When it comes to employee onboarding, your organization’s approach can be a make-or-break experience for new hires. Organizations that take a “throw them into the deep end and see if they can swim” approach risk losing those employees after their first year, according to Aberdeen’s November 2014 Welcome to the 21st Century, Onboarding! report. In its survey, Aberdeen found that organizations with short onboarding processes are nine percent less likely to retain new employees after the first year.
Since 90 percent of organizations believe that new employees make their decisions to stay with an organization sometime in the first year according to Aberdeen’s April 2013 Strategic Onboarding Report, it’s important for you to make onboarding a top priority.
An organized, in-depth and well thought out approach can turn new hires into dedicated, engaged brand champions. Here are five ways you can build new employee engagement before and during the onboarding process:
1. Start early.
The onboarding process doesn’t have to wait until a new hire’s first day. In fact, Aberdeen’s 2014 onboarding report suggests it shouldn’t. According to the research, best-in-class organizations are 35 percent more likely to start the onboarding process in the days or weeks before a new hire’s start date (aptly dubbed “pre-boarding”).
Implementing a pre-boarding process allows you to communicate your organization’s core values, establish its corporate identity, and share its culture with future hires before they start working, so they’re ready to make an impact from day one.
2. Get rid of the paperwork.
In today’s world, paperwork is more boring than ever. Who really wants to sit in a quiet room and fill out form after form, just to get down to business? Onboarding and HR management technology allows you to streamline the onboarding process and provide key employee documents online to be filled out at the new employee’s discretion.
Whether it’s through the use of software or just sending new employees the paperwork in the days before their start date, getting rid of the typical Day One paperwork helps you change the focus of an employee’s first day. Instead of paperwork and tax forms, new employees can begin on Day One learning the skills they will need to succeed, and begin their socialization into the organization.
3. Provide a roadmap.
The perfect new hire would hit the ground running and be fully productive from their first day. Unfortunately, that kind of new hire is extremely rare. That’s why you need to provide a documented onboarding roadmap so that new hires get a clear picture of what they need to learn and when.
For the best results, offer material on “What to Expect on Day One” and a schedule for their first week. Give new employees additional information about their early weeks and months to empower them. Make sure they have a plan to follow and milestones to achieve. Over the course of their first year, highlight the skills a new employee will need to learn and provide different forms of evaluation. An action-based road map with regular manager and mentor-level check-in opportunities will make sure new hires are getting the most out of their onboarding process.
4. Get the managers involved.
Perhaps one of the most common areas not given proper attention in the onboarding process is the involvement of managers, quite often because of busy schedules. But this is one of the most valuable resources to include in the onboarding process.
According to BambooHR’s February 2014 study, 33 percent of new hires want the managers they will be working under to lead them through the onboarding process. Having managers lead new employees through the onboarding process establishes the reporting structure and provides new hires with valuable “face-time” with their managers. Rather than swinging by the office to say hi on a new employee’s first day, the manager leads them through the process and has an opportunity to impart procedural insight and organizational knowledge.
5. Create brand ambassadors, not just employees.
The most important thing you can do to create more engaged new hires is focus on instilling your organization’s corporate culture and values. This starts during the recruiting process and continues through pre-boarding and onboarding. Sharing those values and your corporate culture through orientation, video, presentations, or various new employee activities helps new hires build a deeper connection between the employee and the organization and inspires engagement. If you want new employees to become brand ambassadors, you need to take the time during the onboarding process to show employees how working for your organization will advance both their professional and personal growth.
Remember, new hires don’t take very long to decide whether or not your organization is a long-term fit. Use these five strategies to strengthen your onboarding process and turn your new hires into the kind of engaged, loyal brand ambassadors that make organizations best-in-class.
How long is your onboarding process? What is the focus? Do you have any other tips for making it more effective? Share your thoughts in the comments below!