The candidate onboarding process is vital for any company seeking success in retaining new hires — a smoother process with attention to detail yields long-term results with low turnover rates.
Glassdoor reported that when organizations carry out smooth and efficient onboarding, retention rates improve by 80 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent.
On the other hand, when the process isn’t effectively laid out for new hires, this results in a high turnover rate, with some organizations seeing up to 20 percent turnover within the first 45 days of employment.
When creating a smooth process, it is crucial to understand that the types and number of tasks a new hire has to undertake - and time given to complete the entire process - can vary depending on the structure and nature of an organization.
Let’s dive into making the process smoother by understanding how to set goals and milestones, looking at mistakes you should avoid, and how using HR technology can alleviate some of the lengthy, drawn-out procedures.
Onboarding: A Brief Introduction
Onboarding, on the whole, can be perceived as an activity that all well-meaning employers undertake as a way to welcome new hires. For some, this means having new employees undertake a series of tasks over a month, while for others, over a few months.
Most companies tend to get creative - or not at all - when it comes to onboarding, but the general gist of the process stays relatively the same. For any enterprise wishing to retain talent and build a strong connection, it is worth getting acquainted with the various phases.
When seeking to thrive for success, it is essential to understand to ease the workload for new hires. One such way would be by opting for a preboarding process once a candidate has accepted the employment offer.
During preboarding, administrative work such as assigning personnel with their company accounts and any other documentation can be completed before the start of the first working day. If the organization uses specific communication applications, this should also be set up for the new hire during the preboarding process.
Onboarding processes and orientation often get mixed up, but the two are entirely different. Onboarding can take several months, whereas orientation generally occurs over one day. Orientation is still a significant part of the overall onboarding because, as an enterprise, you still want to show new hires that they are welcomed.
Orientation allows companies to show their value to new employees. It is also when introductions, such as introducing workers to their teammates and managers happen. Some orientation processes include giving tours of the organization’s facilities.
Some new hires come from an extensive background with years of work experience but are still expected to undergo training as not all organizations have the same working environment, culture, and the number of employees.
For instance, a new hire might have worked in a company with 50 employees. In contrast, the new company has 100, meaning they would have to undergo specific training sessions to immerse themselves and understand the new company's culture fully.
Companies that don’t have a full onboarding process might just have separate technical training sessions for different departments. Some training sessions include ensuring the new staff understands the company's technological infrastructure and process. If the job specification requires specialized technology and equipment, this would also be covered in training.
Training can be separate from onboarding, but for any enterprise seeking success, training employees should become an integral part of the whole process. The two go hand-in-hand where staff learn how to adjust to a new working environment and culture and pick up on technical skills that will help them achieve their personal and the company's overall goals.
Onboarding: Mistakes to Avoid
At first glance, onboarding might sound like it’s an easy feat to accomplish. After all, it’s about aligning new hires to the organization’s goals, visions, and mission. More than that, it’s about facilitating a smooth transition from a previous working environment to a new one.
Yet, many enterprises fall short in doing so. How can you expect new hires to align with your goals and visions if you aren’t aware of them? As an organization, you must establish clear expectations with new hires. Without clarification, how can you ensure that you can communicate this through in the onboarding process?
A report by Harvard Business Review found that 60 percent of businesses aren’t establishing clear goals or milestones for new employees resulting in workers feeling clueless about what they’re supposed to achieve throughout the onboarding process.
Another common mistake is not knowing where to put your money for onboarding. Many companies spend the extra mile on new hires but not on giving them the desired experiences. Unfortunately, these organizations fail to view onboarding as an investment.
Essentially, the onboarding process should be viewed as an investment because you are investing in a new hire who will join the organization and work towards ensuring that the company sees long-term success.
Some enterprises treat the onboarding process as an investment but fail to achieve successful onboarding outcomes because the process is too short and simplistic.
One might think that a short onboarding process means the new hire is happy and doesn’t feel encumbered with the numerous tasks they have to undertake. But it’s quite the opposite.
A shorter onboarding that lasts only for a week to a month isn’t sufficient, especially for an organization where the job specifications are pretty detailed, or when complex tasks need to be completed.
SHRM reports that the onboarding process should at least be carried out for one year. However, the process should be carefully laid out, and strategies should be implemented to achieve maximum efficiency and yield results.
Knowing what not to do will create a clear path on what you should be doing and what you should be incorporating into your onboarding process to achieve higher retention rates and overall efficiency. Let’s dive into suggestions and tips for building and crafting a strategic onboarding process.
Onboarding: Making it Smoother
Here are six ways to change and adapt your onboarding process to make it smoother, reliable, and less tedious.
To begin with, you should focus on the pre-boarding process, which entails getting ahead with completing all the necessary paperwork and setting up employee accounts. Not all organizations implement this, so when new hires start on day one, they’re often overwhelmed with the number of tasks they have to complete.
To make the pre-boarding process effortless, one should look towards investing in any type of application or software such as an online portal because it would allow new hires to quickly check tasks, company protocols, documentation, and other information as they are preparing to begin working in a new environment and culture.
2. Time is money
As the saying goes, time is money. If the onboarding process is too short, you risk facing a high turnover rate which can be costly. Employee turnover rates sometimes place an organization in hot waters as the cost can be substantially high. As Netsuite cited, the employee replacement cost can sometimes be more than the actual salary the employee is being paid. In some cases, the cost is twice the amount of the employee’s salary.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the whole onboarding process is spaced out for at least one year, or if not a year, then more than a month. Having a longer process means that a new hire can take the time to evaluate all aspects of the enterprise fully, lodge any inquiries and learn to align their own goals, missions, and values with the organization, and take the time to build long-lasting connections.
