Don’t Let New Hires Walk Out the Door

Utilizing assessments at any juncture of an employee’s life cycle can provide companies with valuable insights. But new hire assessments can be particularly beneficial in the effort to retain talent because problems reported by employees early on are, for the most part, fixable.

“Utilizing new hire surveys is a way you can assess the hire — how they’re doing, said Beth N. Carvin, CEO of Nobscot Corp., a provider of exit interview management software. “Are they going to fit in? Do they meet the expectations? Are they getting the training that they need? Are they fitting in with the group?”

For example, one of Carvin’s clients in health care was experiencing high turnover among new hires in its pharmacy division. Assessments revealed a lack of sufficient training to be the culprit — this was severely frustrating new hires. The solution was obvious — a stronger training program in the pharmacy division.

Surveying the Supervisors
Conducting what are known as “quality of hire” surveys — a relatively new breed of assessment that involves surveying the supervisors of new hires — in conjunction with new hire surveys can paint a more holistic picture for employers. Quality of hire surveys are taken by supervisors of the new hires to gauge whether certain employees are, or are moving toward being, high potentials.

“Do they have the skills you thought they had? Are they picking up on the training as quickly as they should relative to other people? How quickly are they becoming productive? Are they fitting in with the team? These are the kinds of things that, if asked, a supervisor can quantify,” Carvin said.

Enabling supervisors to rate their new hires on these types of factors can provide companies with insights into their overall recruiting process. “We can start to see in different departments, in different divisions, in different types of positions — where is the breakdown? Where are our high-potential employees coming from? What is the recruiting source? Who is the recruiter? Is it the internal recruiter? Is it the external recruiter? Who’s the hiring manager?” Carvin said.

In addition to identifying potential problems, the objective of the assessment is to recognize positive factors that could be replicated. For example, if a number of high-potential employees are traced back to a particular recruiting source, it would behoove talent leaders to expand on and leverage that source going forward.

According to Carvin, whereas companies will typically conduct new hire surveys around the employees’ 45- or 90-day mark, there isn’t really a consensus on when to do them, as this concept is still relatively new. That said, many companies zero in on the 60-day mark.

Getting Rid of Guesswork
Ed Chaffin, founder and president of The Human Capital Initiative, a human capital consulting firm, explained that one way companies are using new hire assessments is to determine the impact an individual would have on a team.

“You can have a pretty good indicator of what would happen if [someone] were added to the team because you’ve got a profile of the team via an assessment, and you can profile [the individual] and say, ‘Here’s what we think, with a high degree of accuracy, will happen,” Chaffin said. “You look for the strengths that [individual] brings to the team and you look for what could potentially go wrong.”

One of the assessments Chaffin used to determine new hire fit when he was an executive at Talx Corp., a talent assessment firm, was the Birkman personality assessment. Asking questions such as, “Is someone more of a systems process person?’ or “Do they make quick decisions?” can help determine if someone would be a good fit on a particular team, he said.

Whereas organizations in the past may have had to rely on guesswork in terms of creating and implementing HR programs and strategies, business decisions today are primarily driven by evidence.
“Think about HR in the past, Carvin said. “We used to get together in a conference room and say, ‘OK we want to work on retention; what are we going to do?’ You’d brainstorm ideas, but it would be based sort of on guessing. ‘We’ll provide doughnuts on Fridays, see what that does,’” Carvin said.

“Today business leaders demand that you’re basing your actions … on real data rather than guessing,” she said. “Assessments fit in because that’s a way you can start to gather some of the data that will tell us what direction we should be going in.”

Deanna Hartley is an associate editor at Talent Management magazine. She can be reached at