Onboarding new employees and getting them up to speed on your company, its culture, and their role in it, is critical. Without an excellent onboarding process, people are more likely to leave a job and more likely to exit sooner rather than later. More than 30 percent of employees have left a position within six months of starting. More than 16 percent of people have quit a new job after just a week.
Companies with the best onboarding practices aren’t just more likely to keep their employees. They also enjoy several additional benefits. Here’s why you should work to improve the onboarding experience for new hires and how you can do it.
7 Benefits of Improving the Onboarding Process
Giving employees time to get acclimated to their new jobs and providing them with plenty of guidance and training along the way has numerous advantages for your company. The following are seven of the most critical perks of the best onboarding programs.
1. Gets Employees Off to a Positive Start
When an employee accepts a job offer and gets ready to go in for the first day of work, there’s a lot of uncertainty. They aren’t 100 percent sure the job will be what they expect. The employee doesn’t know whether they will like the job or get along with co-workers. And they might not be sure where to go or what time to arrive on the first day.
Following onboarding training best practices means onboarding starts before an employee even steps foot in the building on that first day. One example of a best practice can mean having a manager, supervisor or HR person check in with the employee before the start day:
- During the check-in, the manager or HR person can verify the new hire knows exactly where to go and when.
- If needed, someone from the company can send directions or clarification to the new employee via email.
First impressions matter for both new hires and current employees at your company. Having a structured process in place will create an excellent first impression of your business for the newcomer and give your current team a good first impression of the new hire.
2. Ensures Better Job Performance in the Future
The best employee onboarding experiences can lead to the best employees. When new hires aren’t given much guidance on the first day or during the first week or month, they are likely to be left to their own devices.
Some might turn to the company computer and play online or on social media if they don’t know what they should be doing or who they are supposed to ask. Others might simply sit there, feeling bored or useless, and questioning why they took the job in the first place.
How productive an employee is during that initial period and how quickly he or she gets up to speed can set the pattern for an employee’s job performance going forward. People who know what their role is, what the expectations are for them and what goals they are trying to reach and when will perform better than employees who remain in the dark.
When new hires aren’t given much guidance on the first day or during the first week or month, they are likely to be left to their own devices.
3. Increases Employee Satisfaction and Happiness With the Job
One of the significant issues companies face is engaging their employees. A Gallup poll finds less than a third of workers feel engaged. An engaged employee feels committed to, involved in and enthusiastic about their work. An employee who understands what’s expected of them and who feels a company is supportive of their efforts on the job is one who feels happier at work and more satisfied with a job.
4. Improves Customer Satisfaction
Getting employees off to a productive start and having a team of engaged employees also lifts your company’s bottom line. The best onboarding programs help employees increase customer satisfaction and bump up your company’s revenue.
Companies with high rates of employee engagement performed better in customer ratings by 10 percent compared to companies without high levels of engaged employees. Additionally, businesses with engagement programs are 67 percent more likely to increase their revenue over the year.
5. Raises Retention Rates
First impressions last, and giving your new hires a favorable first impression of the company is very likely going to influence how long they end up staying. The same study that found that about a third of all employees leave a job within six months also discovered the factors that would make a person more likely to stay. The most critical factors all had something to do with the onboarding process:
- More training
- More attention
- Clearer guidance
- More recognition
- Friendly environment
6. Gives You an Opportunity to Correct Negative Behavior and Mistakes
Whenever anyone learns a new skill, there’s a chance that they will make mistakes. How those missteps are handled early in the process determines whether they become set in stone habits or whether they’re fixed quickly.
The same is true when a new employee starts at your company. Without a thorough onboarding process and detailed training or guidance, they might make mistakes or develop unwanted habits. It’s possible that some practices that weren’t an issue at an employee’s former job are a big deal at your company.
For example, an employee might be coming from a workplace where cell phone use or personal calls were permitted throughout the day. If that isn’t the case at your company, a manager needs to make that clear early on, or else the employee has no way of knowing that there is an issue.
7. Improves Overall Company Performance
Improving your company’s onboarding process isn’t just good news for the people you hire. It’s also good news for the entire business. The best onboarding processes take a village, meaning they aren’t the sole responsibility of HR or management.
Getting everyone involved in welcoming a new employee and showing them the ropes can lead to an increase in engagement and productivity. When everyone is on the same page and feels they have an essential role to play, the company performs better overall.
6 Ways to Improve Employee Onboarding
Now that you understand the benefits of improving employee onboarding at your company, here are a few tips and onboarding ideas for new employees.
