To Retain New Hires, Make Sure You Meet with Them in Their First Week

Curated by Paul Helmick

I’m a Technology CEO and Experienced Entrepreneur. I love helping people use technology to grow their business.

  • Microsoft, lacked a good way to measure the perceptions of its onboarding experience, conducted research to better understand what it thought of as “early attrition
  • Microsoft learned that the most important factor was that employees who met with their manager one-on-one during their first week were more likely to develop strong internal networks, had more-productive meetings, and were more collaborative than those who did not
  • First impressions in the workplace really matter — and not just to the employer
  • New employees can begin to formulate impressions about organizations from the get-go, influencing their decision to stay with the company in the long term
  • Poor onboarding experiences can lead to unnecessary and preventable turnover, the cost of which can be as much as twice the employee’s annual salary
  • Microsoft created a survey and reached out to new hires after their first week and then again after 90 days to learn about new hires’ experiences and first impressions of Microsoft
  • They learned that the little things matter most to new hires — like having a working computer and immediate access to the building, email, and the intranet on day one
  • Skim over the three key insights in the full article below to see the 2x impact that they were able to create by doing first-week onboarding in an exceptional way.

Delving deeper, we wanted to understand how their early behaviors impact the engagement of approximately 3,000 new hires. By partnering with Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics division, we matched anonymous calendar and email metadata with (equally anonymous) engagement data. Statements we used to gauge engagement included “I feel proud to work for Microsoft” and “I expect to work for Microsoft for __ years.”

We learned that it’s critical for a new employee to have a one-on-one meeting with their manager during their first week. Those who did saw early growth in three key areas.

First, they tended to have a 12% larger internal network and double network centrality (the influence that people in an employee’s network have) within 90 days. This is important because employees who grow their internal network feel that they belong and may stay at the company longer. For example, employees who engage internally intend to stay at a rate that’s 8% higher on our intent-to-stay measure. They also report a stronger sense of belonging on their team while maintaining their authentic self.

Second, they had higher-quality meetings. Higher-quality meetings have fewer declines, fewer layers of management in attendance, fewer attendees who send emails during the meetings, and fewer attendees in total, and they tend to be shorter, too (one hour or less).

Third, they spent nearly three times as much time collaborating with their team as those who did not have a one-on-one. This early team collaboration is important: Employees who spend more time collaborating have higher favorability about belonging on team than those who don’t, and they tend to report having higher-quality meetings.

These and other insights are helping us shine a spotlight on the employee experience and guide us on where to adjust to make a new hire’s experience even better. And this is just the beginning at Microsoft. We are now experimenting with other ways to improve the onboarding experience, with a focus on the new employees’ network — particularly when the manager works in a different location.

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to this: Don’t underestimate the power of having a one-on-one during a person’s first week. That sounds obvious, but it could be the most important connection for the new employee to make.