
Don’t raise the bar too high. Celebrate small steps as success. Just as long as they contribute to your growth.

End of day 7: Your new hire is happy they joined a successful company.
Read on to learn how to boost their personal motivation.

Day 8: Give Recognition Using Thumbs Up, Comments and Pulse TV

All employees need feedback and recognition, and new employees need them more than anyone.

People who quit their jobs after less than 6 months, said they needed better communication with their managers. They also mentioned a need for regular specific feedback about their work.

But managers can’t be everywhere at the same time to give recognition and encouragement to each employee. It’s impossible.

Research shows that boosting motivation doesn’t require long and elaborate feedback. In fact, motivation shoots through the roof even by getting the smallest recognition. This can be as little as saying “I saw this.”

The best way to communicate small gestures of appreciation on a daily basis is to use Thumbs Up, Comments and Pulse TV.

Thumbs Up on are similar to Facebook Likes. For a new employee it means a lot to see that their direct boss thumbed up their update.

Comments can used to offer more substance. Anything from “you rock” to “congrats on your first x” will do wonders for new employees’ motivation (as well as for old ones).

Pulse TV is a way to turn any Pulse into a live stream on a TV. A great motivational way to use it, is for user feedback.

For example, you can use Zapier to automate Twitter and turn all the positive feedback you get on Twitter into a Pulse.

Then, with one click, you can stream it live to a TV in the office. This boosts motivation.

The one thing these three methods have in common, is peer recognition. So a new employee isn’t just getting a thumbs up from their boss, they also gain peer recognition for that thumbs up.

Pro Tip: Keep it transparent! Transparency is what turns your manager-to-employee feedback into peer recognition. This is essential for long-lasting motivation.


End of day 8: Your new hire is motivated.

Read on to learn the final step.

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Day 9: Give Them Freedom to Work

Don’t be afraid. It’s not too early. Your new hire knows everything they need to know to ask questions. They know where the company stores information. They know how to look for information around topics. They know how to discover who’s in charge of what. That’s the performance support they need.

Now give them another assignment, and set them free to tackle it and to look for answers and solutions.

Assure them they can approach you with any question.

But allow them some time alone to deal with the new challenge. This will enable them to strike a balance between freedom and responsibility.

End of day 9: You taught your employees to fish, now they will live forever. You’ve reduced the new hire orientation period from 90 days to 9. But even more important — you’ve planted the seeds for an engaged employee. This minimizes the risk of your new top talent leaving in less than six months and costing you thousands of dollars on a new hire.

Final Thoughts

You put in tons of time and money in recruiting the best talent. You go to great efforts to make sure they’re a good culture fit.

And yet, you’re at risk of losing one out of six new employees and thousands of dollars.

All because of insufficient employee onboarding. Don’t take the risk.

Use this method to ensure new employees have a successful onboarding.

Follow this method, and shorten the critical first 90 days into 9 days.

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