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Continue reading to learn what onboarding is, why it is important for new employees, how to create an onboarding process and tips about employee onboarding.
What Is Onboarding?
Onboarding is the process of bringing new hires into your organization and preparing them for long-term success in their role with the company. The main goal of the onboarding process is to make sure that new hires are as productive as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Employee onboarding is also centered around making sure that your new hire feels that they’ve made a good choice in joining your company. Consistent communication can go a long way toward helping new employees feel comfortable as they start work.
“We need to be hyper open and transparent during the onboarding process, with plenty of ongoing communication, mentoring, etc. Formal processes and systems need to be in place to ensure it is a smooth process, but more importantly, we need to make sure that we clearly and consistently communicate our organizational mission, vision, values, and culture and integrate all of that into every system and process.” – Jonathan H. Westover
Hiring people is expensive. With this big investment, you don’t want to lose someone after only a month of work. Harvard Business Review estimates that organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 62% greater new-hire productivity and up to 50% greater new hire retention. That’s why it is crucial to create an in-depth onboarding process for all new hires to go through.
Onboarding Versus Orientation
Onboarding is the complete process of integrating new employees into your company and preparing them for their day-to-day responsibilities. Throughout the onboarding process, you are focused on preparing each new hire for their specific role in the company. The onboarding process begins before a new hire even submits a job application to your company, and it continues for months as they become familiar with all the little details of the company.
Orientation is a preliminary step within the onboarding process where you help new hires acclimate to their new work environment. In orientation, you focus on welcoming the new employees to your company and reviewing general policies and procedures that apply to any position.
Why a Great Onboarding Experience Is So Important for New Employees
The onboarding process is an employee’s first experience with their new company. You want to create a great onboarding experience in order to:
- Prepare new employees for success in their roles. The onboarding process is a crucial time to make sure new employees learn and clearly understand the responsibilities required to be successful in their role.
- Expedite employee productivity. Though they aren’t expected to be an expert on day one, an effective onboarding process allows new employees to take on important tasks more quickly and become productive in a short amount of time.
- Create a welcoming environment. First impressions are important and your onboarding process should create a welcoming, comforting environment to ease the nerves of new hires and help them feel valued at the company.
- Assure the new hire that they made a good decision. The last thing you want is for new employees to question whether they made the right choice accepting a role at your company. A thorough onboarding process ensures that you highlight the value of new employees within the organization and assures them that your company is a positive work environment.
- Increase engagement and retention. Employees that have a positive onboarding experience are more likely to engage and establish goals for a long-term career at your company. This will positively affect the company’s profitability and customer ratings.
- Attract top talent. HR professional Remone Robinson writes, “New hires will recommend friends and network connections to their current employer if they had a positive onboarding experience. If employees only have positive reviews for the organization, the employer branding will soon improve. With a global connection from the influence of social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, where employees share their fun and inclusive workplace cultures, job seekers will come knocking.”
How to Onboard New Employees
New employee onboarding is an extensive process and should begin well before their first day. Take the following steps in order to create a positive onboarding experience for new hires in your organization.
Step 1: Send a Welcome Letter and New Hire Paperwork
As soon as the applicant accepts the job, HR and the hiring manager should collaborate on the initial onboarding communication. If you’re running a small business, you may take the lead on this step and the majority of the onboarding process.
Within 24 hours of accepting the job, send a letter to the new employee welcoming them to your company. You can send an initial email to welcome them while the physical letter is being mailed. If possible, provide any new hire paperwork that can be completed digitally before their first day.
Find out how HR software makes filling out onboarding paperwork a breeze.
Along with a letter, you can include resources to help new hires get connected with your organization. Some items to provide include:
- The latest employee newsletter
- A recent press release
- Bios of executives and company leadership
- A list of items to bring to complete the I-9 process on their first day
- An employee benefits summary and benefit enrollment forms
- Company swag (T-shirt, hat, pen, notebook or any other branded gift)
Step 2: Call the New Hire
After sending the welcome letter and additional resources, check in with the new hire via phone for an official welcome call.
In the time between their acceptance and start date, your new employee may still be getting offers from other companies and they could change their mind at any time. By calling them during this waiting period, you can answer any questions that they may have and help them feel like an important part of the company before they step foot in the office.
