This is the weekly Careers newsletter.
Radhika Panjwani is a former journalist from Toronto and a blogger.
Companies go the whole nine yards to court and recruit high-quality applicants, but if the quality of their onboarding process isn’t equally high, it could determine whether the new hire stays or goes.
Employee onboarding refers to the orientation, events and training that introduce a new hire to the company and their role in it.
Onboarding celebrates a new employee’s role and facilitates the learning of all the critical components of the company’s structure, mission, values and operating norms, says Susy Martins, chief executive officer of Advise2Rise, a Kitchener, Ont.-based human resources firm focused on leadership and executive coaching. Poor onboarding practices that don’t put an emphasis on employee experiences or lack focus on relationship-building will hinder an organization’s efforts to retain talent, she says.
“Employee onboarding is truly the honeymoon period for an employee,” Ms. Martins says. “An organized and energy-packed onboarding is critical for new hires to feel like they are part of the team and are being set up for success.”
Most organizations don’t do a good job during onboarding. According to a blog post on the job portal Indeed, almost 20 per cent of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of a new employee’s start date. And 90 per cent of new employees decide whether they want to stay long-term or work elsewhere within the first six months. The onboarding process plays a big part in their decision, notes the blog.
While researching his book, Onboarded, Brad Giles, chief executive officer of Evolution Partners, an Australian leadership coaching company, discovered many managers find new hires to be fully productive in approximately six months, and in the case of a below-average new hire, up to nine months.
An effective onboarding however can ensure new hires are fully productive in three months, Mr. Giles writes in the CEOWorld magazine. The difference between a new hire who’s fully productive within three months, compared with nine months, represents a 40-per-cent improvement in productivity, he adds.
“Onboarding may seem like a soft HR process that gets in the way of busy managers, but the majority of companies are wasting real money by failing to implement this simple, yet highly impactful process,” Mr. Giles writes.
In the company’s blog, Webonboarding, a global cloud-based automated recruitment and onboarding company, shared anecdotes of poor onboarding experiences.
“I turned up at a new job to find the person who hired me was away for a week and no one else knew what I was supposed to do,” wrote an employee. “No desk, nothing. Standing in the middle of the office while they all just looked at me blankly.”
Another wrote, “I was given a stack of papers to fill out that had been copied so many times that you could not read them.”
Ms. Martins says a successful onboarding process must create activities to foster employee goodwill and relationship-building. For instance, it’s good practice for the organization to remain in-touch with the candidate between offer-signing and start date. A seamless technical onboarding and compliance process, which could involve straightforward things such as setting-up a laptop, activating access cards and ensuring all critical policy signoffs happen, are equally important, she says.
Within the first few days, new hires must ideally participate in organizational foundation activities that discuss the “‘why” of the organization and how that’s executed, says Ms. Martins. New employees must be introduced to other individuals across the company as well as become familiar with various internal communication tools, including how to request time off, file expenses or sign-up for new-hire buddy or other mentoring programs.
Once the company-level onboarding period has been completed, new employees should progress into job-specific onboarding activities.
“Onboarding is the ongoing process of integrating a new member into the team and is not a one-and-done activity,” Ms. Martins says. “When thought of broadly, employee onboarding normally takes three months.”
Given the high cost of recruiting and replacing an employee (various studies show a range of about $4,000 to $20,000), organizations delivering successful onboarding will need to measure the effectiveness of their onboarding through surveys of both the new hires as well as their leaders, she says.
Companies with remote and hybrid models of working must incorporate a mix of online instructor-led training as well as self-directed sessions.
Ms. Martins’s advice for organizations wanting to establish successful online onboarding are:
“Every employee, not just the HR team, owns onboarding,” Ms. Martins says. “This mindset might be one of the most important aspects to include in your onboarding programs to instill a sense of team from day one. At the end of the day, we all want to do our best work, feel like we belong and that our work matters.”
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