6 Retention Tactics for New Hires

Want to make sure your new hires stick around? Check out these six retention tactics that have been proven to work in blue-collar industries.

Danielle Riha
February 25, 2022

Faced with today’s competitive labor market, companies simply can’t afford to lose the new employees they bring on. Not only are there limited options for replacements, it’s also a drain on resources to turn over employees within the first 30 or 60 days after you’ve invested in interviewing, onboarding, and training.

Randy Goruk, of Leaders Edge 360, points out that companies who provide their employees with solid leadership have the most success in retaining employees.

“Good quality leadership is the key, such as creating an atmosphere of trust, treating everyone fairly, being consistent, ensuring effective communication, and having every employee feel their job is important and that they make a difference.”

Randy’s right. If we’ve learned anything from The Great Resignation, it’s that employees are no longer interested in having a purely transactional relationship with their employer. They want more than just a paycheck in exchange for their time and energy.

To dig in a little deeper, we once again turned to consultants and business coaches in blue-collar industries to ask them for specific retention tactics they’ve seen lead to success in retention of new hires. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Be quick with job offers, start dates and onboarding.

When job searching, many candidates—especially those in blue-collar industries—accept the first offer they receive. That’s why our intelligent hiring assistant is so effective, and why Mike Raymer makes offers at the end of interviews.

Mike Raymer, Staffing, Recruiting and Retention Consultant (Gray Wolf Strategies)

If you are interviewing folks that specialize in the trades, make offers and onboard candidates as quickly as possible. I believe in transparency. If you like a candidate, let them know by making an offer at the end of their interview. I personally feel it’s completely acceptable to negotiate pay and have them fill out paperwork right there and then. Too many hiring managers lose on good candidates simply because they don’t make an offer or onboard fast enough.

2. Have a written onboarding/training plan.

This demonstrates that the new team member is not an afterthought. It shows that you are excited for them to start, that you have given a lot of thought to how they can contribute to the company, and want to set them up for success.

David Krysh, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Bruce Wilson & Company)

A lot of companies overlook “pre-boarding.” The onboarding process shouldn’t start on their first day at work. It should start on that day of acceptance. Do something early on to make them feel like a part of the team. If they accept the job in person, for example, send them home with a company shirt. This will help prevent them ghosting you in the future, or from taking other offers that may come up before their start date with you. Also schedule time before the first day to get your HR paperwork completed with them, again to remain connected and make their first day on the job more productive meeting people and  to the culture.

Jeffrey Scott, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Jeffrey Scott Consulting, Inc.)

The key to onboarding is consistency. The company leadership must be dedicated to the onboarding process over a two-month period. Out of that process, the most important part is the first two days where the new employee is made to feel like one of the team, is shown the ropes, meets all the key people, learns the special rules of the game, and is shown both the big picture mission and vision for the company, as well as all the details related to employment and their job.

Assuming you have done a decent job of screening the candidate, then these first two days will set the stage for engaging the new employee. As my friend Todd Pugh does, after the first two days, you can offer the candidate $200 to not take the job and leave right away. Better to find out how they’re feeling now, than to have them quit on you in two weeks, right?

Gloria Strauthers, Cleaning Industry Consultant (Exodus Management and Consulting)

There is no one size fits all onboarding process. Studies show that 5% of new employees quit immediately after a calamitous first day. Onboarding should be broken down into different aspects over a period of days that include these aspects:

  • Operational: make sure that new employees have the proper resources and how to access knowledge
  • Social: make new employees feel welcome and build and promote beneficial relationships.
  • Strategic: ensure that new employees know the organization (structure, vision, mission, culture)
  • Training: ensure they have an accurate job description and adequate job training to identify weaknesses and coaching opportunities.

Training is the most important aspect of onboarding and having adequate time to do so. I'd say two-three weeks minimum as to not overwhelm the new employee. It gives them instructional time and application time with the opportunity to identify areas of weakness. This will allow them the opportunity to pivot before being placed on the performance wheel of expectations.

Tammy Vasquez, Senior Head Coach (Business Development Resources, Inc.)

Have a written onboarding process that clearly outlines the new team member’s training agenda for the first 30 days. The agenda should include lots of job-shadowing or mini-presentations from managers the new team member might be working with in the future. Make sure you specify where the new team member should be on each day, who they will be working with, and what they will learn. This 30-day agenda should also include a weekly lunch or breakfast with a specific team or department that the new team member will be working with.

Most importantly, within the first couple of days, host an intensive culture 101 session where the company mission, vision, and values are discussed and trained on. This session could be led by the owner or a couple of long-time team members—anyone who is deemed as a “culture keeper” of the company.

3. Assign new hires an internal mentor or “buddy” to help them learn job duties & company culture.

Most new hires want to learn their job quickly, fit into the culture, and be liked by their fellow colleagues. Pairing them with an experienced team member to show them the ropes and answer their questions can help the new hire achieve all of these goals faster and more enjoyably.

Scott Molchan, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Million Dollar Landscaper)

Assigning new employees a mentor early on in the onboarding process is a great way to take some of the onboarding off the owner’s plate. Mentors can explain the daily ins and outs of how things are done, it gives the new hire someone to answer their questions, and helps them automatically feel like they are part of the team.

Mike Raymer, Staffing, Recruiting and Retention Consultant (Gray Wolf Strategies)

It is important to assign a mentor to each new hire if possible. Remember, mentors are not necessarily managers; they can be a co-worker or group of co-workers. Mentors should be your most positive—and typically your most loyal—employees.