Step 3: Notify IT of Technology Needs
With every new hire comes a slew of technology requirements for the IT department to fulfill. You want all laptops, chargers, phones and other tools to be set up by IT so the employee can start using them on their first day. There will be a number of accounts for software and applications that you will need to create login credentials for.
Each employee will have different needs and it’s important that you gather all of the required information so that the IT onboarding process can be completed days before the new hire begins working.
Step 4: Assign an Onboarding Buddy
To reduce their nerves and provide a support system for your new hire, assign an onboarding buddy. Their buddy should work in a similar role and serve as an informal source of support that the employee can relate to, making it easier to ask questions and feel less intimidated.
Once you’ve assigned the best fit, have the onboarding buddy send an introductory email welcoming the new employee to the company and providing an overview of how the buddy system works.
Step 5: Prepare the Employee’s Workspace
As their start day approaches, take some time to prepare the new employee’s workspace. Whether they’re in a cubicle, at a desk, in an open workspace or in any other setting, you should set up all of their technology and equip the space with plenty of paper, pens, staples and any other items they may need.
Prepare a welcome packet that includes onboarding materials, company information, and new hire swag like mugs, t-shirts, snacks, and stickers.
Step 6: Provide a Welcoming Environment on the Employee’s First Day
A new employee’s first day is their first true impression of your company and the work environment you provide. Make sure you do everything in your power to create a positive experience and a welcoming environment.
Have someone at the door to welcome them as they arrive and consider hosting a catered breakfast to help new hires ease into the day. It’s important that the employee’s direct-report supervisor is in attendance on their first day, and other co-workers on their team should introduce themselves.
The first segments of orientation will take place on the first day. You may be able to complete orientation by the end of their first day, though you shouldn’t cram too much information into your program to try and complete it in one day. At a minimum, introduce them to the company culture and provide a workplace tour.
Here are a few other things you can do to ensure that the employee’s first day is comfortable and informative:
- Introduce the person who will be training them
- Explain what is expected of them in the first week
- Make lunch a group event
- Let them know where to go for questions
Step 7: Complete New Hire Orientation
New hire orientation is typically a one or two-day program. As mentioned before, try to extend your orientation program to cover multiple days so employees aren’t overwhelmed with a wealth of information that they can’t absorb in one sitting.
A comprehensive orientation program will cover important information like the company history and culture, policies and procedures, payroll, benefits, general training and more. During orientation, review the employee handbook and have all employees sign your employee handbook acknowledgment form to confirm that they’ve reviewed and understood the policies.
Any new hire paperwork that couldn’t be completed digitally should be filled out. Some important documents that should be completed by the end of new hire orientation include:
- I-9 form
- State tax withholding forms
- Direct deposit authorization form
- Employee emergency contact form
- Any non-compete agreement or non-disclosure agreement
- Drug test consent form (if applicable)
- New hire questionnaire
Step 8: Conduct IT Onboarding
Along with general onboarding, your IT department should conduct technology onboarding so all employees are competent and comfortable with the devices required to successfully complete their duties.
In IT onboarding, your IT department will answer any questions about devices, provide login information for required applications and software, review cybersecurity and data privacy information and answer any additional technology-related questions.
Step 9: Set up Weekly 1:1 Check-Ins
The new hire and their direct manager should meet on the first day to establish a working relationship. In this meeting, make sure that managers set up recurring weekly one-on-one check-ins for a consistent line of communication through the onboarding process.
In these weekly check-ins, managers can answer any questions, work on goal-setting and provide any additional support necessary for the employee to feel confident in their new role.
Step 10: Schedule 30, 60 and 90-Day Reviews
As the employee acclimates to their new environment and settles into the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, you should schedule 30, 60 and 90-day reviews with your new hires. In these reviews, you can gain insight into the effectiveness of your onboarding process and assess the performance.
30-day reviews and 60-day reviews can be conducted in person or using a templated questionnaire, while the 90-day review should be held in person.
Onboarding Tips to Help New Hires Feel Confident and Capable
Following the steps above will help you create an efficient onboarding process. Here are a few additional tips to make your onboarding process beneficial for everyone.
