According to a 2017 survey by Korn Ferry Futurestep, nearly 90% of polled executives say that retention of new hires is an issue in their organisation, with 10-25% of new hires leaving within 6 months of joining. A different survey conducted in 2018 by recruitment firm Robert Half revealed that the number one reason for 36% of new hires quitting was due to a lack of proper onboarding.
The statistics cited above suggest onboarding needs to cover more than just a couple of days of socialisation with peers, and include more than basic administrative processes such as submitting paperwork and providing system log-ins. Instead, onboarding should be an opportunity to share with new employees the company culture, vision and strategic priorities. It’s a process whereby these fresh recruits acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to become effective long-term employees.
Here’s what your onboarding program should be providing:
- Job clarity
Instead of just providing factual information about pay and benefits, reviewing company rules and procedures, your onboarding program should focus on the expectations and key skills the employee is expected to possess. It’s an opportunity to outline expectations, establish milestones and set goals for new employees – even if these are only short-term goals such as completing an eLearning course. New hires also want to see a path for advancement.
Onboarding should provide a roadmap for future success in the organisation. That roadmap starts from day one on the job by providing a logical, relevant and personalised onboarding process. Participants will want to know what the onboarding process looks like:
- How long is the onboarding process? Depending on role complexity, this can range from a couple of days to several weeks.
- What training is included and how will this be done – in-person, online or a mix?
- How will their progress be tracked? Will formal and informal “check-ins” be done with management or HR?
- Who will they meet along the way (e.g. other department heads, HR and learning team members, etc.)?
Rather than an ad-hoc approach, which may include too many elements (resulting in confusion and information overload) or too few elements (resulting in knowledge gaps for key information), a structured onboarding process standardises what every new employee goes through. It will also allow for some degree of personalisation, factoring in unique elements of the role.
- A taste of culture
By making the onboarding process as personal as possible, new employees can not only understand what the company culture is, but how to thrive in it. If culture is broadly defined as “the way things are done around here” there’s no better way to introduce a culture to a new employee than to assign a mentor to them. According to the Korn Ferry Futurestep survey, 67% of surveyed executives believe a mentor program for new hires would help them acclimatise, yet just 23% of organisations have such a program in place. A mentor can ease the inevitable awkwardness a new employee will feel in their first days and weeks on the job and provide access to their existing network and social circles, providing a support network for the new employee moving forward.
Sure, it’s not sexy, but compliance is what keeps organisations and individuals out of trouble. Costly fines and reputational damage can flow from non-compliance, so it’s best to establish from day one how seriously your organisation takes its compliance obligations. Establish if your new employee needs training – or make it mandatory to do baseline compliance training – and know ahead of time if their role requires anything above and beyond the norm. An automated onboarding process can also ensure relevant documentation and information is sent to government and regulatory bodies.
In terms of skills and knowledge, there’s a lot to learn in a new role and it must be covered quickly: rules, regulations, compliance issues, new technical skills, new soft skills…It can be overwhelming, so have a structured learning process in place.
- Break down the content into digestible chunks
- Start with the basics that everyone needs to master
- Emphasise what’s critical to their success, so they know where to focus
- Repeat key points constantly, as people will forget
- Provide a written plan, so they can see a beginning and an end, and help them understand exactly what’s being covered and how everything is tied together
- The right tools
We get it – everyone is busy. But there’s nothing that says “we don’t care about you, you’re an afterthought” than not having the right tools and equipment for a new hire on their first day. From providing computers and laptops and other tools of the trade, ensuring they have security access badges, through to adding their details to email lists, a simple checklist should ensure that everything they need to do their job is in place. And that includes a desk!
The role of technology
Managers and HR teams are strapped for time – and completing and chasing up the paperwork traditionally associated with onboarding is a major time drainer. Technology, such as ELMO’s Onboarding solution, can streamline the administrative side of onboarding by simplifying and tailoring workflows, sending reminders to complete tasks, funnelling new employees into learning portals and submitting relevant documents to government authorities, such as the Australian Taxation Office or New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department. In addition, self-service functions enable employees to input their personal bank, tax and superannuation details in their own time.
More than tick-the-box
Ultimately, onboarding should reinforce to your employees that they’ve made the correct decision to join your organisation. As new employees progress through the organisation, these early experiences will shape how they behave, and just as critically, how they perceive and engage with their employer. That alone is worth creating an onboarding process that is seamless, thorough and more than a tick-the-box exercise.