How you and your business attract, introduce and train new employees matters. The onboarding process includes defining expectations, fostering relationships and trust, and ensuring team members feel their role is clear and that they’re capable of showing up everyday and getting things done.
According to Gallup, just 12% of employees surveyed considered their organization’s onboarding of new employees to be a “great job.” However, a mediocre or a poor job of onboarding has consequences for the employee and the employer. These consequences can be far and wide: ranging from lowering confidence and decreasing employee morale to hurting your bottom line.
Underutilized onboarding can lower productivity and lead directly to greater inefficiencies. Bad onboarding processes are a significant driver of loss of talent, which can cause your company to lose up to 300% of the employee’s salary in costs.
The good news is that poor onboarding habits can be avoided and replaced by good ones.
What Not to Do
Take a look at your organization’s current onboarding processes. Ask the following:
What is the purpose?
What are the steps to the process?
Who do they engage and when? How do employees find the experience?
What are the perspectives of managers and human resources leaders?
Then, take stock of your answers. You might find that some parts of the onboarding are on the “what not to do” list. Three key things not to do include:
Waiting to begin
Proceed without a Strategy
Pay Attention only to what’s on paper.
Do Not: Wait to Begin
Don’t wait to begin. Onboarding should commence as soon as the employee is hired, if not sooner. Typically, there is a waiting period between when someone is hired and when they have their first day on the job. This time is not dead space. It can be filled with anxiety – or, it can be filled with enthusiasm and support. You have the opportunity to use this time to begin building a strong foundation.
Pre-boarding is a good time to set a strong basis through welcoming the new employee, developing a relationship and even getting a headstart on pesky paperwork. However, a lack of communication during this time was reported during this time by 40 percent of job candidates, according to CareerBuilder. Be more proactive and take advantage of this time.
From there, it is very important to keep the onboarding process intentional and continual, particularly during the first few months with the new employee. The Academy of Management Journal found that early support – within the first 90 days of employment – can powerfully shape future work outcomes and relationships. This is also a time to collect data on new hires, which can inform their support and future onboarding decisions.
Do Not: Proceed without Strategy or Clear Communication
More than 20% of new hires who ended up quitting within the first six months at a new job explained that “clear guidelines” from superiors regarding expectations would have encouraged them to continue in their role, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management. This means that communication is key.
It’s important to set clear guidelines not only about what’s expected in the role, but to also be clear about the onboarding process. This opens a line of transmitting information from the very beginning. Inform the employee what the onboarding process will be like and what the goal of the process is, and open space for them to ask questions and provide feedback.
Communication is just one pillar in developing a strategy for onboarding. Structured onboarding leads employees to be 58% more likely to remain with an organization after three years, according to a study by the Wynhurst Group. Having a strategic approach is critical.
Developing methods for onboarding should include a plan to onboard individual positions and a greater strategy for how the onboarding process relates to the mission and goals of the company. This includes anticipating the future of work and anticipating the skills of the future and using this as a guide for the onboarding.
Do Not: Only pay attention to what’s on paper
Always remember: onboarding is about people, not about processes.
When constructing and carrying out the onboarding process, consider the person in front of you. Personalizing employee and user onboarding is more than just customizing emails; you need to understand and harness individual motivations to prepare longer-term plans for success.
Get to know the new employee. This includes taking the time to consider individual preferences for learning and training, and the different dynamics across personalities.
Ultimately, onboarding should not just consider the present moment and a generic approach. Rather, the process – and those who design and implement this important part of business – should look further down the horizon to the future and look deeper into the new employee sitting across the desk or behind the computer screen.
So, How to Do Things Better?
Plan for the Future
As automation supports and replaces human labor, talent in the workforce will evolve. Explained by McKinsey, it’s important that your company grounds the future in three questions: what type of talent is needed? How can this talent be attracted to this company? How can this talent best be managed?
Use these questions to inform your onboarding strategy. Be explicit about how each position adds value to the organization and how the role of these positions will evolve over time. Map this out and then work backwards to use the future to inform the present onboarding.
Another layer of preparing for the future is that as more work becomes remote and a hybrid model is further adopted, it’s important that human resource teams prepare for virtually onboarding and plan for how to use technology to build connections and bridge individuals with opportunities.
Define, and Redefine, Culture and Values
Part of preparing for the future involves companies clearly defining their purpose and uniqueness to create a strong work culture that attracts, trains and retains the right people.
Onboarding can help to shape and reflect the culture of each company and organization through transmitting the core values to the new employees while creating space for their individual assets, values and perspectives to create the culture as it evolves.
Take Advantage of Tools
Use tools to help support and improve the onboarding process. Approach these strategically by first considering: which parts of the onboarding process can be improved? Which areas are well received? How do new employees like to learn? What are the end goals? Approach things with both practicality and vision.
Onboarding can include welcoming an employee to a new position, but also supporting them in a new skill. An example of a training and onboarding tool is OnScreen, which allows trainers or subject matter experts to easily create step-by-step tutorials for users directly in your SAP system or any web application, such as SuccessFactors, Salesforce, Workday, Ariba or ServiceNow. Users or new employees then learn the program through a customized walkthrough. OnScreen overlays contextual guidance to walk them step by step through work instructions within the flow of work at the time of need. These OnScreen guides can be overlaid on top of any application that runs in a browser, even homegrown apps.
This sort of tool supports key aspects for better onboarding and the future of work, such as embracing technology and preparing for the digital workplace.
For example, Onscreen streamlines onboarding tasks while facilitating and simplifying communication within your organization. So, let’s say that when a new employee is onboarded, they likely receive more than 100 emails from human resources, business line managers, direct supervisors, colleagues, and so on. These emails contain important important information and instructions, but it’s easy for them to be lost, forgotten or overlooked. This is where OnScreen comes to help. Onscreen enables certain members of the organization to communicate using the OnScreen Announcements.
These are in-application messages directed towards specific users or groups, and are available upon login or during a specific time period. These messages alert the user to changes or other pertinent insights. These OnScreen announcements help employees get the right information at the right time and in the right place.
Bad onboarding hurts your employees, your team, and your mission and your financial standing. But, assessing the processes and learning about common mistakes empowers things to be done better.
Remember to start onboarding as soon as possible, be clear and consistent with communication, proceed with strategy and focus on the individual. Good onboarding also requires some foresight, including preparing for the future of work, embracing evolving work cultures and using tools to upskill employees and prepare for the digital workforce.
The onboarding process must be different for each organization, so that it aligns with values and supports each new employee for the value they add in their role. Being smart about how communication, timing and tools helps each employee assimilate more effectively and begin contributing to the team.