The onboarding process has a major impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and turnover, yet it’s a process that’s often overlooked. Onboarding should be considered a crucial component of the hiring and training process, and you should establish a clear and consistent process for onboarding every new hire.
If you’re looking for a clear-cut, easy-to-use guide to leverage for your company’s onboarding process, download our interactive onboarding checklist. Keep reading for more insights on the importance of employee onboarding and tips for developing an effective onboarding process that will benefit your company in a multitude of ways.
Definition of Onboarding
What is onboarding, exactly? Many people confuse onboarding with orientation, but orientation is merely one event that occurs as part of the broader onboarding process. Onboarding is a process for orienting new hires and getting them acclimated with the company as a whole, organizational structure, company culture, their department, and with their individual roles and responsibilities.
While orientation may take a few hours to a full day, onboarding can last 12 to 24 full months. The goal is to provide new hires with the tools and resources they need to become productive team members as quickly as possible.
Benefits of Employee Onboarding
The benefits of onboarding are multi-fold:
- Boost employee satisfaction. Job satisfaction tends to be higher among employees who feel supported, and effective onboarding helps to achieve this goal.
- Better performance. When you equip new hires with the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to manage their responsibilities, they’re able to perform better and are more productive. Onboarding enables new hires to become contributing team members more quickly compared to those who are left to learn the ropes largely on their own. Plus, job satisfaction (mentioned above) has been shown to have a positive influence on performance.
- Boost retention. Research shows that 20% of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment, and BambooHR recently found that 31% of turnover occurs within the first six months. For entry-level and intermediate-level employees, early turnover figures are even higher: 43% and 38%, respectively. By implementing a robust onboarding process, you’ll provide additional support and guidance to help new employees overcome common hurdles that occur during the first few months of employment (and beyond), making them more likely to stay onboard.
- Improve company culture. One component of many onboarding processes is providing opportunities for new staff members to get to know the existing team. In some cases, a mentor or onboarding buddy is assigned, giving new hires a go-to resource as they navigate their new environment. These initiatives can help employees get to know one another and develop positive working relationships.
- Reduce costs. The cost of hiring and training a new employee can be as high as 1.5 to 2 times the annual salary for the role. By reducing turnover, you’ll reduce the costs associated with hiring and training new employees – by keeping those you already have.
Onboarding has far-reaching benefits that extend beyond your new hires to management, co-workers, other departments, and of course the company’s bottom line.
Best Practices for Employee Onboarding
A robust, effective onboarding program can boost productivity by as much as 70%, according to research from Brandon Hall Group. It can improve new hire retention by an impressive 82%, and new hires that are engaged in robust onboarding are 58% more likely to remain with the company after three years compared to those that went through a minimal onboarding process (or none at all). But what does it take to develop an effective onboarding process?
- Temper your own expectations. Even with the best onboarding processes, in some roles, it can take up to 90 days for new employees to demonstrate value. Onboarding helps to speed this process, but you should still set realistic expectations.
- Start planning early. Onboarding doesn’t begin with the employee’s first day on the job – you should already have a plan in place, and onboarding tasks should be being checked off the list beginning with the moment a hiring decision is made. Take care of administrative tasks such as preparing orientation packets, requesting employee ID badges, preparing their workspace, getting access configured for software, and other necessities before the first day of employment.
- Create a training schedule. Prepare a calendar with all meetings, important dates, deadlines, and other information to keep your team and your new hire on track during the onboarding process.
- Set clear expectations. Communication is key. Be sure to set clear expectations with your new hire regarding what is expected of them during the first week, as well as the first 30 and 90 days of employment. Work with them to set clear objectives to give them a sense of ownership.
- Make onboarding a collaborative effort. When you get the whole team or department involved in the onboarding process, it feels like a team effort – which in turn helps new hires feel involved and engaged as part of the team. Cultivating a collaborative team atmosphere is an excellent culture-booster.
- Consider gamification. Gamification isn’t just for sales teams; it can be an effective way to make onboarding more engaging. Gamification makes it fun to work towards and achieve goals and objectives, resulting in a more productive team. Plus, a “fun” working environment helps to curb employee turnover, and it facilitates an efficient way to track progress without creating a perception of micro-management.
Onboarding is a lengthy process that requires substantial planning. The good news is that once you have an onboarding process in place, you can continue to tweak it over time as you discover what works and what doesn’t work without reinventing the wheel. It’s an investment that will pay off for many years to come.
Ready to get started developing your new hire onboarding process? Download our interactive checklist for a complete list of essential action steps for an effective employee onboarding process.
Angela Stringfellow is a writer with 10+ years of experience. She focuses on news, trends, and insights in marketing, business, and technology.