Instead of guiding new employees to success, organizations with poor onboarding process are guiding new team members directly towards the exit. This statement comes from Arlene S. Hirsch, of the Society for Human Resource Management, and it’s hard not to agree with her. Recent studies prove that the new employee onboarding program is essential for employee satisfaction and retention, which, in turn, influence the overall performance of the company. New hires who begin their journey with a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay working in the company for the next three years. If you’re not ready to engage new talents, invest in them, and then lose them just because of a poor onboarding experience, this article is exactly what you need.
Why Do You Need to Enhance Your Onboarding Process?
Suppose Angela comes to your office as a new employee today. As usual, when a newcomer arrives, someone shows them the ropes and gives them a pile of paperwork to fill in. Afterwards, Angela patiently waits for a desk and computer then waits for the details to access the necessary files, software, and online platforms. She still sticks around while someone is deciding which task to delegate to her so that she will have the possibility to learn how it works there and be competent enough to take a full responsibility for its fulfilment. Angela takes the time to ask some questions about her work but her new colleagues seem too busy to be interrupted. Meanwhile, she has a chance to note that the office is quite clean, John wears red socks, Bill seems attracted to a girl in a black dress while that girl seems to hate a guy in a blue shirt, Joanna pretends to work while she is browsing Instagram, Angela’s left thumb seems weird, a fly is uselessly beating on the window…Finally, she gets a task but still waits for someone to explain to her how to do it…and here is when her first day at the new company comes to an end. Her onboarding hasn’t even started before she is disappointed with her new job.
Do you think Angela is satisfied with her first day? I believe she has nothing positive to say when asked about it. Is she going to stay in this job? I am sure she will give it a second chance but may leave whenever another appealing offer comes along. Does it affect your company? I bet my bottom dollar it does.
It is not too hard to understand the chain order joining new employee experience and overall business performance. In short, a successful onboarding process entails higher employee engagement and job satisfaction which subsequently lead to higher employee retention and lower turnover rates. This results in better employee performance which undoubtedly has a positive impact on the many other accomplishments of the company on the whole. Thus, positive dynamics are noticeable at all these levels of the chain since the success of a new team member contributes to overall business success including customer satisfaction. Furthermore, take a look at the statistics about the onboarding process below. These recent findings from Gillespie Associates demonstrate the crucial role of a successful onboarding process in numbers.
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Challenges a New Hire Faces During the Onboarding
Typically, when new employees, such as Angela from our story, take a new job, they experience certain challenges including the following:
- awareness of job responsibilities in theory vs. fulfilling their responsibilities using methods, tools, and techniques pre-approved by the company
- confusion about their role in the organization
- the necessity to learn how the company operates, learn about its products, services, customers, and competitors
- they need to socialize and to adjust to new team members and their feedback
By and large, an effective onboarding process can help new hires overcome all obstacles impeding their progress within the new company. For this reason, it is essential to design an optimal new employee onboarding program which will benefit both employers and employees.
Benefits of New Employee Onboarding
Stein and Christiansen, authors of the book Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value within Your Organization, consider onboarding as both a service to a newcomer and a tool for an employer to derive benefit from their staff through engaging them and promoting their growth. On the one hand, clear communication of expected goals and performance rates, as well as providing training and feedback, can remarkably boost productivity. Similarly, the onboarding process assists managers in evaluating employee effectiveness, especially during the trial period. If you still have doubts whether new employee onboarding is so important, pay attention to its following benefits promising to both employers and employees:
- organizational commitment
- higher performance levels
- lower turnover
- higher job satisfaction
- higher employee retention
- cost savings
- knowledge base sharing
- self-efficacy and career effectiveness
- increased employee engagement
- role clarity
- lowered stress
- promotion of corporate culture
- social integration
Two Effective New Employee Onboarding Programs
Since the organization of a successful onboarding experience requires diligent preparation, professionals in the area have designed particular algorithms to make it fast and easy. Recently, there have been two programs which have proved to be effective in planning the new employee onboarding process.
