When you want to improve your onboarding process, it can be daunting; especially if you’re operating with small information technology (IT) and human resources (HR) teams.
Transforming your onboarding process can save you time and energy so that you can focus on more innovative projects. Most importantly, the maintenance of your onboarding program needs to be easy when your team is responsible for onboarding, offboarding and managing people operations—all at the same time.
If the process is simple, consistent and effective, it can go a long way in providing a good first impression for your new employees and retaining the top performers.
Data from the consulting firm BCG shows that your onboarding process has a higher business impact than you think – it ranks #2 in importance, just after recruiting. In fact, if you do it well, you can expect to double your corporate revenue and growth.
Onboarding, traditionally, is a dry, overwhelming process for new hires—consisting of videos, policy education, sign-ups, and forms—but it doesn’t have to be a drag.
Retain Top Talent by Improving Onboarding Processes
The onboarding process is effective because it directly influences employee morale, performance and the impact of your organization’s business goals from day one—all of these elements add up to defining your company’s culture.
Effective onboarding programs can improve employee performance by 11.5 percent, according to Recruiting Roundtable.
According to Gostick and C Elton, 4 percent of new hires decide after the first day if they’re going to stay. In addition, DOL reported that a structured hiring process makes them 66 percent more likely to stay.
The onboarding process will be different for each organization, as needs, goals, and job skills differ, but here are five steps to help you build a top-tier onboarding process—one that will excite your new employees, boost their performance, and give you the best chance of retaining them.
Step 1: Automate What You Can
We mentioned before that, traditionally, the onboarding process can be dry. If you can automate forms, video training, and policy education, it alleviates some of the burden on your new employee and yourself.
For new employees, no one likes to come into a new job and sit at a desk all day filling out forms. When automating this process, consider sending forms to your new employee before their big day. This way, when they walk in the door, all of the boring paperwork is done and you can focus on the more exciting aspects of onboarding.
Step 2: Do Something Special for Your Employees
You want your new hire to know that he or she is wanted and not only feel like they’re lucky to be there, but that you feel like you’re lucky to have them there, too.
Smartsheet, a work collaboration tool, has found a unique way to welcome their new employees. Their employees receive a personalized gift at their home a week before their first day. “It reminds them that we’re excited for them, and gives a peek into our culture.” The “box full of happiness” contains a personalized note from each of the new employee’s interviewers, chocolate, a mug, and Smartsheet swag.
“At the same time that this gift arrives, the new employee also gets an email describing everything needed for a successful first day: their agenda, where and when they need to arrive, and what to expect.” - Smartsheet
This small ritual goes a long way for boosting employee morale and has the added benefit of alleviating some of the mystery surrounding their first day.
Step 3: Keep it Personal, and Ease First-day Anxieties
There are several small steps you can take to ease a person’s anxiety on the first day, getting rid of any nervousness they might have about their new employment:
- Ask the receptionist or security guard to greet them warmly, and have someone personally escort them from the door into the office
- Avoid any nervousness by streamlining your office access with a cloud-based access control system — share a smartphone key with them before their first day so they aren’t stuck waiting outside for someone to let them in. This improves their first impression and makes them feel like part of the team. For more information about physical security, check out our guide.
- Personally introduce them to their team
- Provide them with a company roster, so they know how to contact everyone
- Encourage others in the office to introduce themselves
- Pick up where the last interview left off, and give them an introduction to the company and their new job
- Go out to lunch (or order in), and let them spend some quality time with their manager
- Make every effort to have their workstation set up before they arrive
While these tasks may seem small, they’ll reassure your new hire that they’re wanted and welcome in their new office and role.
Step 4: Make it Interactive
When you finally get into the nitty-gritty of assimilating your new employee into your company culture and their new job role, consider making the process interactive.
Gamification is a popular new trend hitting HR, and can be very effective in keeping your new hire engaged during onboarding.
LinkedIn provides some great ideas on how to utilize gamification:
Rackspace, a provider of managed cloud business solutions, fills their initial four-day onboarding with games, skits, costumes, music and a limbo bar to induct their new hires into their company culture.
Bazaarvoice, user-generated content marketing solutions, sends their employees on a week-long scavenger hunt to bring them up to speed on culture and their industry jargon.
Go further than just assimilating new employees into your company culture and industry; it’s important for them to walk away from the onboarding process with a full understanding of what will be expected of them.
Step 5: Help Them Understand What Will Make Them Successful
The final step to to improving your onboarding process is providing a structured approach to revealing your new hire’s goals.
According to Global HR Research (GHRR), the number one thing your new hire will be interested in when they onboard will be learning about their role and what will make them successful.
Help them understand key priorities on their first day. Even though it might seem like an overwhelming activity for onboarding, a brief overview of the following will help to solidify the expectations for their role:
- Show them the department/team’s goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Show them their own individual KPIs
- Have their manager discuss their management style and approach
- Have a conversation about any type of bonus formulas or performance appraisal forms
- Give them an overview of their potential career path (what is the promotion criteria, what is their next level-up, what resources do you provide to help them get there?)
- Finally, help them understand how high-level decisions are made within the organization
As all of these key elements work together to create an impressive onboarding process, your team will be working behind-the-scenes to ensure it’s all going smoothly—so who is responsible for the individual tasks?
Who should be responsible for what during the onboarding process?
Particularly in small organizations, you’re working with a group of two to three people to onboard your new employees—a herculean feat for several people with other tasks and projects.
When the process becomes streamlined, it gets a whole lot easier because everyone knows their jobs beforehand. Generally, the onboarding tasks will fall to four people (or groups of people); HR, IT, the hiring manager and their team.
Human Resources Responsibilities:
- Gathering all the necessary paperwork, policy education materials and automating all legal processes
- Organizing a way to boost your new hire’s morale (whether it’s a gift box or a team lunch, this step matters)
- Answering any questions about compensation, bonus structure, or company stocks/equity.
- Ensuring assimilation into company culture
- Managing the acquisition, set-up and training of any equipment at your new hire’s workstation
- Sharing a smartphone key, or creating a physical key card
- Setting up the workstation, and ensuring its functionality and security
- Further insights can be found in our IT onboarding checklist
Hiring Manager Responsibilities:
- Gathering all KPIs, goals, and structural process
- Providing an overview of their management style
- Providing an overview of company goals, structure, and expectations
- Assuring that the new employee is seamlessly assimilating into the team culture
- In general being friendly, providing support, and answering any new questions the new hire may have to the best of their ability
Once everyone understands their role in your new onboarding process, your new hires will be set up for success as this better, more effective way to bring on new employees rolls out and starts positively impacting your organization.
How to Improve Your Offboarding Process
It’s often an afterthought, but an offboarding process can be just as important as an onboarding process. Employees could be leaving your organization for a variety of reasons, and keeping their relationship with the company consistent is important.
According to Balance Point Payroll, there are two best practices to keep in mind when structuring your offboarding process:
- Have a consistent process: Keep the same process across the board no matter who is leaving, or why he or she may be leaving. This will guard against discrimination.
- Keep a professional relationship: It’s important to set the right tone during the offboarding process, and keep a good relationship, as former employees could be your best way of attracting new talent and potential clients. Don’t give anyone a reason for them to speak poorly about you.
As both your onboarding and offboarding processes are set into motion, you’ll begin seeing the positive impact a streamlined process can have. Continue to optimize any processes new employees go through to increase your chances of retaining top talent and getting the most out of new hires—from the time they walk in the door to the end of their employment.