1. Begin Early, Before the Employee’s First Day
Onboarding shouldn’t start on your employee’s first full day on the job. Instead, it can be helpful to begin a week or so before the first day. Starting the process early means you can take care of some of the more time-consuming components of onboarding, such as having the new hire complete the necessary paperwork, in advance.
A few things that can be taken care of before day one include:
- Emailing the employee W-4 forms and I-9s as well as any other documentation your company needs.
- Providing the new hire with relevant and necessary information, such as how to get into the building, the contact details for their manager, instructions for entering and exiting the parking garage, and how to get a photo ID.
- Giving the new hire names and brief details about the people they will work with.
- Setting up the employee’s workstation and creating any necessary accounts for them.
Allowing the employee to focus their first few days on adjusting to and understanding their new role, rather than completing paperwork, will help them better assimilate into their new position. Consider having the employee fill our paperwork before beginning, and use automation software to decrease potential errors or paperwork loss that may distract from the rest of the onboarding process.
2. Make Things Easy to Understand
Remember that a new hire is just that — new. Even if they have experience in a similar or identical position, they are entirely new to your company and don’t have a grounding in your culture, priorities or habits. The importance of explaining how you do things or having a manager go over the specific expectations and requirements of the role to a new employee can be tricky since you are on the inside, and how things are done is very familiar to you.
When you break down what an employee needs to be doing, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone with no familiarity with the company or job. If your company’s confidentiality rules allow it, you can practice explaining instructions to a friend or relative who doesn’t work there, to see if they can comprehend what you are saying.
Most importantly, give your new team members room to ask questions and time to become familiar with how your company works. Be willing and ready to explain certain things multiple times if needed.
Along with telling your new hires what they are doing, explain to them why they are doing those things. That can involve creating goals with your new employees. It also consists of sitting down with them and defining your company’s mission and what your business values.
3. Make Training Interactive
One thing teachers are told when they are learning how to be effective in the classroom is to make lessons and training “sticky.” If you think back to your time in school, you might remember the boring teachers, but you probably don’t remember what they taught or said in class. Meanwhile, the things taught by teachers who went out of their way to make lessons sticky probably stuck with you. When training someone, there are countless ways to make things sticky and help them learn more quickly:
- Offer video tutorials with interactive components, such as quizzes and polls.
- Employ live demonstrations — don’t just tell new team members what to do, show them, step by step.
- Use visuals.
- Give the employee a chance to practice.
4. Pair New Employees With a Mentor
Part of onboarding a new employee involves welcoming them into your company’s culture. One way to help a hire become part of the team more quickly is to pair them with a mentor —either a co-worker or supervisor.
Ideally, the mentor will meet with the new person regularly to check in with them or answer any questions. A mentor might take the new hire out to lunch that first day and see how things are going. If a new employee is struggling with any aspects of the job or to adapt to the company’s culture, it can be the job of the mentor to help set them straight or take the employee aside and show them how things are done.
If a new employee is struggling with any aspects of the job, it can be the job of the mentor to help set them straight.
5. Check in With New Hires Frequently
Just as onboarding doesn’t begin on an employee’s first day, it doesn’t end on that first day, either. How long the onboarding process takes depends on several factors, including the employee’s work experience and the particular challenges of the job.
When you first hire someone, schedule a few check-in meetings with the manager or HR. During these sessions, you can:
- Review how an employee is doing
- Evaluate any progress made on goals
- Get a sense for whether they are adjusting to the culture
Schedule a check-in about a week after the employee starts, then the second check-in a month later. After that, you might want to have another check-in at 60 days, then one at 90 days.
6. Ask Recent Hires for Feedback and Adjust the Process Accordingly
Those check-ins can be an ideal time for you to reflect on how your employee is doing. They are also an opportunity for an employee to reflect on how the onboarding process is going and whether or not any rough patches or areas could have been improved.
If you are concerned employees will be less likely to open up to you or worried they might not want to report on negative onboarding experiences, you can opt to make the feedback anonymous rather than soliciting suggestions during one-on-one meetings with your team. Making the feedback anonymous increases the likelihood of getting suggestions that can help you improve.
For example, your employees might give you an idea of whether they felt welcomed and part of the team right away or if they felt alienated and uncertain of their role during the first few days on the job. With that information, you can brainstorm ways to make the first days and weeks on the job more welcoming for future new hires.
Additionally, an employee might have faced a mountain of paperwork when first hired, or there might have been issues with certain documents getting lost. Getting feedback like that can help your company decide to switch to a different method of handling employee documentation, such as using onboarding software to streamline and simplify the process.
Employee Onboarding Automation from MHC Automation is one solution to the mountain of paperwork new team members often have to complete. When documents are electronic, there’s less of a chance of them getting lost, and there’s no issue with reading an employee’s handwriting.