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How to keep your new IT hires from jumping ship

Beth Stackpole | June 24, 2013
IT-specific onboarding programs help savvy companies bring new hires into the fold and keep them there. Here are their best practices.

While Steelcase has a formal HR onboarding program, but not one specific to IT, Krestakos says his department has initiatives in place to guard against turnover and to immerse technology employees in the company's strategic objectives and culture. An IT internship program, coordinated at the corporate level, exposes participants to company leaders, acquaints them with all aspects of the business and includes real work assignments, Krestakos explains. As part of this program, Steelcase recruits anywhere from 10 to 15 IT interns each summer, hiring between two and three permanently per year, he says.

Another piece of Steelcase's de facto IT onboarding strategy is to send certain new employees off to work at another location, potentially overseas, to give them a global picture of Steelcase. Depending on their role and which business experts they'll be working with, employees participate in anything from a two-week trip to a six-month assignment.

"We've learned that it's a more effective way to get people up to speed faster and it's got the added benefit of being viewed positively by employees," Krestakos explains. "It helps them understand our architecture, the processes we work to, and it helps in relationship building."

At International Paper (IP), a rotational job experience is a major part of the onboarding plan for its IT-bound college recruits, according to Jeffrey Mayhew, the company's program manager for global HR transformation. Above and beyond the generic corporate onboarding program that covers basic company ethics and corporate vision, incoming graduates taking IT positions are funneled through a three-year cycle in which they participate in two to three rotations where, optimally, they gain equal exposure to IP's information management, process management and business management strategies.

"The idea is to give individuals broad exposure to all functions of IT to see how it's interconnected and to set them up to be a future leader in the organization," Mayhew says. IP also makes sure the group (usually between 10 and 20 employees) bonds together, using social activities like sports events and joint participation in community service as ways to foster operation as a team. "In today's challenging world of recruitment, it's important that we keep people once they come in the door and not turn them over again and again," Mayhew says.

IT onboarding checklist
Thinking of starting up a program to keep your new hires happy and productive? Practitioners advise you to consider including:

  • Q&A with the CIO or other high-level tech manager
  • Overview of company culture and business strategy
  • Analysis of the competitive landscape
  • Breakdown of roles within the IT organization
  • Deep dive into future technology goals
  • Outline of potential career paths for tech employees
  • Rotational program to cycle employees through appropriate business units
  • "Buddy system" to pair new hires with seasoned IT employees
  • Extracurricular bonding opportunities like sports events or community service
  • Overseas travel as appropriate to build and reinforce global teams


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