Many organizations spend a considerable amount of effort onboarding new hires and for many good reasons. Research shows that onboarding done right often leads to higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, lower turnover, higher performance levels, career effectiveness, and lowered stress.*

But often employers fail to give the same level of attention to their long-term employees. Managers assume all is well when things are quiet, and the latest year-end review went well. However, reality hits when a long-term employee walks in and hands in their resignation, seemingly out of the blue. How can organizations prevent these unexpected resignations?

One way is to have re-onboarding strategy sessions with these employees periodically. Similar to the design of the onboarding program, one could also have a re-onboarding program. Let’s look at three ways re-onboarding can help with retention:

  1. When a new hire arrives, organizations often create a huge fanfare around their arrival, essentially a red-carpet moment for the new employee. Over time, these red-carpet moments become fewer and fewer for long-term employees. But organizations should rethink these red-carpet moments and incorporate them throughout the employee’s life cycles. Circling back and periodically telling employees how happy you are to have them helps to retain them. Keeping them excited about their future, creating experiences to keep them motivated, and checking in on them every so often are great retention practices.
  2. Like with new arrivals, it helps with setting goals and creating individual development plans (IDP). With new hires, organizations often establish an IDP and develop goals for the next six months to a year, regularly tracking their progress and giving them feedback. However, with long-term employees these steps are largely ignored, focusing primarily on the year-end review. Revisiting this process can reduce stagnation and help keep their careers moving forward. Like the new hire development plan, the IDP should be forward thinking, looking at potential, and not resting solely on employees’ past achievements and experiences.
  3. Like onboarding a new hire, get to know your long-term employees’ interests. Over time, employees’ interests change and what was once vital to them may no longer be important. You may have hired them right out of college, and now they are married with children. What once was a motivator no longer motivates them. They may want time off to go to their children’s games, attend to an elderly parent, or to volunteer with their favorite charity. They may have a new career interest. Flexible schedules or telecommuting may be high on their list. Knowing their current interests can help managers personalize rewards and incentives, thus aiding in retention.

Implementing and using these onboarding best practices throughout the employee life cycle can aid in retaining your long-term employees. What are your thoughts?

*SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series, Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success