5 Steps to Improving Your Employee Onboarding Process
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A survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2015 polled 10,500 workers who had recently changed jobs. They found that a majority (59 percent) made the move to pursue better opportunities and a stronger career path.
Entrepreneur came to an interesting conclusion when citing that statistic: “it’s important to inform new hires about their opportunities at your organization and provide them with an engaging onboarding process that prepares them for their role. A poor onboarding process fails to do that, and likely causes productivity to suffer as a result.”
Imagine that: lowering attrition rates and improving productivity simply by communicating more effectively? As any HR professional knows, accomplishing those tasks will have a direct, positive impact on your company’s bottom line, and can be considered a huge win for Human Resources if it can be reliably tracked back to the hiring and onboarding process your department heads up.
As it turns out, improving communication during the onboarding process is just one of a number of important steps you can take to optimize the first few weeks or months of a new hire’s career with your organization. Here are five thought-provoking ways HR professionals can improve the employee onboarding process:
Document the onboarding plan
This simple but vital first step accomplishes two positive purposes:
- It forces you, and the entire HR team, to give plenty of conscious thought to establishing a structured and effective onboarding process that could otherwise be left largely to chance.
- It offers new hires a very clear and understandable roadmap to help guide them through what could otherwise be an overwhelming first few weeks or months of employment when they’re already expected to soak in a lot of new information and assimilate themselves into the organization.
From a practical standpoint, documenting your onboarding plan also makes it easier on current and future members of the HR team, since there will always be an established and documented process to refer to when questions are raised by new trainers, HR associates, and others involved in the onboarding process.
And, it keeps everyone on the same page, streamlining the process and improving efficiency.
Offer a clear career path
During the first six months of their tenure (at the most), new employees will have made a decision about whether or not they see themselves sticking with your company long-term. As noted by the LinkedIn survey, if they don’t see a clear career path that’s both realistically attainable and professionally attractive, they’re going to start looking for other opportunities.
One of your key goals during the initial onboarding process is to make sure every employee obtains a clear understanding of the full scope of opportunities available within the company and exactly what they will need to do to accomplish whatever long-term career goals they have.
By doing so, you not only improve the chances that quality employees will see valid reason to stay on with the company after the first few months, but you’ll also set expectations that can be used down the road to coach toward improvement and/or support future personnel decisions. It effectively helps put HR back in the driver’s seat rather than perpetuating a reactive strategy of constantly responding to unexpected resignations by bringing on more new hires.
Maintain open communication
Of course, improving communication during the onboarding process doesn’t just mean telling new hires what they need to know. Communication is a two-way street and smart HR professionals will want to take full advantage of employee feedback throughout (and after) onboarding in order to make sure the process is meeting the needs of both the employee and the company.
Maintaining this open line of communication can be as simple as scheduling a 10-minute weekly one-on-one with new hires for the first several weeks just to sit down and chat about how things are going and what suggestions or requests they may have. It doesn’t even need to be that formal, depending on the size of your company and the culture you’ve established. Just a quick, informal conversation over the water cooler or an email thread can accomplish the same purpose.
At the close of the official onboarding process, it can be beneficial to incorporate a formal survey or interview to provide an opportunity for any final input from the employee as they make their transition into whatever comes next. This can serve both as a chance to identify any holes in their knowledge (which really translates to holes in your training process) and a chance to celebrate their accomplishments, which can prove a powerful morale boost.
Establish a “Quality of Hire” formula
Failing to measure and track employees’ progress through the entire onboarding process is a wasted opportunity. The adage states, “what gets measured improves.” Without effective tracking and analysis, all your other efforts to optimize onboarding are really just theoretical.
“Quality of hire” is considered the gold standard when it comes to onboarding metrics. This refers to the value new employees bring to the company. Since employees can offer value in various ways, there’s no concrete formula in place, but it should be fairly easy to establish a baseline formula for new hires in your organization (perhaps separated by department and/or individual roles).
For instance, a new sales associate’s quality of hire may include their overall revenue generated and conversion rate as compared to various time and experience-based benchmarks. The quality of hire of a marketing professional would necessarily have very different components, but would accomplish the same purpose: determining how valuable a given employee has become at various stages in their onboarding process.
By establishing this important metric, you’re able to demonstrate how effective the recruitment team is at finding and onboarding the right people for each available job and tying that level of effectiveness directly to other important metrics such as revenue and profitability.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of a company’s culture on the success and satisfaction of every new employee. As highlighted by The Association for Talent Development, “for employees who get sideways glances from co-workers every time they leave before 6 p.m., report to a boss who constantly breathes down their neck, or feel stymied by having to wear a full suit every single day, not even a big paycheck will keep them at that job — at least not for long.”
So, optimizing the onboarding process also needs to incorporate a healthy amount of education and guidance when it comes to company culture. Logically, before that can be done effectively, you’ll need to give serious thought to defining the company culture in a way that can be easily and consistently taught, and ensuring that the culture is appealing for new hires rather than a turnoff that could lead to rising attrition rates.
Accomplishing this will likely go far beyond just the HR team, but it’s HR’s responsibility to make sure whatever culture the company has or will establish can be translated appropriately and in the best possible light during the onboarding process.
These five steps will likely take some time and effort to plan out, document, and put into practice. But the bottom line results of doing so are well worth the effort.
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