Everything You Need to Know About Employee Onboarding
Winning the war for the best talent is only part of building a successful team. An effective employee onboarding process is vital to the success of new hires.
Once your company secures the best talent, you will need to take your new hires through the onboarding process to position them to succeed from day one.
Onboarding is the highest impact period of new workers. Infact, a study by the Aberdeen Group has shown that 87% of employees are not completely committed to a new job for the first six months.
When putting together your process, the decisions you make will affect how your new hire will view your company, their productivity level and contribution to your company, and whether or not they will stay on to be a valuable member of your team.
This does not have to be a daunting task. We’re here to help (as always), by serving you some primo knowledge on everything you need to know about employee onboarding.
Having a strong employee onboarding process can help you engage and retain employees from day one. It can also help your recruits ramp faster so that they can be a productive part of your company sooner. Candidate experience is a big part of attracting and retaining top talent for your company.
The employee onboarding process produces more consistent results if the process is standardised. You could work together with your leadership team, IT team, hiring managers, payroll, and all relevant teams to build a predictable and repeatable process over the first 90 days of new hires.
Drawing up an Employee Onboarding SOP could really help make things easier. We have some advice on how to draw up a SOP for automated processes here. <embed our SOP blog link>
What is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of providing new workers with the knowledge and tools they would need to be a success at the company and their job. It is getting your new hire fully prepared to be productive in their role.
While some companies have skewed towards an administrative-focused onboarding process, more savvy and committed companies have opted for a more strategic process. A strategic approach that fully integrates a new employee with the company and its culture has proved to build more productive and engaging teams.
Employee onboarding programs can last three months to a year. It may seem like a lot for onboarding programs to go on for three months, but a more comprehensive and ongoing process has proved to be worth the time and effort.
Also, keep in mind that there are different levels within the process that require varying amounts of effort and resources, with the later stages focused on training, gathering feedback and making improvements to the candidate experience.
During the onboarding period, a new hire is acclimated to the company’s values, culture, systems, and processes.
The process includes meets-and-greets with the team, getting software and devices set up, setting expectations and objectives, training for the role and measuring the success of the onboarding program.
When your business is growing, you may also choose to onboard a cohort of new hires. This is recommended to avoid wasting time and resources in taking employees through the onboarding process one by one. It also fosters a sense of camaraderie for new hires to go through the same process together and start at the same time.
Why is Effective Onboarding Important?
Employee onboarding is important because it properly introduces your new employee to the company and their role.
Research has shown that employees who have a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to start seeking new opportunities within the year.
A more structured, strategic approach goes beyond administration and paperwork. Not only will it help to retain the talent you’ve worked so hard to recruit, it will also help get them to a higher level of productivity faster.
Your new hires start to form opinions about your company from the moment they start. The onboarding time is the period when new hires either jump on board or jump ship.
It determines whether you will be engaging with the same haul of employees over the long term or whether you will be pouring out time and resources constantly re-training and re-introducing recruits to the company.
The cost of hiring new talent can sometimes cost 30% of the job’s salary, so it’s pretty clear why you would want to retain your talented workers for as long as possible. Training your hires properly costs far less and takes less time than constantly replacing them.
This training starts with onboarding.
Proper onboarding leads to happier employees, increased productivity, and saves you time and money at the end of the day.
Companies that believe that employees will get more work done if they immediately get to work after orientation
Even the most experienced and knowledgeable employees require a little direction.
According to research by Gallup, 88% of employees don’t believe that their companies do a good enough job of onboarding new employees.
BambooHR carried out a survey in which 31% of respondents said that they quit within the first six months. Of this, 23% said that they had not been given “clear guidelines” to what their responsibilities were, and 21% indicated that they wanted “more effective training”.
Before implementing an onboarding program, you should answer a few questions like:
How long will the onboarding process be?
When will the process start?
What do the new hires need to know about the company and its culture?
What impression do you want to make on your new hires at the end of day one?
What kind of goals do you want to set for new hires?
How will you determine and measure the effectiveness of the onboarding process?
Once this has been determined, a plan of action can be drawn up.
The plan of action involves pre-onboarding, welcoming new hires, training, and employees making the transition to their new role
So, you’ve just recruited a new candidate or cohort of new candidates to upscale your team. They’ve agreed to join your company, and now you’re ready to start the onboarding process.
Tip: Checking in weekly with your new hire before they start. You should want to supply you recruits with tall the tools they would need to do well and feel welcomed to the team
Main Goal: Set expectations, including about any actionable items they need to know about before their first day. Look to engage and answer all the questions your new hire would have so that they don’t need to ask them.
There are ways to prepare to make sure your new hires have the best start and are excited to be a productive part of your team. The key is to be as organised as possible, especially in cases of remote hires where you bring on a group of people.
Prepare the relevant paperwork and email this to your new hire to read. This includes the documents that they will need to digitally sign. This will allow the onboarding to move ahead without any hitch. It also gives your new hire time to properly read the paperwork without overwhelming them.
“You get the employee engagement you deserve. If you don’t engage with them, they won’t engage with you… This is particularly true at important moments of truth starting with how you onboard them,” says George Bradt, Forbes
It is important to keep lines of communication open and engage with your new hire in the window between offer acceptance and the start date to develop a strong working relationship with your candidate as early as possible. This instils confidence in your leadership and company and displays your commitment to seeing them become part of the team.
This communication should be friendly and informative. You want to give off the message that you’re excited for your recruit to start.
Providing training material
The training material should include everything that a recruit needs to learn about their role and the appropriate resources they will need to use.