The author of the first approach is Dr Talya N. Bauer, an expert in human resources management and employee onboarding. Her well-known guidelines are oriented at four levels of onboarding, the so-called Four C’s, namely compliance, clarifications, culture, and connection. The main idea from Dr Baurer is that onboarding should be accomplished at each of these levels subsequently and it is crucial to succeeding at all these levels without any exceptions. Research published in the Journal of Organizational Psychology declares that newcomers who underwent the onboarding process at the highest level of connection exhibit higher rates of organizational commitment, perceived organizational support, onboarding utility, and job satisfaction.
Another popular model of employee onboarding has been presented by Stein and Christiansen in their book. This approach uses four pillars including cultural mastery, interpersonal network development, early career support, and strategy immersion and direction. The latter two elements are known as power elements, boosting employee productivity and organizational commitment. The onboarding program is complemented by four factors influencing employee performance (capability, context, connectedness, and drive) and evolves in four steps (preparing, orienting, integrating and excelling).
Best Practices for Fast and Easy New Employee Onboarding
Now, as you understand the importance of onboarding, we are ready to let you into the secret of making the new employee onboarding process fast and easy. We have gathered 22 best practices for you to enhance your employee retention and performance rates. What’s more, we complement our list with the recommendations on tools which can assist you in this process.
Step 1. Prepare
- Design corporate onboarding plans (use Smartsheet, Clear Company, StepShot Guides, or SilkRoad).
- Create step-by-step guides or a knowledge base for fast and easy onboarding on company products, software tools, or routine procedures (StepShot Guides, eXo, Google Drive).
- Prepare a new employee, provide them with the background materials described in the previous practices and your contacts, just in case.
- Prepare a workstation for a newcomer, make sure it’s clean and ready to use.
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Step 2. Orient
- Design and execute formal orientation procedures (for planning, you can also use the aforementioned tools).
- Set clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations to make a newcomer feel comfortable in the new position; be ready to discuss related employee’s concerns.
- Talk about how a usual workday goes in your company.
Step 3. Incorporate
- Welcome the newcomer on the first day.
- Do an office tour for the new coworker.
- Introduce the new team member to other staff.
- Provide access to necessary credentials, tools, keys, etc. to enable a new hire to use the required software and hardware.
- Assign a mentor to assist the newcomer during the onboarding process.
- Arrange a team lunch to communicate in a less formal atmosphere.
- Provide appropriate and durable training at the office or onboarding online (take advantage of Lessonly, StepShot Guides, Confluence).
Step 4. Involve & Motivate
- Engage the new hire in teamwork.
- Explain organizational strategy and the newcomer’s role in its accomplishment.
- Delineate bonuses and a reward system if applicable.
- Celebrate the achievements of the newcomer – but not only with material incentives.
Step 5. Keep Track
- Track the onboarding process and direct its course if necessary (BambooHR, Lessonly, Jira).
- Follow-up: ask, answer, assess, and provide feedback for employee performance.
- Hold stakeholder check-in meetings to check on employee work.
- Make sure that the newcomer is not overwhelmed with everything at once, keep the onboarding at a steady pace.
Download Onboarding Process Checklist
We have shared best practices to make the onboarding process fast, easy, and much more effective than what happened in Angela’s story. Should her employer have known all this, her onboarding experience on her first day would have been much more successful and the chances she would become a dedicated and productive worker would have increased substantially. The time she spent on waiting for someone to train her would have been spent on a fast and easy beginning to the onboarding process planned in advance.
Moreover, the special-purpose software will save employer time spent on repeated onboarding instead of developing the business. You can create onboarding materials and step-by-step guides once and share them again and again with minimal updates. In this case, apart from considerable time saving, the onboarding process will become much more cost-efficient and effective in terms of employee productivity and retention.