More than a “welcome to the company,” an engaging onboarding program sets the stage for your new hire to hit the ground running. Whether you have one or five new employees, a sound, well-designed onboarding program creates compelling motivation for you—and your new hire—to get the most from this stage in the work lifecycle.
Why is onboarding important?
In an increasingly mobile workforce, job transition is common. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 the average length of time most employees had been with their current employer was just over four years. As we have discussed, Millennial workers generally expect to stay at a job for less than 3 years. These trends amplify the need for a good institutional onboarding experience.
While orientation to your firm involves showing new employees the ropes and filling out the right forms, a thoughtful onboarding program does more. Onboarding is your chance to create the best possible environment for your new talent. With the right moves, you can reduce administrative costs, boost engagement, and accelerate the productivity of new workers.
Onboarding best practices
Each business—and position—has its own expectations. While the characteristics of your workplace may call for specialized safety, technological, or other training, there are basic features of a good onboarding program that transfer well across HR environments. A report from the Aberdeen Group estimated workers make a decision about whether to stay at a company within their first six months of employment.
At day one, the clock is ticking. Consider these suggestions for creating a dynamic, multi-mode onboarding process:
- Readiness: Ensure your onboarding software is flexible enough to create custom and standard forms. Be sure your new hire receives only the forms, and data, they need for their position. Burying new employees under paperwork intended for those in a different job is a sure sign you are not paying attention. Know and understand your onboarding plan.
- Make it personal: It can take new hires upwards of a year to gain the social and technical proficiency needed to deliver the productivity rate you need. Give your new talent their best chance to assimilate into your company culture by reaching out prior to their first day. Include a personal note, along with the formal job offer and employee handbook, in your welcome packet. Follow up with a phone call or email.
Onboarding begins with your job advertisement and continues throughout the recruiting cycle. There is a good chance your employee checked out your brand before they applied, so be sure your website is informative and accessible. Onboarding is smoother when new hires have a level of confidence before they receive their identification badge. Individual attention makes anybody feel valued—and is likely to increase satisfaction and company loyalty.
- Prepare for onboarding: Onboarding includes preparation within the company for your new hire. Use email, intranet, or a newsletter to let employees and team members learn of their incoming associate. Create and supply an appropriate work space. Develop an itinerary and recruit a first-day mentor to help throughout the onboarding process.
- Company first, job second: Upon arrival, give new hires a sense of the legacy and purpose of your business or organization. Acquaint them with important history and milestones you achieved. Give them an opportunity to tour your facility and meet as many higher level managers as possible. Make lunch arrangements within the department, or team, where your new hire is located. This top-down approach offers your new hire a chance to learn about the culture of your company—not just tasks expected of him or her.
- Job clarity: Be sure your new hire has a one-on-one opportunity to meet with their manager, to learn specific expectations, discuss their learning style, career goals, and direction. Sharing business goals gives employee and employer the chance to move forward together, and gives new workers an understanding of the training and career development they can expect from your firm.
Onboarding does not end on the first day of work
High quality onboarding programs continue for several months after hire. When the onboarding process concludes, be sure to engage your employee in an evaluation of your onboarding process. During the first months of employment, check-in with your employee to ensure they receive needed support and are aware of social and training opportunities available to them within the company.
Use feedback to engage primary managers and stakeholders in an ongoing conversation about the ways to improve your onboarding program.
Proactive onboarding increases employee satisfaction, workforce stability, and decreases the high cost of turnover. Stay relevant in your market space—and your talent pool—by increasing engagement through excellence in onboarding.