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 people – 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 robust, integrated, and people-focused onboarding 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 onboarding checklist. A well-thought-out onboarding strategy is essential if you’re serious about retention.
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How can you establish a more effective onboarding process at your company?
Once you’ve decided to upgrade your onboarding program, it can seem like an intimidating process to change it. Software like ours can help guide you through it, but let’s break down the major steps you need to take a new employee’s onboarding experience on a new level.
1. Shift your focus from a one-off onboarding ‘event’ to a long-term integration plan
To begin with, it’s important to realize that thorough onboarding doesn’t just happen on the new hire’s first day, or even in the first week or two. In fact, we recommend treating the onboarding process as more of an ongoing 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 their tenured colleagues and get comfortable in a new company culture.
Having an onboarding plan in place is great to begin with, but ensuring that new people are fully 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 and in your company’s culture. A first day or even a first month of company policies, training sessions, and introductions to team members may make a good first impression, but taking that further is the difference between a honeymoon phase and long-lasting and satisfying employment. Knowing this, you may need to rework your employee onboarding process into a robust integration plan that spans six months to two years.
2. Develop a new hire integration plan with a checklist of tasks and activities
If your new employee 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 another one of our earlier blogs, here are the seven most important aspects to include on your new hire integration checklist.
- Organize welcome chats with important stakeholders: From an employee’s first day on, it’s important to establish the work environment. Stakeholder chats are an informal way to introduce them to the team and welcome them to the company culture.
- Assign a mentor they can meet with on a regular basis: Give them that person they can turn to for any question or concern. As they settle in, they can shift from more frequent mentor chats to longer monthly meetings if needed.
- Invite them to participate in diversity and inclusion activities: Whether you have a D&I program or you decide to start one, involving new people will give them a chance to make social connections and encourage inclusivity in your culture and work.
- Create an internal gig economy filled with stimulating work gigs: Giving an employee the chance to start their new job with a short-term project of their choice can help them meet the team and get some hands-on training.
- Give them the chance to align with stakeholders: Sprinkle short catch-ups and social events beyond your onboarding programs, so that new people have the chance to mingle and share ideas with the senior leaders in the company.
- Schedule events that encourage social connections: Plan a variety of social activities, in small and large groups, that encourage team-building and new relationships across the company.
- Provide real-time feedback from their start date until their end date: Not just for your integration or onboarding processes, our real-time feedback system makes sure all your people know how they’re doing and how they can improve their work.
3. Ensure that new 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 on day 1 (i.e. some companies’ definition of “onboarding”) to give new hires a brief tour of the building, get their new hire paperwork sorted out (like direct deposit forms), 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 formal onboarding that wraps up on the end of the first day will be enough to nurture enthusiastic and loyal employees.
The truth is, however, that hires 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 an employee 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 new hires feel welcome, 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 that will 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 a new employee well. It can track all your new employees and their progress throughout onboarding.
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 onboarding). Your HR professionals will find it easy to manage the big picture of employee engagement and retention, from the moment a job offer is accepted.
With this software, you can create the ideal onboarding and integration plans for your company, and even vary them up for different positions and career levels. People who join your company will become productive faster, plus you’ll get their feedback on the process every step of the way. You’ll also be able to tell if they were the right person for the job thanks to real-time feedback from your “integration team” (the stakeholders working with them) on how they are settling in and adapting to their new role.
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Case study: How one company successfully revamped its onboarding process to involve all its employees
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 employee 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, which 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 onboarding, 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 a loyal workforce with our helpful software
Does your employee onboarding checklist and process need sprucing up? If so, use the tips we’ve shared above to get the ball rolling and then reach out to chat with us about how we can help you achieve your onboarding, integration, and retention aims with our advanced human resource platform.