The Best Retention Policy Is a Good Onboarding Policy

With unemployment at long-time lows, retaining talented employees is a top concern among employers, but many fail to realize that the right retention strategy begins before the new employee even walks through the door. In today’s hiring climate, a welcoming onboarding experience is essential to employee retention.

That is why Express Employment Professionals has laid out the four critical components for keeping good workers right from the start – the Four C’s of Onboarding:

  1. Company – Helping the employee understand the company’s mission, goals, policies, customers, organizational structure, and how their job fits into the big picture.
  2. Connection – Helping the employee build relationships and information networks with colleagues.
  3. Culture – Ensuring that the new hire understands the company’s values, beliefs, and environment and how they can thrive in that environment.
  4. Career – Mapping out the employee’s personal objectives and how they are measured and realized, as well as setting out expectations for success and advancement.


Express provides these and other onboarding insights as part of its “Engage to Retain” initiative.

Jan Riggins, general manager of two Forth Worth, Texas, Express franchise locations, explains that employers must have a well thought out onboarding plan.

“Bringing a new person into your organization is no time to wing it. Consider creating a written plan that you can reference for all new hires,” she advises.

She observes that a “mentor system,” is valuable but often missing from employers’ onboarding process.

Mike Brady, the Express West Jacksonville franchise owner in Florida, agrees. Assigning a mentor/trainer is a missing step he says.

“Most of the time, it is just straight to work with no introduction to the team or talk about culture, values, team vision or safety,” he said. “Companies that understand turnover costs, in terms of time and money, and that are willing to spend more or do more to retain employees, will save money and boost production.”

Shane DeCoste, an Express franchise owner in Halifax, Nova Scotia, explains the importance of an onboarding plan.

“Onboarding is frequently overlooked as a key element of employee retention,” he said. “The labor market is tight, and employers spend a lot of time and resources in attracting qualified talent. Proper onboarding protects the investment employers make by ensuring that a new employee becomes properly exposed to their new work environment, its team members, culture and vision and values.  This can only happen through a dedicated onboarding program.”

Jessica Culo, an Express franchise owner in Edmonton, Alberta, agrees.

“After just their first day on the job, a new employee has determined whether the people and company are a great fit, or they are concerned with the company culture and may not feel like part of the team. The onboarding process is critical, and one of the biggest determinants of whether or not the person will stay in their new role.”

Crystal Lake, Illinois, Express franchise owner Terri Greeno also recommends a mentor and adds that personal touches can go a long way. She recommends, a “clean, well-supplied, organized desk with business cards, a living plant and a note from the owner.”

Another common mistake is thinking that onboarding occurs only on the first day or two.

“We must stay with them for weeks or months constantly reinforcing their decision to join the company,” said Janis Petrini, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Express franchise owner.

Express Oklahoma Regional Director Tracy Underwood recommends “constant follow-up.”

“This is an employee market and will be for quite some time,” she also notes. “There will always be some turnover. But that shouldn’t deter people from investing in onboarding and retention. We work hard to retain employees knowing that even if they leave us, they’ll speak highly of the environment we created if we’ve been successful in the onboarding and retention effort process.”

First impressions are everything, agrees Express CEO Bill Stoller.

“If an employee’s first week or first month is spent fumbling their way through a new job and new company without any help, they won’t feel like part of the team, and soon they will be looking for an exit,” he said. “But if a company invests in them, they are far more likely to be invested in that company for the long haul.”

About Bill Stoller

William H. “Bill” Stoller is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 800 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Since its inception, Express has put more than 7.7 million people to work worldwide.

About Express Employment Professionals

Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.56 billion in sales and employed a record 566,000 people in 2018. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. For more information, visit

One Response to The Best Retention Policy Is a Good Onboarding Policy

  1. Rachel January 6, 2021 at 10:52 am #

    It’s always a little “shocking” to be reminded of how much the lack of proper onboarding can cost companies millions of dollars in the long run. And while I think most people understand that properly training new hires is important, I don’t think some business owners realize just how important it is. I loved the four C’s you laid out (company, connection, culture, career) and the concept of mentoring new employees is brilliant. I know from personal experience that the difference between having someone you feel comfortable going to with questions after you’ve made mistakes, versus someone who you fear, can make all the difference. The company I currently work for creates an amazing onboarding experience that combines mentorship and onboarding training that’s accessible via new employee onboarding software, and I’ve found that this a great way to combine some of those C’s that you mentioned as it offers a great mix of connection and materials that focus on company and culture. I also found Jan’s “Engage to Retain” information (from the link you provided) really beneficial and liked that she further drove home the point that mentorships are highly valuable. Thanks for the information, Bill.

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