Given today’s hot job market for architecture and design professionals, many architecture firms are exceptionally focused on how they can adjust their incentives packages to attract marquee talent. But, they seem to be missing out on one of the most important talent acquisition and management best practices out there. The firms that have a well-developed orientation process which carefully and deliberately on-boards their new hires, are enjoying high retention rates and employee satisfaction and better over-all performance company-wide. It’s a competitive edge that few firms can afford to overlook.

How You On-Board Your New Hires Will Affect Your Bottom Line

According to an Aberdeen survey conducted in 2013, organizations with established employee orientation initiatives are able to “drive business outcomes, including accelerated productivity and improved retention, when they are aligned with learning and development.” More specifically, the businesses in the survey saw a 50% increase in employee retention rates, since the new employee orientation program was used as a means to reaffirm the new hire’s decision to join the organization and ensure a long term commitment.

With the war for talent in architecture and interior design going strong, the need to attract, retain, and develop talent has become all the more important. There is also the flip side: employee turnover can get costly. Some of these costs are direct, such as the time and money needed to find and train a replacement. Other costs are harder to measure. A low retention rate can consume mental resources, dampen employee morale and can lead to a loss in revenue opportunities. Plus, departing employees may join a competing firm, bringing all of their skills and experience with them.

Part of the reason why on-boarding new employees falls flat is that new employee orientation is considered to be solely an HR initiative. But firms should really be looking at it as a company-wide opportunity to catapult new hires into a path of high-performance and high-growth.

On-Boarding Your New Hires the Right Way

But, not all employee orientation initiatives are created equal. The most successful ones tend to have following three elements in place:

  1. There are clearly communicated expectations and a clear path to career development. The firms that on-board new hires the right way are very clear about where they are trying to go and how they are going to get there. They also emphasize and value career development- a process that starts the minute new hires show up to work.
  2. The new hire is actively brought into the firm. Instead of being left to fend for themselves after the initial round of introductions has ended, new hires regularly meet with designated employees during the first few days on the job to answer any questions that come up about the work, the department, or the firm. Later on, many of these firms pair up the new hire with a dedicated mentor.
  3. There is continual, actionable feedback. This last factor can make a very big difference to new hires as well as those who work directly with them. The firms with effective orientation programs make it a point to give new employees feedback on their work- both for the things that are good well as the things that may need some improvement. If the work does need some correction or improvement, then these firms openly explain to their new employees how to create a better outcome.

In short, for all the time, energy, and money that goes into attracting the best talent, firms should also be investing in the process that will help to keep these new hires both engaged and on board.