Share expectations and all information and documentation relevant to their role.
Share a brief outline of what is to be expected of your new hire. This will give them a focus on having a strong start.
You can use the 30-60-90 method by setting goals and using the 30th, 60th, and 90th days as milestones.
Some background information on specific tasks they might take on when they officially begin (make sure to emphasise that this is voluntary reading for them to peruse when they have the time)
Prepare a task list in advance
This could include:
An itinerary for their first week (at least, or longer)
A checklist of initial goals and assignments
Make a task list for each new hire to anticipate their needs for their role. This list could include tasks for the first day, small projects for the first weeks and larger projects that can last them through the first three months
Hot Tip: Using software that helps teams organise, track, and manage their work (like Airtable, Slack, and Asana) to create online task checklists would make this step much easier to follow through.
Hot Tip: When trying to anticipate new hire needs, outline and write down all the things that need to be done to get ready for a new employee (for example setting up their email address, adding them to the team on Slack or Teams, etc)
Think about what your new hire would require as well and list it down
These task checklists can be used as task templates for the future. Make sure you note down the role the list was created for and the time frames for each task.
Send a welcoming gesture.
For remote employees, this could be as simple as a welcoming email saying you’re excited that they’re a part of the team with a gif/meme.
Inform the team members
Discuss the role, projects and goals with the employee’s supervisor and the people the new hire will be reporting to. Companies look disorganised when the people around them have no idea about their role in helping the new hires.
The Onboarding Process
So let’s say you have a new hire or a cohort of new hires. You’ve scheduled their starting date and the actual process of onboarding can begin.
Taking into account the average onboarding time period of 30 days, here is a list of everything that needs to take place
Orientation - Day One
An employee will always remember the first day of their new job, whether it be in-person or remote. The first day sets the tone for the rest of the employee’s time there and contributes to the employee’s initial impression of the company. If new hires are introduced to the company in a chaotic and disorganised way, this is what they will associate with the company.
During the first day, you should:
Officially welcome the new hire to the team and the company during orientation
Provide a formal introduction to the company’s policies and procedures
Outline expectations and objectives - recruits need to be as clear as possible on what is expected from what from day one. This is where you can share the task lists you have prepared.
Assign training material
Share all the information that your new employee needs to know about your company- from its mission to your procedures about your culture - whether it be working together online or in-person
Make sure to leave room for any questions that might arise.
Check in with your new hire after the first day to get a sense of how everything went.
The First Week
Induct your new hire/s into the company culture
Allow for the new hire to spend quality time and familiarise themselves with team members.
A good way for this to take place is through meet-and-greets (for both online and in-person teams)
Hot Tip: Include icebreakers and prepared questions at these meet-and-greets.
Make training real and more structured: Share all the training courses that they will need to do.
Schedule a first meeting with their direct manager/supervisor - this would be a good time for the manager to briefly go over their role-specifics and 90-day expectations with the new hire.
Make sure to leave room for any questions that may arise
Actual job training is objectively the most important part of the onboarding process. You hire a new employee when there is a job that needs to be done to grow your business, but when you are not communicating what needs to be done and providing the information and tools to do it correctly, you are setting your new hire up to fail.
You want to provide a training program that
Tip: Roll out content and material in digestible pieces - don’t overwhelm your new hires. You want to provide a manageable flow of information.
The First Three Months
Many companies focus on just one week one of onboarding, leaving new hires feeling discouraged, confused, and lacking important resources, according to the Human Capital Institute.
The initial months set the tone for the rest of the employee’s tenure. This is where your new hires go through employee training. The main goal is to get them on track and ready for their roles.
"If you aren't communicating what new hires are supposed to be doing and arming them with the tools to do it properly, you're setting them up to fail," says Ben Peterson, the CEO of BambooHR.
Hot Tip: When you figure out which onboarding preparation and decisions worked best for your new hire or cohort make sure to make templates to streamline the process in the future.
During this stage you should:
Plan check-in meetings
It is important to check in with your new hire after one month in to see whether they are engaged, happy, and have all the tools to do their best.
Explain long term goals
Carry out role-specific training
Make sure you aren’t flooding your new hire with new information. While it’s understandable that you want to provide them with as much as you can for them to be productive faster, you should provide training in a manageable flow
Get feedback on their onboarding experience to see if there is room for improvement
Ease your new hires into their new role
During onboarding training, the main goal is to get them on track and ready for their roles. This is when your
Check in with your new employee after three months as these initial months are crucial in determining whether your employee stays at your company.
Employee Onboarding vs Orientation – and why you need both
In some companies, onboarding is often confused with orientation. Orientation is a one-time event for new hires in which they are officially welcomed to your company. Onboarding is a comprehensive process involving other workers and management that positions the employee to be a productive and engaged part of the company.
At orientation, new hires are formally introduced to the company’s mission and values. They are given the necessary paperwork and carry out other routine tasks.
Orientation is not the onboarding process - it is just part of it. After orientation is completed, the new hire is ready to commence training. After the onboarding process is carried out, the employee is ready to contribute fully to the company.
An effective onboarding process should leave employees poised for success at your company and eager to make a difference.
An automated onboarding process allows new hires to experience a consistent and strong onboarding.
Not being clear about purpose
Unfortunately, 60% of companies fail to set goals or milestones for recruits.
When employees are uncertain about what their work and projects do for the team or the company as a whole, they are not productive or urgent in their work. This could have an impact on their quality of work and response to deadlines.
22% of companies have no formal onboarding process