Here’s a piece of good news: The vast majority of employees want to be successful and give their very best to their employers. The same goes for employers. It goes without saying that you want your employees to be successful. After all, your company depends on it, right? But the not-so-good news is how there are all kinds of things that get in the way of these good intentions, and some of those things can start going wrong on day one of a new hire’s time at your company.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is onboarding. This initial process of introducing a new employee to your company’s culture and procedures is vital, and yet surprisingly few have put any real thought or planning into how it happens. The key is knowing how to onboard new employees so they are positioned for success.
According to the Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, 22% of companies have no formal onboarding program at all, and 48% can only characterize their onboarding efforts as “somewhat successful.” Is it any wonder that a full third of new employees quit their job within the first six months? On the other hand, a Wynhurst Group study found new hires are 58% more likely to still be working for the company three years later if they went through a structured onboarding program (source).
How can companies do better onboarding? Here are three key areas for onboarding success:
Start Onboarding Before the First Day on the Job
Walking into the first day on the job only to face a mind-numbing stack of HR paperwork is not a good way to start. When an offer is made, immediate access should be granted to a virtual onboarding portal. Automating much of the paperwork around payroll and benefits for electronic signature allows many of the HR details to happen before their on-site start day.
The portal can also serve up a good deal of information about the company, including an electronic employee manual, information about the team members they will be working with, company terms and acronyms and so on. This is also the time to make sure the new hire’s workstation or office is fully set up and ready to go for start day.
Clarity on Expectations, Objectives, and Training
Day one on the job needs to be all about making sure new hires meet everyone they need to know while they learn the details of what they will be doing, ways to deliver, and how feedback and evaluation happens.
The new employee should also have a very clear picture of what training they will be receiving in their first week on the job. If new hires aren’t equipped with the tools and training they need to succeed early on, it sets the stage for a downward spiral that often ends in an early departure from the company.
Keep these early days and weeks highly structured for them so they don’t feel like they’ve been left to fend for themselves. They will feel supported, which makes all the difference. After a week or two of this, then you can ease off the structure.
Two-Way Feedback Early and Often
Employees are far more engaged when they feel like their input and feedback is valued by the company. A new hire presents an opportunity for the company to view itself through fresh eyes. Take full advantage of this opportunity by soliciting feedback from the new employees about the onboarding process and their perceptions of the company’s culture, policies and procedures.
At the same time, any new hire is likely to make missteps early on as they get started, which means performance feedback and evaluation is critical. While formal HR employee reviews normally only take place once or twice a year, a new employee should be receiving constant feedback from their direct supervisor, and 360-degree performance reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis during their first year on the job.
Taking the time to develop a formal onboarding program incorporating these three broad categories of best practices will set the stage for significantly boosting employee retention at your company. And that’s something everyone would like to see happen.