Why onboarding should be more than simple orientation
The transition from new hire to ready to retire requires a lot of steps, but the first is onboarding.
Most companies view onboarding as a means to integrate new hires into the culture of the company. Unfortunately, most companies have yet to update their onboarding process past the age-old new hire employee orientation. With the mountains of paperwork that need to be completed, as well as policies and procedures that need to be communicated and confirmed, few have even considered changing the process for new hires, much less for employees being transferred within the company. That’s a mistake.
Onboarding is broken
According to a recent study from Nintex, one of the “most broken” processes in the workplace is onboarding. In their survey, 86% of employees who are looking for another job believe their company’s broken processes have factored into their decision to move on: another 67% of all employees believe broken processes prevent them from maximizing their potential.
HR has become adept at outsourcing the mundane aspects of its function, clearing out compliance tasks to take more time for talent management. One of the first talent management responsibilities is retention. In the Nintex study, 71% of employees looking for another job and 52% of employees overall believe the onboarding process has failed them.
“Given this finding, it's implied that faulty onboarding starts new employees on the wrong foot, which will just cause them to quit later on," Dan Stoll, technical product marketing manager at Nintex, said.
Despite the time and resources employers invest in hiring, 20% of new employees quit within the first 45 days, and 31% quit in the first six months. Onboarding must be put first to increase retention.
Onboarding versus orientation
Onboarding for new hires somehow got incorporated with new hire orientation, but in reality they are two very different things. Orientation is about processes (and paperwork, lots of paperwork); onboarding is about people.
Onboarding should provide access to information, introduce hires to peers and colleagues, and offer training and resources for development and assistance. Built in to the process should be routine follow up until the employee has adjusted.
Insperity breaks down the processes to reveal a significant difference between the two. Content for orientation should be company-wide: overall policies, procedures and culture. Your anti-discrimination policy has no departmental wiggle-room. Enrollment and compliance forms are not optional.
For onboarding, the process should be customized for the individual and their role. Training for the specific work, mentoring and shadowing programs, access and follow-up are key. It focuses on the person, not the paperwork.
Connections are key
Crystal Barnett, Insperity Senior Human Resource Specialist believes the employee onboarding process is the perfect opportunity to introduce employees to other departments with whom they will be interacting on a regular basis.
“Establishing those relationships early is key to developing successful internal partnerships,” Barnett said.
Onboarding begins before they do
A Robert Half piece suggests onboarding should be broken down into parts: overcoming the ‘first day on the job’ anxieties, onboarding during week one, then week two and beyond. They recommend you cover training, milestones, mentoring programs and other resources to help the new hire find their niche in the company.
Onboarding should last well past the 45 days that it takes 20% of your new hires to resign. It involves preparing for and welcoming the new staffer into the company, assigning buddies and mentors to help them navigate their new environs, providing resources to learn and develop, and outlining your plans for them and their future.
But 76% of HR managers believe their onboarding process is underutilized; the focus is too heavily on paperwork and not enough on training and development. To maximize onboarding, HR and hiring managers should work together, developing checklists of best practices to follow for each new employee.
Ky Kingsley, VP at Robert Half Finance & Accounting, North America knows preparing for a new hire to start can often be a hectic process for employers.
“Managers are often already so busy and there is so much to keep in mind when bringing someone new on board that it can be easy to forget a few steps," Kingsley said. “Companies that lack a checklist or formal onboarding process may overlook details along the way.”
The onboarding checklist
- Welcome the employee with a workstation prepared for them;
- Tour and introduce the employee to the department and relevant associates;
- Provide resources to learn about the organization; and
- Develop meeting schedules to check in and check on the new hire.
- Provide job-specific training;
- Meet with mentors;
- Provide survey and feedback tools; and
- Complete required paperwork.
Week 2 and beyond
- Plan follow-up meetings; and
- Career development planning, including short- and long-range training goals and opportunities.
The length of onboarding may vary based on industry, company size and the complexity of the job.
“My general rule of thumb: Onboarding should be an ongoing process,” Kingsley said. Onboarding directly impacts retention. “When employees see from the beginning of their time with an employer that the organization will support their professional development goals, they often feel more compelled to stay there.”
Beyond the paperwork required to bring a new employee on board, onboarding tells employees that a company is willing to take the long view and invest in its investment — its people. With thoughtful planning, regular feedback and an eye to continuous learning and growth, business can beat the odds and retain new hires. It’s more than welcoming them to the company; it’s bringing them into the culture.
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