You've searched high and low for that perfect employee...
And after you've finally found that person, you think you're off the hook. So you throw them in the deep end by dropping every single project and long-abandoned task on their plate ... Wrong!
This thoughtless approach will send this poor sap on the path to failure. And since you’ve invested so much time, money, and effort into recruiting this talent, don’t you think you should be doing all you can to set them up for success?
Employee Onboarding Definition
When people think of onboarding, the word “orientation” immediately comes to mind. Yes, orientation is where new hires fill out important documentation, sign up for benefits, and receive the company badge. But contrary to belief, that’s not what it actually is.
Employee onboarding introduces new hires to the important aspects of the company: values, culture, and people. From training to socialization, these activities are all part of the experience. It’s an opportunity for employees to feel comfortable in their new role, understand how this role impacts the business, and learn what type of behaviors are expected from them.
ROI From Onboarding
Onboarding should always be a top priority for every organization. The same amount of effort put forth for wooing a potential candidate needs to be put into onboarding a new hire as well. Consider what the Society for Human Resources Management and TalentWise found:
- Companies with an engaging onboarding program retained 91% of their first-year workers
- New hires who went through a well-structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years
These programs have long-term effects on employee retention. But those aren’t the only benefits. Check out the advantages a study by the Aberdeen Group and iCMS uncovered about an efficient onboarding process:
- 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue
- 63% year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction
- Onboarding improves company ROI by more than $79,000 per year
Benefits of an Effective Onboarding Process
We covered why your organization needs onboarding. Now we’ll go into why employees need it.
Starting a new job can be difficult. The responsibilities of a new role don’t always match the job description people signed up for. And often when someone walks through the doors for the first time, they don’t know a single soul there. It’s tough, but onboarding helps alleviate these stresses.
1. Learning curve
Companies that provide on-the-job training are giving new hires a life jacket to stay afloat. It teaches these workers the ins and outs of the organization’s culture and workflow. So giving employees a manual to read on the first day and expecting them to go head-on into work the next day is just wishful thinking.
2. Valuable feedback
A survey by Archbright reveals that review and playback play a critical role when it comes to getting an employee up to speed. Again, onboarding is a learning process, and feedback is a motivator. If an employee is left to fend for themselves — not knowing if they’re performing well — they’re going to become disengaged, or worse, leave.
3. Social circle
Peers play a huge part in motivation. For new hires, this is key to keeping them engaged. And being the new person at work can be isolating. For some, it can be difficult to approach a stranger and ask them a question about work. However, if companies make an effort to introduce new hires into the work community, it gets them settled in faster. And the quicker they feel comfortable, the quicker they’ll be able to approach a colleague about work-related questions.
In the long run, onboarding improves employee engagement and productivity. A one- or two-day orientation session full of paperwork doesn’t provide practical work knowledge. So turn to on-the-job training and mentors to guide new employees and keep them afloat through the ramping-up process.
The Don'ts of Onboarding
Organizations are failing their new hires during their first days. They’re leaving employees in the dust and not preparing them for success with the company. These are the five things you should never do during the first few days, weeks, or ever:
1. Failing to prepare
The new employee doesn’t have their workstation set up. They don’t even have an email address yet. Failing to set the proper arrangements for the employee is setting them up for, well, failure. It gives the impression that the company just don’t care.
2. Being unpersonable
"Read this form. Sign here." Repeat. How about showing some warmth? It’s difficult starting a new job, so make them feel welcomed by giving them a taste of their work responsibilities. It’ll make employees feel like they’re making a difference on the first day.
3. No introduction
It doesn’t matter how large a company is — introduce the employees to their teammates. First days are nerve-racking enough, so why would you want your new hire to feel like an outsider? Get them acquainted with their peers so they can start feeling comfortable in the culture.
4. Information overload
Just because we’re all adults doesn’t mean we have the longest attention span. Don’t just throw mounds of information at your employee and expect them to retain it. Instead, ease them in — little by little. Even throw in a few hands-on opportunities so they can get a better grasp on the information.