Tip 1: Don’t Overwhelm New Hires
Information overload can intimidate your new employees and create a negative first impression. Spreading out the onboarding process allows your new hires to absorb as much information and feel as prepared as possible.
Tip 2: Keep It Light
To create a comfortable environment, don’t place too much pressure on your new employees in the onboarding process. Keep your activities lighthearted and low-stress for the first part of the onboarding process to reduce any nerves and anxiety.
Tip 3: Involve Management and Executives
While you want to keep the content light, involving management and executives in the onboarding process can help new hires feel like an important, valuable component of your organization.
Tip 4: Ensure Proper Training
Every job has a set of responsibilities, and every company executes those responsibilities in their own way. Whether you’re a receptionist answering a phone, a factory worker assembling a device, or a nurse charting medical info, it takes training and practice to get it right. A great way to frustrate your new hire is to just expect them to know all of this stuff right off the bat.
Whatever the job may be, ensure your new hire is receiving the proper training they’ll need to succeed. Without this training, expectations will be off, the employee will feel like they were set up to fail, and the work won’t get done well.
Tip 5: Integrate New Hires Into the Company Culture
Every company has a culture that makes it unique. Some companies hold Xbox tournaments on the weekends, while others go out and get tacos together after work on Tuesdays. Whatever it is that makes your culture special, make sure your new hire is encouraged to be a part of it.
Don’t assume your new hires know that they’re invited to these events. Many new employees want to participate, but don’t feel comfortable without a formal invite from a friend or mentor. Without these direct invitations, the new hire will feel disconnected and friendless. When in doubt, offer a personal invitation.
Tip 6: Establish Performance Goals
Performance goals are important for both you and your employee. You need a way to track your new hire’s progress, and they need clear expectations about how to succeed.
Sitting down and setting these standards too early can be a bit overwhelming, so give employees at least a week or so to get comfortable before nailing down standards and metrics. Sit down with your new employee and talk about what you expect the new hire to accomplish. Talk about current job-specific expectations, but also venture into a discussion about career path, how to get promoted, and how to earn bonuses.
Whatever your employee is making, they want more, and you want them to perform at a level where they deserve more. Help them do that. They’ll be more motivated, and you’ll get more out of your employees.
Tip 7: Check in Outside of Scheduled Meetings
Aside from weekly one-on-ones and your 30/60/90-day review process, check in with new hires periodically to make sure that they don’t have any questions or concerns and are feeling good about their onboarding process.
Onboarding Different Types of Employees
While many elements of the onboarding process will always look pretty much the same, there are subtle differences depending on the type of new hire. Below we’ll review some tips for effectively onboarding different types of employees.
When onboarding seasonal employees, you’ll follow many of the practices described in this article already, but there are a few things you’ll want to focus on.
First, don’t neglect training! Since you’re probably hiring seasonal employees to provide extra help during a hectic time of year, you want them to be fully capable of doing their assigned work. If they’re not properly trained, they may become more of a burden than a help.
Next, remember to assign seasonal employees a mentor. Even though they won’t be at the organization permanently, having someone to guide them will help them feel more comfortable and have a good work experience.
A strong executive onboarding process is critical because executive recruiting can get expensive. You don’t want to pour lots of money into hiring a great executive just to have them leave after a short time! To avoid this, put thought into crafting the perfect onboarding experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Because executives play such an important part in the overall goals—and success—of businesses, their onboarding process can extend for a year or more.
- Help the new executive get to know the people they’ll be working with. This will probably consist of several one-on-one or group meetings—but avoid simple meet and greets.
- Introduce KPIs (key performance indicators) so the executive can set goals. Most will want to know how to measure success, so it’s good to get started with goal-setting early.
- Gradually give them more time to work on their own. Of course, you’ll still want to check in regularly to make sure the executive is on track. But the frequency of your visits can decrease from weekly, to monthly, to quarterly as the executive starts to get the hang of things.
