Onboarding is often seen as an administrative process that usually doesn’t last beyond the first week or two of a new employee’s tenure. The assumption that an employee will naturally assimilate into the company’s environment and culture is often made, but the reality is that’s rarely the case. The good news is that there is ample opportunity to turn your employee onboarding process into a competitive advantage and improve your organizational strength.

According to an SHRM report, companies with an engaging and effective onboarding program retain 91% of their first-year workers – an enviable retention rate for nearly any company, particularly in sectors where employee movement is high. 

The benefits of an exceptional onboarding process often include:

  • Allowing employees to hit the ground running reduces the total time to full productivity for that employee.
  • Inform new hires about procedures and systems, reducing confusion and eliminating the tying up of other vital human capital in handling new hires unnecessarily.
  • Allows new employees to integrate with their immediate team more quickly.
  • Develops a faster sense of comfort and familiarity with organizational standards and expectations.
  • Can lead to a quicker sense of autonomy for the employee that will save time and money.
  • If planned and executed properly will often make the new hire feel welcome, valued and empowered to do the job and reduce stress levels.

Below are simple steps your company can take to assure the onboarding process sets the right tone for your organization’s relationship with all of its employees for the long term. 

Start the Process Before Their First Day

Before your candidates walk through the door, or increasingly the virtual door, on their first day, make sure you’ve laid the groundwork for a successful onboarding process well in advance. Creating a comprehensive checklist ahead of time is important for a smooth onboarding process. This is also an opportunity to include other departments into the onboarding process such as IT, Payroll, and Office management.

The components of a solid new hire checklist include:

  • Detailed outline of the position to be shared with the new hire and team members the new employee will be interacting with.
  • A comprehensive outline of the department they will be a part of. This often includes the procedures and standards of that department along with key responsibilities.
  • A list of onboarding tasks that are laid out in a timeline format. Your onboarding tasks will vary depending on what kind of organization you are running, but will often include:
    • Filling out benefits and compliance forms
    • Procuring and setting up the necessary physical resources such as a desk and related IT equipment
    • Security and facilities access considerations
    • Setting up the required software/email credentials
    • Listing the required team introductions
    • Preparing training documents or resources
  • A statement of corporate values that can be shared with the new hire.
  • A 12-month timeline document that includes various tasks, reviews and “check-ins” with the new employee. 

There is often an interregnum period between the offer signing and the employee’s starting date. You can take advantage of this time to provide orientation materials to the new employee so they can familiarize themselves before their official start. Keeping lines of communication open with the new employee is a great way to show active enthusiasm for their start with the company.

Prepare and Engage Your Team

Adding a new team member to your organization will often change the interpersonal dynamics either at a macro or micro level, no matter the company’s size. Professional relationships are fluid, and the dynamics of those connections can either be strengthened, altered or disrupted when new hires come on board. To help avoid potential disruptions, it’s best to prepare your team for new hires by being open and honest about what they can expect.

Outlining and determining the following items will lead to a healthier team dynamic:

  • Make your expectations clear to the incoming team members and existing employees.
  • Outline whose responsibility on the team it will be to help the new hire integrate both culturally and in regards to their work responsibilities.
  • Who will the new hire be working with? Who will the new hire be reporting to?
  • What does that transfer of responsibilities look like? Do you have processes in place for this to occur?

Additionally, strong interpersonal and professional connections within a team or broader organization can lead to increased productivity and creativity. That’s why it’s important to set up a system of formal and informal opportunities to create and nurture those connections for newly incoming employees. Your organization can accomplish this through the use of varying strategies such as company social events like team lunches or mentoring support by assigning a peer buddy.

Measure Onboarding Success

Success doesn’t not happen overnight, and it will often take several months for a new employee to reach peak productivity. Refining your onboarding process can help reduce this period. But how do you know where in the process things can improve? First, you have to decide on some key performance indicators. These can include:

  • Measuring employee engagement
  • Measuring minimum and maximum productivity
  • Measuring employee satisfaction rates
  • Measuring formal feedback from employees who have gone through your onboarding process

Once your organization can measure some of these performance indicators, you can begin to make adjustments and educated changes to your onboarding process to improve them.

Create an Employee Journey Map

One of the best ways to show new employees that you are invested in their success with your company is to develop an employee journey map. Best conducted after 6 to 12 months from their start date, an employee journey map is an outline designed to engage employees in a conversation about their future with the organization. 

This can come in the form of a future timeline in which both your organization’s goals and the employee’s career goals are outlined and synced to show both career and company progression. Setting realistic timelines, milestones, and professional development requirements for each stage of the journey can set proper expectations for new employees and reveal areas of weakness or opportunity for further training and education. 

Lastly, one of the most important things to remember throughout the onboarding process is that you should have a high level of empathy, patience, and give new hires the ability to openly ask questions and learn along the way.

Our seasoned recruitment professionals at LRO Staffing have consulted on and helped design successful onboarding processes for Canadian private and public organizations of all sizes. If your company needs help establishing an onboarding process, give us a call, we’re happy to help.

Julia Roberts

Author Julia Roberts

Over her career, Julia has been fortunate enough to gain knowledge across a variety of Human Resources functions – from Recruitment to Onboarding to Employee Relations. Her current role at LRO is to attract top talent to work for our internal teams and set them up for success throughout their journey with the organization.

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