An effective onboarding strategy is key to giving your new hires the best possible start.
Unfortunately, onboarding is often given low priority or partially neglected during the hiring process. However, merging your hiring and onboarding processes can lead to a more seamless transition that adequately sets new hires up for success and boosts your long-term retention rates.
This strategy goes beyond the first few weeks of hiring a new employee. It is a continuous process focused on ensuring the recruit knows how to handle the ropes properly.
Having a seamless onboarding strategy in place cannot be overemphasized. It aids your new employees in reaching their full potential faster, contributing to the organization's advancement and growth. Let's get started with the definition of an onboarding strategy.
What's an onboarding strategy?
An onboarding strategy is a long-term plan geared towards ensuring the new employee transition smoothly into the company. It encompasses all the activities from orientation to various training and other developmental activities that ensure the new hire gets accustomed to the company's culture.
A new hire onboarding strategy should achieve the following:
- Integrate new employees with the company's culture and standards.
- Increase the chances of the recruits being successful on the job.
- Help them establish a good rapport with their colleagues.
- Help them clearly understand their job roles and expectations.
- Teach the new employee how to successfully handle their task with little or no supervision.
- Boost the trust and confidence of the new employee.
- Provide them with all the necessary information, support, and knowledge for their career development.
Why is it important to have an onboarding strategy?
“I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them the potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.” — Sarah Wetzel, Director of Human Resources at engage:BDR.
According to a survey carried out by BambooHR, it was revealed that 80% of new employees who experienced an effective onboarding process hold their company in high esteem.
For example, research shows that 46% of new hires fail within their first 18 months. While many factors may contribute to this, better onboarding could have played a huge role in speeding up the integration of new hires with team processes, standards, and culture — hence, increasing their chances of success on the job.
Let's dive into some of the importance of an onboarding strategy.
Creates positive first impressions
An effective onboarding strategy would not only create a positive first impression in the new hire's mind towards the company but also create a positive effect on the company branding.
The new hires would likely share their experiences with their contacts which indirectly or directly promotes the company brand.
Instead of making your new hires feel unwelcome and unvalued, it is important to make them feel appreciated and valued. This creates a lasting impression.
Helps new hires settle down in their jobs
Strategic onboarding is the right time to help recruits settle into different roles. It helps them get familiarized with the respective departments and how they are interrelated in achieving the company, policies, processes, and overall goals from the get-go
This way, new hires integrate smoothly and get up to speed with their work much faster. This helps them to become more productive and have fewer frustrations in the workplace.
Saves you from additional expenses incurred from turnover
Effective onboarding can help reduce turnover and save a company from incurring extra expense. The average financial cost of replacing an employee can cost one-half or twice the initial annual paycheck.
Therefore, HR leaders need to start considering setting up effective onboarding as an investment rather than an expense.
Retaining new employees
The onboarding strategy employed by the hiring team will determine if the new employees will stay or not.
Gallup found that employees are 2.6 times more likely to stay committed to their employers after a successful onboarding experience.
When they feel connected to the company at an early stage, they become motivated to give in their best and are less likely to quit prematurely or without notice.
Increases Employee engagement
A positive onboarding experience will not only motivate employees to perform their roles better but also encourage them to be creative while at it.
A study shows 83% of employers say good induction and onboarding are essential to engage their workforce. Another study shows 54% of companies with good onboarding enjoy higher employee engagement rates.
Employee engagement starts from the pre-boarding process, and this should be increased over time by engaging new hires with different tasks. Let’s now look at ways to improve your onboarding.
7 onboarding strategies you should include in your hiring process
You can't build a solid building on a weak foundation. Onboarding is a journey and part of your new hire's employee experience.
With this in mind, we will be looking at 7 onboarding strategies that should be included in your hiring process.
Use pre-boarding to create a great first impression
Starting the onboarding process before hiring has many advantages. The first significant advantage is employee retention; sometimes, a recruit will get cold feet and decline the job offer before the start date.
Starting the onboarding process can help alleviate the anxiety that can cause an employee to decline the position.
Starting the onboarding process early also helps initiate the recruits so they can begin working effectively right away. The recruits are also less likely to experience negative culture shock when they join, making them more likely to engage positively with their role.
Early onboarding also applies to hiring freelance writers and other freelance professionals; some steps are different, but the guiding principle is the same.
Let's look at how early onboarding helps. A case study of an education tech company's hiring problems found an early, intuitive onboarding process was the solution. The company expanded its workforce from 250 employees to 550 in 2020. But their onboarding process was found to be 'disjointed' and lacking in pre-onboarding material.
The solution was to incorporate all onboarding elements into one seamless platform so recruits could be onboarded hassle-free. Degreed also found onboarding early had many benefits.
After implementing the solution, the company found it was easy to scale its hiring process.
The quality of the hiring process improved. Instead of being 'disjointed,' 97% of recruits found the process was favorable. Also, the back-office hiring process was reduced from four hours to about thirty minutes. Overall, streamlining the hiring process and pre-onboarding recruits increased productivity and bottom-line success.
Incorporate learning & development (L&D) into the onboarding experience
Ideally, you want recruits to work optimally from day one, as time spent familiarizing recruits with your company's processes and procedures hurts productivity. But according to Gallup, only 29% of new hires say they feel fully prepared and supported to excel in their role even after their onboarding experience.
So, making learning part of the hiring process is essential. Recruits will be more familiar with the company's operations before they begin, meaning they can work optimally right away.
Good learning tools to include are:
- Software tutorials
- Videos on company values & procedures
- Brief one-on-one sessions with a manager
But remember, the learning materials need to be high-quality and engaging to get results.