One tip would be to space out tasks instead of assigning all functions in one go. For instance, all administrative tasks should be handled before the first working day or in the first few weeks. At the same time, more job-specific tasks can be undertaken over the duration of weeks and months. This way, the new hire won’t feel as overwhelmed and can slowly learn as they go.
3. Make them feel valued
It can be tough adjusting when we start in a new workplace. Feeling like your teammates and the organization does not value you is even more challenging. It’s pertinent for any enterprise to make new hires feel like they are valued and cared for. It’s one of the most critical components of retaining new hires.
Not quite sure how you can make new workers feel valued? Start by slowly easing them into the workforce. Don’t assign them too many tasks on the first day or the first few weeks. Instead, make new hires feel they are an integral part of the organization.
If a single board member can take the time out to say hello, give a few warm words of welcome, and quickly go over the company’s missions, strategies and goals can go a long way in providing new workers an invaluable experience. Moreover, this will reassure them that they belong to this organization, thus motivating them to stay loyal and put more effort into their work.
4. Treat onboarding as an investment
While many companies spend on the onboarding process, they don’t view it as an investment that can benefit the company in the long run. The onboarding process should be treated like an experience for the new hire and not just a compulsory process for getting them aligned with a unique working environment.
Investing in the right tools such as applications and software and investing in more time to carefully carry out each task efficiently and effectively can save the company from having to deal with high turnover rates and negative perceptions/reviews from the new hires.
5. Have a buddy/mentor system
As the onboarding process and retaining employees centers around making new and long-lasting connections, new organizations should be mindful and implement a buddy or mentoring system.
It can be overwhelming for new hires to enter a new working environment, especially if they relocate from another country. Thus, having a buddy who acts like a mentor can help relieve some of the pressure and stress.
A mentor can act like a guide who will help facilitate all tasks and ensure that the new employee can smoothly progress throughout the onboarding process. Retention can be maintained through building connections in a buddy/mentor system. New hires can ask questions and get the appropriate responses promptly instead of relying solely on an online portal or the employee handbook.
As SHRM states in their report on understanding employee onboarding, an informal or formal mentoring/buddy system can go a long way in supporting a new worker throughout the process. If the organization is vast and contains many different departments, it would be advisable to have a buddy/mentor from the same working department instead of someone working in an entirely different department from the new hire.
Moreover, SHRM states that one way to make new hires feel well-connected in a buddy system would be by assigning the new hire to someone who was a recent hire and had just completed the onboarding process. This way, the recent hire can facilitate any questions and provide more up-to-date knowledge than someone who completed the process many years prior.
It would also make the new hire feel more comfortable knowing that someone else has passed the process and is already well acclimated to the company. Thus, motivating the new worker to work harder and become more dedicated to a new working environment.
6. Consistently Provide Feedback
The candidate has passed the onboarding process's initial phases, which means they expect some form of feedback. What happens if you fail to provide that feedback? It results in the new hire feeling unvalued and lost in what they have to improve or what they’ve been doing well.
It is crucial to ensure that the process in which feedback is provided is carried out as if it’s a two-way street. Feedback should be given from the new hire about the overall process, what they found challenging, what they enjoyed, how their mentors/buddies have been, and their general feelings. While simultaneously making sure that the new hire receives up-to-date feedback from the manager or department head.
Constant feedback allows an organization to assess what works and what doesn’t work and use it as checks to improve for future hires as the end goal is to retain employees and build a strong network.
For new hires, managers or mentors should be vigilant in providing feedback throughout the process, not just in a one-off shot. If the tasks are to be carried out over a series of months, then regular check-ins should also be carried out between thirty, sixty, and ninety-day increments.
To facilitate a two-way system of providing feedback, using an online portal or application which allows for custom creation of questionnaires and surveys can eliminate handing out paperwork and extensive hours of reviewing each new hire. It would also alleviate some of the pressure new employees might face, where they might not feel obliged to provide negative feedback.
But through an online questionnaire or portal, they can confidently provide honest feedback. The company can use this as a future reference to measure what’s working and not. In turn, they can set goals and targets for future onboarding processes.
Once you know the right tips and the best strategies for building a solid onboarding process, you should consider using HR software to make the process smoother and less hectic/stressful.
Using HR software for a smoother onboarding process
One of the easiest ways to make the onboarding process smoother for all involved is using powerful tools and applications. Having a reliable tool in your toolbox can be just the thing that drives you ahead of your competition and helps you to retain a strong workforce of new hires.
Preboarding processes such as providing documentation and getting new hires to understand the company culture, brand, and vision can be done from the time you scout for these candidates by using a career page.
Moreover, when the new hire has accepted the offer letter, you can use HR software through a collaboration and activities feature in an applicant tracking system tool to assign new employees to a team and even delegate tasks. New workers can use built-in portals to lodge any inquiries they may have. It also gives managers, recruiters, and other employees in that specific team a chance to monitor the progress of the new employee.
As mentioned in one of the six things you should be doing throughout your onboarding process, which is that feedback is essential, you can use the online portal of an HR tool such as a report and analytics feature to collect data from feedback. The new hire would first and foremost be required to fill in some online forms such as a questionnaire or survey, and the input can be shown as data or metrics that can be used for future improvement or as an assessment tool.
Some software even allows for automated emails to be sent, which can also be a great way of providing feedback. For instance, if a new hire has ticked off a task on their team page or portal, a manager or department head can set up automated emails to be sent out after each task guaranteeing that feedback is provided consistently.
When HR software is used together with the six ways of making the candidate onboarding process smoother, you have a robust process guaranteeing that retention rates remain high and overall turnover rates remain low. It’s another sure-fire way of driving your company towards the path of success and accomplishing all your goals, missions, and visions as one collective unit.
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