Remote onboarding has some great advantages: it’s low-budget, flexible, and repeatable. But there are also potential downsides, like lower engagement and no face-to-face connection. To ensure that your remote employees have the best onboarding experience possible, plan ahead for how you’ll combat these challenges. For example, to boost engagement, you might decide to bring in a fun social element, such as a virtual meeting where employees get to know each other.
One important aspect of remote onboarding is preparing your technology. Whether you’re using Zoom or another digital platform, check in with each new hire ahead of time to get them set up. By eliminating the stress of technical difficulties, you’ll help your people make a smooth transition to the remote workplace.
When onboarding veterans, be aware that many of them may not have held a job in a traditional workplace. This could be a first for them, and they’ll be hyper-aware of everything that they don’t know. While the general steps in the onboarding process will be the same for veterans as for other employees, there are a few things you can do to help them feel comfortable and confident.
- Give them information about the company. Tell them about your workplace culture, communication and management styles, and anything else that would be good to know. Prepare them for the first day by making sure they know the dress code, where to park, etc.
- Pair them with a veteran buddy (if possible). If you have veterans working at your company, consider assigning them to veteran new hires. Because they’ll have some common ground right from the start, your new hire will adapt more quickly and feel comfortable with their onboarding buddy.
- Learn how veterans communicate and work. People in the military operate differently than civilians; they’re often very good team players who communicate candidly. If you don’t understand these differences, there might be some friction.
Independent Contractors and Freelancers
Independent contractors and freelancers can be a great resource if you communicate your expectations clearly, and the onboarding process is the time when you need to do that. First, spend time explaining to the contractor or freelancer what your company does and what its ultimate goals are—this will give them context for what they’ll be doing. Next, sort out logistics:
- What work you expect them to do (milestones, deliverables, and deadlines)
- Payment details (amount, timing, etc.)
- Communication methods (platform, frequency, etc.)
After the first milestone is completed, it’s helpful to provide feedback so the contractor or freelancer can better understand what you’re looking for and make appropriate adjustments.
Onboarding Metrics to Track
Simply making observations about employee attitude or behavior isn’t a good way to know if your onboarding program is successful or not. The following metrics will give you some hard data showing you where you need to improve.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The net promoter score will tell you how likely candidates are to recommend your company to somebody they know.
To calculate, ask new hires to rate the likelihood of recommending your company on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least likely, 10 being the highest) based on their onboarding experience. Calculate the percentage who choose 1-6 (detractors) and the percentage who choose 9-10 (promotors). Then, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to get your NPS.
You can compare your NPS against that of organizations recruiting from similar talent pools.
This metric measures how quickly an employee goes from not being able to perform job functions independently (think: very first day) to being able to work productively with little outside help.
27% of companies report that it can take a year or more for new hires to become fully productive
This time frame will be different for every role, so HR and management can work together to determine the length of time on a case-by-case basis. Holding regular meetings for the first few months can help managers determine how long it takes the average employee to be fully productive. Here’s the formula to calculate average time-to-productivity:
(Total number of days it takes for new hires to reach full productivity—combine the number of days for every new hire here) / (Total number of new hires)
Turnover measures how often employees leave the company. If you see high turnover amongst new employees, it generally means that there’s a problem with your hiring or onboarding processes. You can measure both voluntary turnover (new hires who choose to leave) and involuntary turnover (new hires who are laid off or lose their job because they can’t perform it well enough). To calculate each, choose a specific time frame to measure, then use this formula:
(Number of new hires who leave) / (Total number of new hires) X 100
The opposite of turnover, retention measures how many employees stay with the company for a set period of time. Many organizations measure retention using an 18-month period, because if an employee stays for at least 18 months, it’s likely that they’ll continue to stay. To calculate retention, choose a time frame to measure and use this formula:
(Number of new hires who stay with the company for 18 months) / (Total number of new hires) X 100
How Eddy People Can Simplify Your Onboarding Processes
Eddy People, part of Eddy’s all-in-one HR software solution, gives you the tools to create a smooth, hassle-free onboarding program. When a new employee’s first day approaches, they receive a customized welcome message with all the information they need to know. To keep the first day exciting (and paperwork-free) they’ll have a chance to digitally sign HR documents beforehand. With tedious administrative tasks out of the way, new hires can start having meaningful work experiences right out of the gate.
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