Jobvite’s annual Job Seeker Nation survey found that 34% of employees have left a job in the first 90 days at some point in their careers. Contact center attrition is painful as it is. But to lose a new hire 3 months in, you’re left looking for a replacement way too soon. You spend more time searching for and hiring new agents than taking time to actually manage your contact center and improve your team’s performance.

And for many who leave a new job early, a poor onboarding experience is the catalyst. In fact, a negative onboarding experience means your new hires are up to 2x more likely to look for other job opportunities rather than stick around.

In an SHRM article, Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of the consulting firm The Interchange Group describes how important onboarding is to help new employees feel engaged. Here’s how Amy describes onboarding:

“Onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged. It offers an imprinting window when you can make an impression that stays with new employees for the duration of their careers.”

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, The Interchange Group

To ensure your new call center employees get a good first impression of your team, we’ve put together an employee onboarding checklist for a smooth start.

Concentrate on Culture and Connection

It may not matter how much your new hire enjoys their new role. If your new agents can’t build a bond with your company culture and community, it’s going to be hard to hold onto them. From day one, it’s important for your new hire to feel like they’re part of a team and a mission.

Here’s a culture & connection checklist for the first few weeks of onboarding a new employee:

  • Send your new hires information, company swag, and welcome notes from some of your team members before they start their first day.
  • Stay in communication as soon as your new agent accepts the job offer. Reach out via email to introduce yourself, ask some get-to-know-you questions, and express how excited you are for your new agent to start.
  • Set up connections with other teammates — virtually or in person — to socialize during the first few weeks. Use the Donut app or the RandomCoffees app on Slack or Teams to pair new hires with existing team members for casual coffee chats.
  • If your new hire is local, take them out to lunch on day one and invite some of their peers, too. Send remote new hires a Doordash or Uber Eats meal and invite them to join teammates for a virtual lunch..
  • Establish a mentor buddy system to connect a new hire with a go-to person. According to Sapling HR, 87% of new hires say buddy programs boost proficiency, helping your new hires learn the ins and outs of contact center tasks with the help of a peer. With a mentor, new employees make a friend and have someone else to ask for help, so they depend on their peers instead of always seeking your help.

Set Up New Hires on All Technology

Back in college, I took a summer job that made me use Slack, email, a call center platform, and an internal documentation system simultaneously. I was so overwhelmed by the new technology in the first week, I couldn’t even begin to think about the other aspects of my role.

Every company has its own IT setup and a unique set of communication channels and processes. As you create an onboarding checklist for each new call center employee, link up your agents and your IT team.

Use these tasks to get your new hires familiar with your call center tech:

  • On day one, set up a meeting between your new hires and your IT team so they can walk new employees through their accounts on all platforms. Walk through security standards and make sure any devices they need — laptop, phone, desktop computer — are accessible and ready to go.
  • In the first week, offer extensive training on each of the technology platforms and how your team uses them.
  • Document and define your communication standards and culture in a place where all new and current employees can easily access them.
  • Give your new call center agent practice tasks in which they must communicate within your team and with other teams in the company. This way, they can practice using the appropriate channels for certain kinds of communication.

Set Clear Goals and Guidelines

Being the new guy or gal at a company is disorienting. You’re learning a whole new product, system, service, technology, culture… the list goes on. It’s so hard to gauge how you measure up against expectations without a clear sense of benchmarks and goals.

Set goals and development plans for your agents early on, so they know performance expectations and get a clear view of how they can progress with your company.

Here’s a checklist of goal-setting guidelines for onboarding every new employee:

  • On day one, take time with each new hire to talk about personal development goals and dreams. Find out what your new employee hopes to gain from the job so you know immediately how to support them in their career.
  • Nothing is quite as discouraging as starting a new position and realizing everything you read and learned in the first week is outdated. To keep guidelines clear, make sure your onboarding training and documentation is up-to-date, easy to find, and engaging.
  • In the first week, sit down and establish specific goals and milestones your new hire should reach each week of onboarding. Don’t stop after week one. Map out the progress they should make every week for the first month so they know how they measure up.
  • When setting goals, involve your agent and help them see how you and your team will help to guide them in meeting those goals. The coaching company Braverly found that new hires leave companies when they feel they have unrealistic expectations. Ensure your new hire knows how you’ll support them with coaching and training as they reach goals, and when they miss them, too.
  • Give new employees access to their performance data as soon as they start taking interactions. Share employee dashboards with your new agents on a daily basis. Or, use a tool like Sharpen’s Performance Tiles to share three key metrics with agents and show them their progress toward those metris after every interaction.

Provide Space for Learning, Discussion, Questions, and Feedback

During employee onboarding, it’s important your new agents don’t feel isolated as they learn. New hires should know right away how to get help, ask questions, and give feedback. As you onboard, set up specific times during the first 30-days for your new employees to process their experience, and share thoughts on how it’s going.

Carve out time in your new employee onboarding for these feedback & discussion checklist items:

  • In the first 2-3 weeks, sit down for 1:1 training and discussion with your new agents. Perhaps add time for new employees to discuss processes with some of the other teammates. This will keep things varied, but also give consistent education through the early weeks.
  • Set aside a time at the end of every day, like a daily standup meeting, for new employees to ask questions for the first few weeks of onboarding.
  • Give feedback as you train your new hire. Don’t be harsh, but make sure they know how they’re fairing and where they need to improve, so it doesn’t come as a shock down the road.
  • Give new hires some time each day to work independently, especially in the first couple weeks. They need space to soak in new info, apply learning, and take notes. Don’t assume they can consume and apply all the new information they’re learning on the spot.
  • Halfway through your 30 days of onboarding, send your new hire a survey to fill out. Give them the opportunity to give you and your HR team feedback on their experience onboarding so you can gauge how they’re feeling early on.

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