If you're in any type of management role, I have an important question for you: Do you have an onboarding process for new employees?

I ask because having effective onboarding is crucial to the success of new hires. For so many companies, onboarding unfortunately stops at orientation, when all paperwork is signed, badges are handed out, and HR goes over the employee handbook.

What we're talking about here is a process of fully ingraining your employee into the company culture that can extend 3 to 9 months after a hire date, sometimes even longer.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Sound crazy? Well, research by the Aberdeen Group, published in their benchmark report, "All Aboard: Effective Onboarding Techniques and Strategies," found that a typical employee's mind isn't made up about staying or leaving a new company until month six! In fact, it may take eight to 12 months for new hires to be as proficient as their tenured colleagues. That's why your onboarding is so crucial to their success.

BambooHR, an HR technology company in Utah, conducted a 2014 study of over 1,000 employees and asked what was most important in starting a new job. Here are some of their sobering findings:

  • Over 32 percent of new hires have had barely any onboarding, or none at all.
  • Twenty-one percent of employees who left in the first six months said their reason for leaving was they weren't "given the training [they] needed."
  • Between 16-17 percent of the respondents left between the first week and the third month of starting their new job.
  • Fifteen percent of respondents noted that lack of an effective onboarding process has contributed to them quitting or considering quitting a job.

Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, tells the Society for Human Resources Management, "The average company is losing one in six of their new hires each month for the first three months."

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the Aberdeen Group report, 66 percent of companies with effective onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62 percent had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent reported higher employee engagement.

The 5 Questions Managers Need to Ask Themselves

To ensure that your new hires aren't jumping ship for a competitor so early on, you have to ensure a great new hire experience. Most companies with little to no budget can pull it off with ease, and they don't necessarily need fancy, formalized, programs. What it really comes down to is a servant leadership mindset of asking the right questions.

These questions, as is the case with "stay interview" questions, are meant to help managers and their new employees have honest and open conversations that trigger a response requiring action and support for the employee--to ensure they are being emotionally engaged and set up for success.

Managers, ask yourselves:

1. Do I focus my attention on new hires by personally asking if they have the materials, equipment, and access to things they need to do their work right?

2. Do I personally engage my new hires in dialogue about what motivates them within the first one or two weeks of employment?

3. Do I personally engage my new hires in "How can I help you with your professional development interests?" conversations in the first two months?

4. Do most of my employees have development plans? If so, do I discuss such plans with them periodically, one-on-one?

5. Am I actively helping my employees to identify their strengths? Am I giving them opportunities to learn and try new things?

Bringing It Home

Here's the worst-case scenario: When employees are not onboarded successfully and don't get the tools, training, time (with managers), or resources they need to do their jobs well, they get to experience low morale for the first time. As a result, they stop caring and stop trying early in the game. To counter that, use the above questions to find out if you are doing the things that lead to a great new hire experience.