At some point in our careers most of us have experienced, or will experience, bad onboarding – the process of induction to a new organisation. There’ll be no one to meet you on your first day, computer logins won’t be ready, you’ll become best friends with the IT helpdesk and various bits of paperwork won’t have been completed.
It’s a bad start that can have long-term implications, which is why hiring managers need to think about onboarding carefully.
Does it really matter to have a good induction process?
You’ve probably been through a lengthy recruitment process, interviewed lots of candidates and seen hundreds of resumes. While this has been going on, you and your team might well have been covering the position you need to fill. So, it’s tempting to get someone in place and working on the backlog as soon as they walk through the door.
But a bad first impression can leave a new starter wondering why they decided to join and itching to leave as soon as possible – that’s a waste of a costly recruitment process. Also, it takes around eight months for a new hire to reach full productivity. A bad onboarding process will lengthen that time. A good induction program is one that’s structured and personalised may shorten it and will improve staff retention, productivity and engagement.
Studies have found that organisations with an effective onboarding process are 60% more likely to retain staff beyond three years and new hires are 50% more productive. They also show the longer the process, the faster employees gain full productivity.
Get it right and you’ll have a positive, and therefore more productive, employee. Throw your new hire in the deep end without a float and they might just sink.
How does an effective onboarding program work?
It should welcome, integrate and assimilate your new team member and it should begin from the day they accept your offer and continue until, at the least, they reach full productivity. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you started:
- Keep in contact with your new hire before they start and prepare them for their first day. This will create a sense of loyalty and help prevent them doubting their decision to join. Read our article on pre-boarding for more.
- Don’t make them track you down. Let them know when and where they are required on their first day and provide them with an agenda well before.
- Ask them to complete as much paperwork as possible before they start and have their workstation ready for them with email accounts and logins set up.
- Don’t mistake onboarding for training. Training focusses on the hard skills needed in the role, onboarding is about a new employee getting to know and becoming part of your culture and team. It’s a time to connect with them, not one to overwhelm them with paperwork, policies and compliance training.
- In their first week, give the new employee a clear idea of what is expected of them, how and when success will be measured and how their role supports the organisation’s goals and strategy.
- Schedule regular meetings during the first few months to track progress, work out where support might be needed and to make changes as you go. Providing continuous feedback and making sure your new team member feels supported will set them up for success.
- Consider buddying them up with a colleague who can help them get to know the company and the rest of the team. A buddy can answer questions they might not want to trouble you with.
- Extend the process. Onboarding is usually done over 90 days but we’re increasingly finding that continuing it up to 12 months creates better results. Check-in more formally with your new employee after three and six months to make sure they are settling in, happy and performing well. You then have time to tweak things if you need to.
- As one year approaches assess their performance and discuss next steps. Research shows employees want to know they are appreciated and that ongoing development opportunities are available to progress their career.
- After one year, transition onboarding into career development planning and other employee engagement strategies.
It may not be top of your to do list. But creating a good onboarding process, and a good first impression, will benefit you and your business in the long run.
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