Use mentorship programs
According to Sage, 93% of small/medium-sized businesses believe mentorship programs will help them succeed, but only 28% of those businesses use a mentorship program. So get ahead of the competition by using mentorship programs to increase retention rates, boost employee performance, and make employees feel like they belong.
But how should I structure the mentorship program? There are a few approaches; you can use traditional one-on-one mentoring or group mentoring. One-on-mentoring is tailored to the individual and gets the best results, but group mentoring can encourage more knowledge-sharing.
Once you’ve decided on the mentoring style, you need to establish a goal. What are you trying to achieve using the mentorship program? The goal of the mentoring will influence the next step: mentor pairing.
Pairing your recruit with the right mentor is crucial. The mentor needs to have the right skills and experience, similar career background, and a compatible communication style (and shared interests, if possible). Together's automated pairing software would match the new hires with the best suitable mentor. Plus, analyzing the program and getting feedback on their progress is easier.
After a good match is found, the mentor and mentee need to draw up an employee development plan. The plan should include logistics (when and where the meetings will take place), expectations, and desired outcomes.
It’s also important to periodically check in with participants. How are they finding the program? What’s working and what isn’t? Periodically checking in with participants means that you can resolve any issues and make improvements wherever needed.
At Together, we have a plethora of features to accommodate different mentoring programs you could pick to get your new hires on the right foot. It would help your employees enjoy and experience a unified learning journey.
Integrate all the touchpoints on the employee onboarding journey
Essentially, onboarding should set the tone between new hires and the organization. Hence, the need to ensure different touchpoints of the employee's journey are well integrated concerning organization culture, values, and goals.
Introducing all the available opportunities into the onboarding journey is another strategy that should be included in the hiring process. It is expedient to show the new hires all the touch points included in their journey. This makes them feel part of the company's success and progress.
New hires want to see the growth potentials and opportunities in the company.
There are various key touch points in an employee onboarding journey. However, this varies from one organization to the other and also on the role the employee performs. In some companies, onboarding starts during the recruitment process, while in others, it starts after the employee is hired.
A typical employee touch points cover the employee's entire life cycle on the job. But there are four crucial touchpoints in an employee onboarding journey. They are recruitment, onboarding, performance evaluation, and professional development.
Create an effective orientation program
If you have an effective orientation program in place, it shows your recruit the company is engaged with the transition. A recruit is more likely to transition successfully into the role if they feel taken care of.
A good orientation program includes preparing a workspace and assigning a mentor to the recruit.
But before they arrive, they should have access to orientation material and necessary documentation through a web portal. Accessing orientation material and documentation before starting means they can familiarize themselves with the company and fill in paperwork comfortably at home. Don’t make it difficult for them to do this.
You should also provide the recruits with a work schedule. That’s so the recruits are aware of their shifts before they start.
Help new hires appreciate and understand the company culture
Every company has its own unique culture, standards, ethics, and rules and regulations that everyone working in the company must adhere to.
One strategy every hiring team or manager must implement is ensuring the new hires understand the company culture. This would enable them to appreciate the company more.
Understanding the culture contributes to how fast and well the recruits will be incorporated into the organization. Rather than only focusing on the job descriptions, expectations, and roles, enough time should be spent instilling the working culture.
The company's culture should also be propagated during daily activities, not just on the first day or first week of work.
Create a collection of new hire resources to avoid overwhelm
Starting a new job can be overwhelming, especially when the team has no guides or support. Onboarding is a learning curve stage for a new hire. Equipping them with valuable resources that contain basic information, workflows, materials, and resources is another strategy that makes onboarding effective.
Creating a collection of helpful resources will come in handy when they get stuck with tasks. Instead of the new employees to keep bugging their colleagues and managers at every little challenge, they turn to the available collection of learning resources. Videos can be a great way of engaging new employees and won’t leave them stuck reading long, boring documents. PlayPlay's guide to creating professional videos suggests creating a good script to ensure that your videos deliver clear messages, as well as adding subtitles to make your videos accessible to everyone.
Omitting this last strategy can stunt the new employee's progress, affecting their productivity. It is important to provide new hires access to internal web pages containing guidebooks or tutorial videos that outline different processes and procedures they need to know.
The four elements of an effective onboarding strategy
The success or failure of an onboarding process depends on how the strategy was developed and implemented.
Every effective onboarding strategy must have these four essential elements.
An onboarding strategy without a clear-cut end goal in mind is likely to fail before it even starts.
The hiring team should state what they intend to achieve at the end of the onboarding process, which could span up to a year.
Having a clear-cut goal contributes to the effectiveness of the entire process. The new hire should clearly understand what is expected of them.
The new hires should be able to have access to helpful resources and a support team at all times.
The hiring team should include representatives from the recruits department that are easily accessible to make them acquainted with themselves.
Relationship is one of the elements that makes onboarding effective. The relationship built in the first few months can last the recruits through their work life cycle.
The feeling of being respected and belonging cannot be easily forgotten, unlike some things taught during the orientation program.
The HR department must ensure that the recruit and other employees establish a real working relationship during onboarding.
Encourage them to cultivate and build internal connections by introducing them to departments, key stakeholders, and managers.
As an element of onboarding strategy, context is the process of providing new hires with the necessary background information to understand their job. This set a strong foundation for maximizing employee engagement and productivity.
Additionally, this could include the working environment, office space, technology, furniture, machines, and other tools that are relevant to the job role. Every onboarding strategy must put this element into consideration.
The new hires must have access to a good working environment and tools to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently. The right working environment also serves as a source of motivation for the employees.
Building effective onboarding strategies within your hiring process is essential. The right onboarding strategies will not only set up your new hires for success but also improve their performances and boost your organization's retention rates.
By incorporating the above seven best practices in your onboarding, you're set towards building an onboarding process that ensures new hires feel welcome, engaged, and ready to unleash their potential in their new role.