As an HR manager responsible for the all-important tasks of recruiting and retention there is nothing more important than reviewing your processes yearly to see what has worked well and what has not. Because the onboarding process affects both recruiting and retention, you’ll want to spend extra time evaluating its strengths and weaknesses and then work on improving it. In this article we’ll cover best practices and how to improve the onboarding process for 2021. But before we do, its important to understand why onboarding is so important.
Why is Onboarding Important?
The onboarding process sets the tone, and makes the first critical impressions of your company on new employees. You want your company to be a place where top talent wants to work, so you need to make a great first impression and then you need to continue to build upon it. Strong onboarding procedures:
- Create a better workplace experience.
- Set clear expectations.
- Produce higher job satisfaction.
- Optimize productivity.
- Allow for better resource allocation.
- Create a stronger team with higher moral.
- Increase retention rates and reduce turnover.
- Provide for better customer experiences.
According to a report from SHRM,
- half of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of senior outside hires leave within 18 months. However,
- new employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at the company for up to three years. And,
- organizations surveyed, perceived that effective onboarding improved retention rates by 52%, time to productivity by 60%, and overall customer satisfaction by 53%.
Additionally, according to a report from Finances Online:
- Formal onboarding programs led to a 20% increase in manager satisfaction.
- 77% of employees who received formal onboarding hit their performance goals. And,
- employees who have a good onboarding experience are 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their company.
As you can see, these numbers make a strong case for improving your onboarding process. So, what should you do to improve your onboarding process? We’re glad you asked.
Improving Your Onboarding Process
The first step to improving your onboarding process starts the moment you hire a new employee.
As soon as your offer is accepted, you need to stay in touch. The job may not have begun yet, but don’t make the mistake of leaving candidates in the dark. Demonstrate that your new hire has made the right decision and shouldn’t consider any other offers. This is the time to express excitement, answer questions, keep them engaged, and get the ball rolling on the paperwork.
The best onboarding procedures are systematized. You want to make sure each new employee has the same experience from the moment they are hired.
Establish reusable task lists for each job description and an overarching task list for all company hires. This will save you a lot of double-checking and guesswork. Adjust your task lists until you feel comfortable with the thoroughness and efficiency of your process.
Set up an automated process for electronic document dissemination and signature gathering. This will streamline the paperwork process and reduce wasted time chasing down physical pieces of paper (BizRun makes this easy.) With an automated process, employees can read and sign documents on their desktop computer, or smartphone. Completed documents are then automatically filed in the employee’s electronic file folder saving you time and providing centralized access to anyone who needs it.
Be sure to:
- Use triggered notifications to announce when users have submitted certain documents or completed various forms.
- Automate emails to clearly confirm successful submission or to prompt people to complete forms.
- Implement applicant tracking software to track recruits and applicants all the way through the onboarding process.
Hit the Ground Running
Make sure you set up accounts, software, and system IT access first thing for a seamless transition on training days and in-person onboarding.
The right software can systematize and streamline your entire orientation process. Once you set it up, you can use it for every employee moving forward. Use training videos and other electronic materials to explain all the important topics about your company:
- Team members and job roles
- Staff hierarchy
- Vision, culture, priorities, goals, and expectations
- Office layout and departments
- Equipment setup
- Compliance and safety policies
- Employee benefits and opportunities
Your automated orientation process can include various formats to keep your new hire engaged. You can set checkpoints to break up longer training sessions, ensuring that each segment is completed. Best of all, your employee can complete a large part of the onboarding process on their own time and within the comfort of their home.
Training Helps Retention
One of the biggest reasons employees say they leave a job within the first year is because they feel unprepared for their role.
Train with E-Learning
Sometimes, you’ll hire employees who are highly qualified, but not yet trained for their position. E-learning to the rescue!
A good e-learning program saves you time and effort and ensures your employees have the knowledge they need to succeed. Video, audio, text, and photos can all be served up online at a pace that suits each employee. Quizzes throughout the course make sure employees understand and retain the information.
With the right onboarding approach, you can make sure employees use e-learning to learn what they need to before they ever set foot in their actual workspace. By the time they’re ready to train with a mentor, they already know about their job requirements and best practices.
Not only does this save a lot of time for your team, it makes your new hire more confident. They can feel comfortable that they have a basic understanding of their job within the company.
Once you automate a course, you’ll be relieved of the responsibility (and time investment) of providing in-person training. The only thing you’ll have to do is update the course as information changes.
