There’s a lot of noise about talent. Where to find it, how to attract it, hire it and keep it. Everyone’s talking about great talent because that’s what makes your company awesome. Having great people equals success.

But in the middle of all that noise is the bridge that gaps finding the talent and keeping it—onboarding.

It’s taken HR and managers a lot of time and energy—sifting through resumes, doing loads of interviews, finding the person with the right skills who will be a good fit—to narrow it down to one person. But you finally did it, and your offer was accepted!

On day one, you have your new hire standing before you, equal parts excited and nervous about being there. What some companies don’t realize is that they’re not done recruiting yet. Yes, your new hire is there, ready to start working, but you need to be recruiting well into your new hire’s first few months.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, how much do you want to keep your new hire?

We at BambooHR just completed a study about onboarding and want to share what we learned. We surveyed over 1,000 people about their experiences starting new jobs and what was most important to them. A startling 31 percent of respondents had quit a job within six months of starting it. What’s more, a steady stream of employees left from the first week all the way up to the third month. (From one week to three months, the exit rate consistently hovered at 16-17 percent.) So what can explain this outward flowing movement?

It seems many new hires aren’t fully invested when they start a new job. From the individual respondents’ personal comments, we realized the following scenarios were often happening:

1. The grass seemed greener elsewhere. Your new hire was actively looking for a job, and your company was probably not the only company (s)he interviewed with. Your new hire may still be getting offers from interviews that occurred before they accepted your offer (and well, the offers are sometimes higher).

2. They were still kind of looking. Lots of people suffer from buyer’s remorse. If you think your new hires don’t suffer the same type of self-doubt about a job, you’re kidding yourself (especially in the first several weeks when there’s so much information to take in and they don’t really know anyone yet). Have you ever checked a store to see if the price was lowered on something you paid full price for? A new hire may go back to check on that other job they turned down or, out of habit, may still be checking the job listings to make sure a better job opening didn’t just pop up.

3. They were still deciding on a career path. Our research shows that a vast majority of people who quit jobs in the first six months left entry-level (43 percent) or intermediate (38 percent) positions. And 28 percent of respondents who quit early “decided the work was something [they] didn’t want to do anymore.” They weren’t really sure what they wanted to do when they accepted your offer.

So what do you have control over?
When a new hire leaves quickly, it feels like a lot of wasted time and money. We’ve all heard some of the startling numbers associated with faulty hiring, and the latest trend where companies are offering not-quite-right employees large sums of money to quit are, well, just cutting their losses.

Even though those scenarios seem out of your control, are they really?

You might be surprised to find you can do more than you realize. So what did those same respondents say would have helped them stay?

· 23 percent of respondents said, “receiving clear guidelines to what my responsibilities were.”
· 21 percent said they wanted “more effective training.”
· 17 percent said, “a friendly smile or helpful coworker would have made all the difference.”
· 12 percent said they wanted to be “recognized for [their] unique contributions.”
· 9 percent said they wanted more attention from the “manager and coworkers.”

You know what? Those are a lot of things your company can control!

One important way to start things off right with your new hire is to keep recruiting. Think about it: What kind of things do you do in the recruiting phase? First, companies spend lots of money trying to position their companies as a place where people want to work—with billboards, visiting conferences and job fairs, and doing sponsorships. Some create recruiting videos, all trying to make people want to come work there. So, why should that stop? Especially now when you’re even more invested in your hire.

onboardingAnother thing you should be doing is making sure the new hire feels valued and that everyone in your company is excited (s)he’s there. After all, you don’t know how many job offers your new hire may have turned down to accept yours. Go out of your way to make sure your new hire is comfortable, has the tools (s)he needs, knows where to be when and has a soft place to ask questions. And make sure your new hire knows how valuable their contribution will be!

One good idea is to buddy up your new hire with a seasoned employee (or mentor) who truly cares about the new hire and can answer questions—even the silly little ones people feel intimidated to ask a boss. In fact, our survey showed that a whopping 56 percent of respondents thought assigning “an employee ‘buddy’ or mentor” was one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.

While you want to get your new hire ramped up and productive quickly, it’s also important to make sure you provide on-the-job training in a manageable flow. Remember that it’s hard to start out at any job. There’s a lot to learn. Your new hire doesn’t know many people and there’re a lot of ins-and-outs to get. Reviewing and giving thoughtful feedback on your new hire’s early contributions is also important at the beginning (47 percent of respondents thought so).

And new hires don’t really want HR to guide them through those first weeks on a new job. 33 percent of new hires said they wanted their manager or direct supervisor to be the one to show them the ropes.

And if you think offering up a free lunch or a box of donuts can help work it all out, don’t count on it. Less than 1 percent of respondents said “more free food and perks” would make them stay.

So yes, there are things you can do to help the chances of keeping your new hires. And if they’re feeling valued and “invested in” from the very beginning, they won’t be easily pulled away if another offer factors in or another company comes calling.

You see, when an employee leaves, s(he) loses very little. In fact, that week- or month-long stint at your company doesn’t even have to go on the resume so it won’t show up as a job hop. Your company, on the other hand, has a lot more to lose. You have already invested a lot of time and effort and if they leave—for whatever reason—then you have to start the process all over again.

For more detailed information on this onboarding study, check out the survey summary here.