5. No greeter
The worst thing a company can do is not have anyone greet the new hire upon arrival. Don’t let them just go wandering and expect them to figure it out on their own. Have someone greet them and take them around the place so they know where to find everything.
It’s never easy starting a new job. And the wrong approach will just nudge your new hire out the door.
Unique Employee Onboarding Processes
So how do you create an appealing process? Skip the paperwork. Have new hires finish that before their first day — it’ll open up extra time for more hands-on learning. Consider these nontraditional methods for introducing your culture to new hires:
Pop some champagne
At TINYpulse, we celebrate new hires by popping open a bottle of bubbly on their first day to show them how excited we are to have them.
Send new hires on a scavenger hunt. Through a series of tasks and company-related questions, they can learn about the organization’s history and culture.
Have new hires spend four to six weeks cross-training with other teams to eliminate cross-departmental animosity.
Jump into the front line
Task out an assignment from the get-go so new hires feel like they’ve made a direct impact on their first day.
All hands on deck
Get new hires handling customer service and even assembling products to reinforce the idea that customers come first.
Onboarding Tip: Socialization
We know that peers play a huge role in motivating employees to go the extra mile. So don’t forget to make socialization a big part of your experience. Try out these tips to give employees a real chance to meet their colleagues:
Pair new hires with senior employees, peers, or their whole team. Take the meet-and-greets out of the office to keep it fun, social, and low-key.
Go out for happy hour or take a break to play some games. Round up employees together for some mingling, and don’t forget to introduce the new hire to everyone.
Do you have monthly social events or perhaps quarterly volunteering? Pair your new hires with more senior employees to get the event-planning committee going.
Onboarding Tip: Mentorship
One of the top employee onboarding best practices is mentorship. New hires need a specific go-to person that can help them ease into their new role and culture. Consider these points from a study by the Society of Human Resource Management:
- New employees with mentors became more knowledgeable about their new organization than someone who didn’t have a mentor
- New employees were more likely to have embraced the key values of their organization’s culture if they spent time with a mentor
Mentorship offers new hires in-depth knowledge that they would not have gotten had they been on their own. So what exactly does mentorship help with?
A veteran employee knows all the tips and tricks for getting tasks done quickly. They have effective routines for planning, scheduling, and prioritizing projects. They know who to go for information and where to find that person. Basically, a mentor can help a new employee lessen the learning curve and get them rolling on the job.
Having a mentor gives the new hire the opportunity for informal interactions. The mentor can introduce the new employee to people they already know. And having this guidance offers the chance for new hires to learn about how people act in the company and what behaviors they should expect.
Mentorship plays an important role in employee onboarding. Don’t throw your new hire into the ocean and expect them to swim. Give them a mentor to guide them into their job role and the organization’s culture.
Employee Onboarding Checklist
- 76% of companies have extended their employee onboarding to beyond one month
- It takes an average of eight months for a new employee to become fully productive
Learning takes time. Unlike a one-week training program that immediately pushes big projects onto a new employee, a 30, 60, 90-day plan lays the fundamental groundwork for success. And using 30-day increments allows people to focus on learning certain skills at certain times rather than all skills all at once.
Plus, a step-by-step learning process helps people gain confidence and in-depth knowledge of their responsibilities. Because by 90 days, your employee will be fully trained to tackle anything that comes along. It’s a lot better than having them learn and struggle as they go, right? That’s why one week just isn’t enough!
There's plenty of employee onboarding software out there. But you don't need that for an effective process.
Here’s a sample onboarding checklist that shows how to structure the first three months:
Learning takes time. But having a clear 30, 60, 90-day plan will let your newest hires know where to focus their time and attention and what they need to accomplish in order to be successful.
An efficient onboarding program contributes to the success of the business and employee. So instead of having employees sit through hours of orientation, revise the process. Include on-the-job training, socialization, and mentorship — and of course, have fun doing it.
Share Your Tips
We know every company does has their own way of doing things. If you have any awesome tips or fun anecdotes (maybe nightmare stories?) about employee onboarding, let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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