When creating courses, break each topic into smaller sub-topics. That way, if any information changes, it will be easy to simply replace one little section.
Don’t Forget Compliance Training!
These days, many important regulations regarding privacy, security, and safety need to be met. Make sure your onboarding process covers them all.
One of the most common OSHA violations is a lack of training. In 2019, hazard communication was a leading reason for citations, with over 3,600 violations recorded. For companies dealing with fewer in-person dangers, a lack of security training for handling secure data is what poses the major threat.
With an automated process and tracking, you can ensure security and safety compliance and create a clear trail to prove it. Use the same system that tracks your new hires to ensure all current employees complete necessary compliance training as requirements change.
Incorporate Company Culture
Don’t gloss over company culture during onboarding. The better your new employees fit in, the better everyone’s morale and productivity will be.
According to a study from Jobvite, almost a third of employees leave their job within the first 90 days. Of those, 43% say the day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected and 32% felt they didn’t fit in with the company culture.
Employees who struggle to understand the culture and vision of the company will throw a wrench in your workplace mechanics. When an employee hasn’t “bought into” the culture, they may spread negative reviews. A poorly trained employee can put a bad face on the brand your company has worked so hard to establish.
A good company culture works like a well-oiled machine. Onboarding is a crucial time for helping an employee understand how that machine works. They need to know where they fit in the grand scheme and whom they should turn to with questions. Use the onboarding process to clarify your company’s vision and the roles of other employees.
Onboarding isn’t just an HR task. It takes everyone in the company, from top management to line managers, to ensure company culture remains consistent. Make sure you involve management and managers in the onboarding process.
Send an email to management to let them know a new employee is starting. They should make an effort to introduce themselves to the new hire and welcome them to the company.
The new hire’s direct manager should play a larger role. After all, it’s in their best interest if the new employee is successful. A direct manager should:
- Explain roles and responsibilities within the department.
- Establish rapport and encourage an open dialogue.
- Match the new hire with a volunteer peer mentor who will take an active role in the first few months to help the new employee acclimate.
- Check in with the new employee monthly to ensure they are doing well, and their questions are being answered.
Onboarding doesn’t have to be boring. Your company may not have the resources to do anything fancy but contemplate the new employee’s journey and think of ways to make it enjoyable.
- Be nice. Sending lots of documents to read and sign? Add an electronic gift card for the employee to enjoy a coffee while they work through all the paperwork.
- Communicate “welcome.” When the new hire arrives at the office, show them everyone’s happy about it. Whether that means having their name on a welcome sign or ensuring the receptionist personally greets them, it will make a difference.
- Encourage special treatment. If your company uses badges, consider adding a ribbon that says “new employee.” It’s an easy way to encourage your current employees to walk up to new employees and introduce themselves.
- Spice things up. When presenting onboarding information, try to enliven otherwise dull topics. Use fun images. Add a joke or cartoon. Rather than having training recorded by just one person, get employees from throughout the company to participate. Create an interactive game where the new employee can win prizes like a company baseball cap or t-shirt.
Continue to Evaluate and Improve Your Onboarding Process
To make sure your onboarding process continues to work well, keep looking for ways to improve it. Check in with employees for their views on the process. Ask them to give you key insights immediately after onboarding, three months after, and one year after. As they learn more about the company, they may have different answers. Some questions you might ask:
- Was onboarding boring or too long?
- Was the automated onboarding process easy?
- Did you hit any snags with signing paperwork, completing training, or finishing orientation?
- What was most helpful to you during onboarding?
- Did you feel ready to start your job after orientation and training?
- What do you wish were better covered during online training?
- Was it easier to watch videos, read papers, or complete interactive sections of the online training?
- Did you feel you understood your role before starting your job?
- What would you change in the onboarding process?
You can also measure your turnover rates to find gaps in the process. Use exit interviews to see if employees were well prepared for the job. Measure how long it takes a new employee to become fully productive in their new role and consider whether the onboarding process could help speed that up.
Onboarding Matters! Make It Great
How you bring on new employees will impact everyone in the company. Getting employees acclimated and productive as quickly as possible should be the key focus. Each year continue to evaluate and improve the onboarding process. If you can’t make all the changes at once, focus on those changes that will result in the greatest positive impact to the company. In the end, a solid onboarding process will save your company money with lower turnover rates, fewer wasted training hours, better compliance, and higher overall productivity.