Whether inducting a new hire or promoting from within the organisation, employee onboarding is one of the most critical and difficult steps in the employee engagement process. With 1 out of every 25 employees leaving their jobs due to poor onboarding and with 20% turnover within the first 45 days of employment, it’s evident that companies need to focus their attention on creating strong onboarding strategies.
Good Onboarding is Synonymous with Success
Onboarding provides employees with the opportunity to learn valuable insights into their new organisation’s culture, mission, and brand and prepare for their new role. As no one day is the same within any organisation, it’s challenging to maintain a consistent and central onboarding procedure, but increasingly necessary.
These are the thoughts and takeaways from a Resourcing Think Tank held on Thursday 6th April and hosted by AXA UK’s Marcelle Foxcroft (Head of Resourcing UK) and Megan Smith (Early Careers and Employer Brand Manager). This Think Tank sought to discuss approaches to the “Defining an Effective Onboarding Strategy”.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior Resourcing and HR professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
Why is effective onboarding so important?
- Engages the new employee with the brand, culture, and values of the company
- Prepares the employee to be successful in role
- Saves the employer both time and money
- Improves employee retention
- Avoids brand damage through poor Glassdoor reviews
- Avoids missing out on referrals and opportunity costs
Throughout the onboarding process, it’s important for the employer to keep track of their hiring success to ensure that recruitment and training resources are delivering a positive return on investment.
How to Implement an Onboarding Strategy that Works
Identify Onboarding Roles
First and foremost, it’s important to clarify the roles of those involved with onboarding employees. For many organisations, there are different components of onboarding that range from HR and Recruitment, through to Marketing and IT support. For the employee, it’s important for their new Line Manager to be involved with the onboarding process as he/she is a powerful influence as to why the employee joined the company and ultimately why the employee will stay with the company. During this process of establishing roles and responsibilities, it’s important to ask:
- Whose main responsibility is onboarding – Recruitment or the Line Manager?
- Since the Line Manager is accountable for the hire, should they be heavily involved with the onboarding process?
- Does the size of your business warrant an onboarding team?
Avoid these Common Onboarding Challenges
Companies often sound like a broken record when it comes to new employees and IT problems! You’ve seen it before – a new employee shows up to his/her first day of work only to find out that their phone is not working, and their computer login hasn’t been set up properly. Businesses consistently run into these internal communications problems, which can be mitigated with proper onboarding.
- Problem: IT is consistently problematic on an employee’s first day, which makes for a bad first impression.
- Solution: Equipment should be ordered and organised in advance by the Line Manager.
- Problem: Line Manager avoids engagement during the onboarding process because they’re “too busy” with their own job.
- Solution: Ensure that onboarding is factored into all Line Managers’ role objectives, and taken into account during the appraisal process.
- Problem: HR and Line Managers rely too heavily on classroom-based learning, over-dictate, and over-communicate.
- Solution: Encourage the new employee to ask questions and be open about their expectations.
Develop the Onboarding Strategy
When developing an onboarding strategy, it’s important to provide new employees with the needed tools and resources that will lead to their success and simultaneously the success of the business. It’s important for the employer to define the time period of when onboarding ends and induction begins.
Onboarding Questions at the Employer Level
- What does the organisation expect of the candidate during the onboarding process?
- How should the training take place, i.e. classroom style, 1-to-1 training or virtual learning?
- How does the company ensure that all managers are prepared for their part in the onboarding process?
- Does the organisation have a local or company-wide onboarding approach?
- Should organisations have similar onboarding strategies for new hires as they do for new customers?
- Should the organisation create focus groups of new starters and managers to help shape the onboarding process?
- Should the organisation develop a buddy system?
- Manager would have accountability
- Buddy system could benefit early career candidates
- New candidate could help with practical day-to-day tasks
- What materials should be distributed?
- Role and responsibilities
- Written rules of company
- Overview of company culture
- Organisational chart to help employees understand roles
- Outline job description and have the employee prioritise needed training areas
- What technology should be used during onboarding?
- Page Tiger
- Elephants don’t forget
Key Questions when Measuring Success:
When measuring the success of onboarding, it’s important to ask, “how does onboarding impact our business’s success and how should it be measured?” It’s important to understand how successful onboarding has been for the company historically and to continue streamlining the process until there’s an obvious process that works for both the employer and employee.
Important metrics and feedback to consider:
- Measure speed-to-performance to show impact of recruitment
- Survey all new starters and ask for employee feedback
- Track attrition rates and non-starters
- Measure employee satisfaction scores (mimic customer satisfaction scores)
- Track referrals and percentage of employees that did go past the probation period
Everyone and every job is unique. This means that there is not a “one size fits all” for onboarding. Customising the onboarding process to specific job roles would benefit the employee, but would require extensive time and training from the Line Manager, which historically has been difficult to obtain. An incentive program for the managers to spend more time on onboarding could help address that problem.
Overall, the onboarding process is a key element to developing successful and confident employees and should focus on candidate engagement and understanding expectations. It’s important for the employer to build a clear organised strategy around the onboarding process and to communicate the onboarding schedule with all involved in the process.