Jeffrey Scott, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Jeffrey Scott)

Give employees a “mentor” in the company—someone they can turn to who looks out for them and shows them the ropes. This can be their boss, but it can also be a different employee who is good at mentoring. This cements both the mentor and the mentee to your company.

4. Schedule regular check-ins with a manager.

Actions speak louder than words, so show your new hire just how much they mean to you by taking time out of your day to talk to them at the end of their first day, first week, and first month.

Neal Glatt, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Grow the Bench)

There is simply no substitute for having weekly one-on-one meetings with each direct report. Unfortunately, most managers are too busy doing work to actually spend time with their people.  We need to form real, personal connections with our people. I dedicate an hour per week to each employee I work with and structure conversations around what they desire for professional and personal growth. Separate meetings happen for skills training, project management, and accountability conversations.

Jack Jostes, host of The Landscaper’s Guide Podcast and CEO of Ramblin Jackson

Have a weekly check-in with your employees during their first 30 days (at least) and keep in touch with them ongoing. I have interviewed some of the employees of my clients and have found in my own business that having regular, scheduled 1:1 conversations with direct reports is critical to retention. You need to meet with people, hear how they’re doing, coach them, and make adjustments as needed. Waiting for an “annual” review is too long of a wait. I recommend doing employee coaching sessions at least quarterly and help make your employees feel safe to voice frustrations and concerns.

Kelly Dowell, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Keldo Digital)

A great retention strategy is developing coaching and growth plans for employees. Schedule regular coaching conversations to learn about what they want to do and where they want to go. Showing them that career path and giving them the tools to get there (certifications, classes, training, books, etc.) will go a long way in keeping employees engaged.

Bahaa Moukadam, Business Coach (SeeMetrics Partners)

Taking an active interest in understanding career goals and providing the opportunity for on-going learning, development and advancement are important factors for engagement and retention. Ongoing, frequent, clear, and transparent conversations should happen, especially in the early weeks and months of joining the organization.

Gloria Strauthers, Cleaning Industry Consultant (Exodus Management and Consulting)

Regularly check in with new hires to ascertain if they are happy with their roles, development plans, and compensation packages. Don't just wait till the 90-day window to have this conversation. Have a C-suite member schedule time every quarter to meet with new hires to ask questions and voice concerns without a supervisor present but rather an HR member as a facilitator. You'd be surprised to know how much employees value good leadership. You can quickly intervene to coach managers and leaders who are not living up to your organization's expectations and who fail to execute the company’s vision. New hires can quickly lose loyalty – and thus, the organization can lose valuable employees.

David Krysh, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Bruce Wilson & Company)

I schedule a series of meetings I call “The Firsts,” which consists of a one-on-one meeting at the end of the first day, first week, first month and first 90 days. Not formal job review, but a personal check-in about how they feel about the new company and adjustment. Schedule these meetings with your new hire on their very first day.

5. Create an environment where new hires feel comfortable asking questions at all levels of the organization.

Psychological safety is crucial for employee satisfaction in their job. That means being empowered to share feedback, opinions, and ideas without fear of being shut down, made to feel stupid, or in jeopardy of losing their job.

Bart Gragg, Construction Industry Consultant (Blue Collar University)

The most important part of onboarding a new employee is making them feel welcomed and safe. That’s done by being prepared for them, making time for them when they walk through the door. But the process doesn’t stop there.

Set the stage for an employee to feel safe enough to say, "I don't understand – can you help me?" When companies hire or promote people, their manager or HR will say to them, "Here’s your work area – call me if you have any questions.” But they won’t call because, in their mind, you put them there to do the job - you believe they already have what it takes to handle anything, right? Nothing is further from the truth, especially to a person new to a position.

Mike Raymer, Staffing, Recruiting and Retention Consultant (Gray Wolf Strategies)

Give new team members a clear communication path to leadership. Building a communication funnel with new hires makes sure they don’t feel forgotten in their earliest days. A good way to do this is to create a workflow or business process that gives all new hires access to multiple people within your leadership team so they can get every question or concern addressed without feeling like a burden.

Randy Goruk, Construction Industry Consultant (Leaders Edge 360)

Having unstructured time with senior leadership is an important part of the onboarding process. A lunch where the new employee can get to know the senior leaders, ask questions, listen to inspiring stories, and learn where the company is headed. Hearing this first hand demonstrates the leader cares.

6. Acknowledge wins and celebrate important dates—no matter how big or small.

Beyond the paycheck, employees want to know that you know that they’re killing it. Recognition doesn’t always need to be extravagant; a simple message of acknowledgement can go a long way.

Kelly Dowell, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Keldo Digital)

Use social media and internal communications to celebrate wins, whether it’s employee anniversaries, birthdays or promotions. You can post a sign if you want, but I think the text messaging feature from Team Engine is great for celebrating wins because employees get the text that morning, then they can give that person a fist bump at the daily huddle later that day.

Going back to what Randy said at the top, all of these tactics for new hire retention certainly fall under the umbrella of “good quality leadership,” which largely boils down to quick, transparent, and consistent communication.

With new hire retention under control, it's time to shift focus to your veteran employees, who also need your ongoing attention and guidance—just at a different level.

If these tactics seem out of reach for your organization, or if you’re seeking to amplify your employee communication efforts, sign up for our email newsletter for more insights, tips, and tricks on employee retention.

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