Why you probably need to revamp your employee onboarding process – and how to do it

Employee onboarding process

How much focus does your organization give to the employee onboarding process?

According to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees – which means there’s a lot of room for improvement.

And, it’s well worth the time, effort, and attention. After all, there is more than enough evidence that proves that a robust, integrated, and people-focused onboarding process leads to happier, more engaged, and more productive employees – as we’ve previously seen – which in turn leads to higher retention.

In other words, onboarding shouldn’t be viewed as a run-of-the-mill task that simply needs to be ticked off the list. A well-thought-out onboarding strategy is essential if you’re serious about retention.

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What does an effective employee onboarding process entail?

1. Shift your focus from a once-off onboarding ‘event’ to an integration plan

To begin with, it’s important to realize that thorough onboarding doesn’t happen in a day, or even one or two weeks. In fact, we recommend treating the onboarding process as more of an integration plan.

As we discussed in one of our earlier blogs on employee retention, it can take six months to a year (sometimes longer) for a new employee to get up to speed with tenured colleagues.

Having an onboarding plan in place is great to begin with, but ensuring that new employees are well integrated is where all the difference lies. It’s important to recognize and make provision for the fact that it will take time for new hires to find their feet and feel confident in their role. Knowing this, you may need to rework your employee onboarding process into a robust integration plan that spans six months to two years.

We’ll share more on that in the next point.

2. Develop a new hire integration plan

If your onboarding plan hasn’t taken priority until now, it’s safe to assume that you don’t have an effective integration strategy in place either. Let’s look at how you can develop a new hire integration plan, and in doing so, give your onboarding process (which will spill over into the integration process) a boost.

To briefly recap on another one of our earlier blogs, we’ll share the seven most important aspects to include on your integration checklist.

  • Schedule welcome chats
  • Set up regular mentor meetings
  • Involve your new hires in diversity and inclusion activities
  • Give them stimulating work gigs
  • Give them the opportunity to align with stakeholders
  • Help them foster the right social connections
  • Give them the real-time feedback they crave

READ MORE: Does your new hire integration checklist include these seven things?

3. Ensure that employees quickly become part of your organization’s DNA

Unfortunately, without a new hire integration plan, many organizations make the mistake of relying on a quick orientation session (i.e. some companies’ definition of “onboarding”) to give new hires a brief tour of the building, run through the systems and processes, and offer a few instructions on how the coffee machines work. They then fall into the trap of believing that it won’t be long until these employees are ready to soar as enthusiastic and loyal employees.

The truth is, however, that employees are more likely to absorb new information, adapt to their new role, and start performing well when they feel connected to your organization. Going the extra mile (by following the above-mentioned steps) shows employees that you’re excited to have them onboard, that you value their contribution, and that you want them to feel a part of the company’s DNA from the outset. If they genuinely have this sense, they’ll more likely feel motivated – and you’ll have established a great foundation from which these employees can grow at your organization.

4. Introduce technology to most effectively roll out your revamped employee onboarding process

Perhaps the thought of conceptualizing and rolling out a “revamped onboarding strategy” is an overwhelming concept with all the other talent management components that you need to pay attention to. Fortunately, there is modern technology focused specifically on helping your onboard and integrate your new employees well.

In fact, employee integration is one of the key capabilities that vi offers, and our specialized software platform plugs right into your existing people management tools to help you win the fight against attrition by ensuring that no one falls through the cracks (especially during the employee onboarding process).

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A case study: How one company successfully revamped its onboarding process

As shared on HR Morning, Sage Therapeutics – a biopharmaceutical company – effectively restructured its employee onboarding process to involve all employees. It became aware of the need to do so when realizing that many existing employees didn’t know too much about the company or the role they played in contributing to it, and new hires’ managers, who were often in charge of onboarding, weren’t sure how to handle the process.

The company’s new onboarding framework made room to extend the employee onboarding process beyond the initial orientation period and to get everyone in the company (not just new hires) involved.

To roll this out, Sage Therapeutics put emphasis on three key areas:

  • New-hire orientation, which involves a welcome and a basic rundown of company information and operations.
  • Department-level onboarding, which gets new hires to meet their co-workers, learn how their team operates, and understand how their department adds value to the company.
  • All aboard is an event that all employees attend, getting tenured employees to socialize with new hires in a natural setting. This is a great way for new hires to meet employees they might not work with ordinarily.

The results: After this plan was established, the company got leaders involved, made managers aware of their responsibilities in running the onboarding process, and offered leadership training where necessary. As a result of the company’s “onboarding revamp”, both veteran employees and new hires felt happier and more engaged – two fundamental components that support retention.

Grow your new hires into loyal employees

Does your employee onboarding process need sprucing up? If so, use the tips we’ve shared above to get the ball rolling and talk to us about how we can help you achieve your onboarding, integration, and retention aims with our advanced HR platform.

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