Employee Onboarding Matters: The Importance of Starting Right

woman leading employee onboarding session in classroom

An employee shows up at the doorsteps of his new workplace – enthusiastic and ready to take on the challenges of his new job. He enters the lobby but doesn’t know whom to look for. The lobby personnel calls Human Resources while the new employee waits. After a half an hour wait, he is ushered to his desk only to find out that his workstation is not yet ready. The new employee spends his entire day hovering over his colleagues’ shoulders. By the end of the working day, all glimmer of excitement and energy is gone.

This is a textbook example of how to botch a new employee’s onboarding experience. Companies are focused on candidate experience – wooing and pursuing potential employees to join their ranks. But as soon as the candidate signs the job offer, the new hire is left to his or her own devices. Sarah Wetzel, Director of Human Resources at engage:BDR shares, “I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them a potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.”

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into the organization and ensuring a smooth transition to the new role. This phase is the continuation of the corporate image and value that the company has set up during the interview and hiring process. Simply put, this is the second chance for the company to make that outstanding impression on the new employee. The onboarding process can also be designed to help employees moving up the ladder and succeed in their new role.

The Cost of Losing the Magic

An ineffective onboarding process can be costly and have lasting impact to the brand and the organization. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, three million employees have left their job voluntarily every month since June 2017. BambooHR surveyed 1000 employees and 31% of the respondents reported to having quit a job within the first six months. Participants further shared that the top reasons for leaving were poor onboarding experience and lack of clarity surrounding job duties and expectations.

This turnover trend has a significant impact on businesses. Advertising for an open position costs a substantial amount of money. Screening candidates and conducting interviews is an expensive and arduous process. And that’s before adding in the cost of onboarding and training new employees. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train an employee’s replacement.

All of these scenarios bring us back to the core of the matter – creating a great onboarding experience matters. Amy Hirsch Robinson, a leading Human Resource expert shared “Onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged.” New employees will know in the first 10 days if they will look for a new job in the next 18 months.

new employee onboarding

Creating the Best Onboarding Experience

Onboarding is a continuous process that begins as soon as the employee signs the job offer and continues well into the employee’s first anniversary. A successful onboarding process requires careful planning, support from the members of the organization and unwavering commitment for the new employee’s success.

1. Have a Plan

An onboarding process can be divided into three parts; Documentation, Education and Socialization. A well-planned onboarding process ensures that these three segments are covered.

  • During the onboarding stage, the new employee should have a checklist of the forms and documents that he or she needs to submit. It will be best to provide the forms prior to their start date. Forms can be filled out in advanced and documents can be submitted before the first day of work. Accomplishing the documents ahead of time allows the employees to be as productive as possible on their first day.
  • Roles and responsibilities should also be clearly explained to the new hire during the onboarding process. If possible, create a timeline of the trainings that he or she must undergo. Unclear expectations can cause frustrations both for the new hire and manager. It is also a good practice to setup the system ID and logins before the first day of work. This will allow the new employee to immediately start learning about the job. The goal is to harness the enthusiasm and energy that new hires carry with them when starting a new job.
  • Employee happiness is correlated with connections with colleagues at work. Employees with strong social connections at work are more engaged, productive and loyal. The onboarding plan should list specific steps such as buddy system, team building sessions, and social spots. This gives the new hires opportunities to know their colleagues and foster deeper connections.

2. Seek Support

A successful onboarding process depends highly on the help of the members of the organization. The Human Resources should collaborate with the department leaders and colleagues in order to create a well-rounded onboarding experience for the new employee. Engage all members of the team by involving them during the planning stage of the onboarding process. Conduct discussions with relevant groups to pinpoint which processes need improvement. If there’s a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” then it’s safe to say it takes a company to successfully onboard a new employee.

3. Commit to the New Joiner’s Success

Employees stay and contribute to the success of the organization when they feel valued and appreciated. Sending the message to the employee that he/she is a valued member of the organization requires commitment and consistent follow-through. During the onboarding stage, it is crucial to set a consistent check in period. Reach out to the new employee every 30 days. Make this interaction count by seeking feedback. Let the new employee know that they can reach out to the Human Resource team any time. This is also the perfect opportunity to give feedback on the employee’s performance.

Return of Investment

Keeping and retaining employees is critical to the success of an organization. Eighty percent of HR leaders agree to this and consider retention a priority. Low attrition rate of employees translates to lower hiring costs. Onboarding and training new employees can also be costly. Savings on getting new employees can be reallocated to other expenses such as team buildings and better equipment. Retaining employees within the company also allows them to foster connections with colleagues. This in turn builds a strong culture of respect, loyalty and cohesiveness. Having this kind of culture will be reflected in the company’s performance and interaction to external clients and customers.

While first impressions may not always be true, designing an effective, employee-centric onboarding plan can help an organization in so many ways. A robust onboarding program helps the company in tapping the potentials of a new employee and likewise affirms that the employee made the right decision in joining the company. Efficient employee onboarding is the best way to start you and your new employee off on the right foot.

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Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.

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