3 ways to keep employees from dropping off the ‘new hire cliff’

There’s a level in each onboarding expertise when help drops off and new hires are left to fend for themselves—a phenomenon that has accelerated now that distant and hybrid work routines are the norm.

At many organizations, this level comes when all the paperwork is signed and coaching is accomplished—that means in some circumstances, on the first day. Employees are then despatched on their method, regardless of not feeling absolutely up to pace. They drop off what I name the “new hire cliff.” Left unaddressed, the new hire cliff can scale back an worker’s productiveness and satisfaction, hinder long-term engagement and connection, and even make them need to resign early.  

Now that many hiring freezes are easing up, firms are going through what has been dubbed the Nice Resignation, as a file variety of employees prepared for change depart their present roles seeking new positions. However as soon as an worker makes the transfer to a brand new group, they usually discover themselves going through the new hire cliff, and organizations danger dropping the employees they only spent helpful time and sources hiring. 


To keep away from the new hire cliff and make the most of their expertise, firms should rethink and restructure onboarding as greater than paperwork and some days of crammed-together coaching classes. Onboarding is a chance to arrange your new hire for fulfillment, empower them to carry their greatest selves to work, and in the end really feel extra linked to their staff and the function of their function. 

The dangers of the new hire cliff

Whereas getting onboarding proper presents an enormous alternative, getting it incorrect presents a serious danger to your group’s expertise technique. With 86% of new hires deciding how lengthy they’ll stick with an organization inside the first six months, onboarding is clearly a essential a part of the worker journey.

Managers usually neglect how overwhelming it may be to be a part of a brand new firm. From studying new insurance policies and procedures to assembly new staff members, the onboarding course of is stuffed with vital duties and moments that demand new hires’ time and a spotlight. It may be an amazing expertise—and it’s much more difficult now that many employees are onboarding remotely. 

In case your group doesn’t prioritize serving to employees overcome the new hire cliff, you danger dropping them to different alternatives and rivals. Recruiting and onboarding are costly: With prices to hire a substitute totaling as a lot as 33% of an employee’s annual salary, failing to retain new hires can negatively impression your backside line. 

Sadly, many organizations imagine hiring bonuses and better wages alone will transfer the needle on retention and turnover. However whereas these advantages could assist appeal to expertise, they received’t enable you to retain them until you deal with empowering and motivating new hires to take purposeful motion all through their onboarding expertise and past. 

3 ideas for overcoming the new hire cliff 

The important thing to best-in-class onboarding is to design it from the new hire’s perspective. Which means making use of human-centered design rules—i.e., connecting, nudging, and interesting your individuals in a seamless, human-centric method—to your onboarding methods. 

To enhance the new hire expertise and increase retention, I like to recommend following a handful of greatest practices:


  • Spark human connection. In a distant and hybrid office, human connection is much more vital—and in danger. However you’ll be able to alleviate that danger by encouraging connection from day one. A brand new hire’s first day needs to be certainly one of expertise, not studying. Don’t danger overwhelming new hires, simply give them the data they want to get by means of day one. Then on day two, they’ll be extra relaxed and prepared to be taught, particularly in the hybrid and distant work environments.  Ideally, day one ought to deal with sparking human connection—i.e., getting to know their supervisor and coworkers. You may foster relationships in the distant and hybrid workforce by matching new hires with mentors, arranging digital espresso chats, and sharing intro movies. Making buddies at work can encourage collaboration, enhance retention, and increase productiveness and happiness. New hires want to be educated, however in addition they want to be enthusiastic about their new function and firm. In the end, they’re in search of reassurance they’ve made the proper selection in altering jobs.
  • Personalize the onboarding expertise. At my firm, Enboarder, we begin the day one expertise earlier than the new hire’s first day by means of extremely personalised, thrilling, and significant content material. Throughout pre-onboarding, we ship out a questionnaire asking the new hire for his or her favourite tune, meals, and maybe most significantly, their preferrred 3 p.m. munchie. When a brand new hire walks by means of the door on the first day, they’re welcomed by the staff and showered with balloons, with their favourite tune taking part in in the background. For distant employees, that is accomplished over Zoom to guarantee a personalised and interesting expertise. We additionally like to take the new hire for lunch to a restaurant that serves their favourite meals. In the event that they’re distant, we host a digital lunch assembly and use a meals supply service to ship a meal to their dwelling. And when the 3 p.m. starvation rolls round, the new hire’s favourite snack is prepared for them on their desk (or in a care package deal mailed to them). I’ve discovered that easy issues, like the 3 p.m. munchie idea, can wow your new hires and make a huge impact on the worker journey.
  • Empower the individuals supervisor. To make sure the success of your new hires, you want to keep in mind that it’s not nearly the worker, but additionally their supervisor. The best know-how and wealthy content material media will assist create a fantastic first impression. However if you need that impression to final, you want a supervisor who places in the work for his or her employees. To activate and have interaction new hires, begin by activating and interesting your managers. Persistently nice onboarding means empowering each supervisor—whether or not they’re new or a seasoned supervisor with years of expertise. You want to spend simply as a lot effort and time on coaching the supervisor as you do the new hire. A terrific supervisor not solely has a well-prepared onboarding plan, however in addition they encourage their staff to rally round new hires. Analysis from Gallup reveals that managers account for (*3*), so teaching and guiding your managers is essential to nailing onboarding.

Onboarding is your greatest alternative to activate new hires and convey the greatest out in your hard-won expertise. With out a good supervisor or personalised engagement, new hires are routinely arrange to fail. Don’t let your employees succumb to the new hire cliff—help them from day one and all through their worker journey.

Brent Pearson is the CEO of Enboarder, an experience-driven onboarding and transitions platform.