How important is having a great onboarding process for your company? The statistics don’t lie. Judging by this data, good onboarding is vital. According to these statistics, 22 percent of turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment, 46 percent of new employees are gone after the first 18 months and the cost of losing an employee in the first year is three times greater than the salary that employee would have received.
Starting a new job is a serious and very stressful life event. That’s why it is incredibly important to help each new employee with his or her transition as much as possible.
When you’re changing a job, you’re not just going to work in a new office every morning. You are entering a new culture, working with new people and coming in contact with tasks that are probably fairly unfamiliar to you. It can be a huge shock for even the most experienced professionals.
As much as a great onboarding program can be productive, a bad one can be just as counterproductive.
It’s not just about showing new employees where, with whom and what they will be working on. It’s about getting them comfortable and confident in their new roles right off the bat.
Here are some things that you and your human resources staff can do to make sure that you are providing successful onboarding experiences and decreasing the chances of experiencing costly turnover that almost inevitably comes with poor onboarding practices.
Onboarding Starts Before Day One
Many employers seem to forget about that incredibly important period of time in between the new employee’s agreement to join the company and his or her actual first day in the office. It’s often an incredibly nerve-racking time.
Remember your first day of school? It was usually all you could think about over the last week of summer vacation. What should I wear? Will my teachers be nice? Will I be able to make friends? All of these thoughts were racing through your young mind.
Starting a new job is pretty much the adult version of that exact same process. You are eager and jittery to start working at your new job. You want to immediately make a good impression and fit in. You are the outsider, joining a team that already enjoys a fair amount of familiarity among themselves.
If no one from the company is contacting you in between the time you’ve accepted their offer and the first day of work, you’re not going to feel as if they are excited about your arrival, are you? Plus, this time is perfect for getting some of the annoying paperwork taken care of so that your first day can be more about getting acquainted with the company and less about signing documents.
Introduce Them to the Team and Company
Many of these things might sound like second nature, but you won’t believe how many companies skip crucial steps in the onboarding process. Of course, getting the new employee to meet everyone who they are going to be working with is a given.
You can ask them to address the team personally, but that could be stressful for some. Most people have an easier time introducing themselves through an email and then getting to know everyone on a personal level at a slower pace as time goes by. It’s best to use a combination of both. Walk them through the office and introduce them to everyone, but don’t put them on the spot and ask them to give a speech about themselves. Then you can gather some personal information about them, in their words, and send that out as an email introduction to everyone.
And while it’s important for new employees to get familiar with the team, it’s just as important for them to familiarize themselves with your company. While you have probably already told them about the company during the interview process, there’s a good chance that they don’t remember much of what was said. Surely, memorizing facts about your company’s history and values was far from a priority for them at the time.
Be sure you reintroduce all of that in a meaningful and clear way. Talk about your company’s mission and strategic goals. Give them some stats on sales levels and stock prices as well. It’s important to let employees know where the company stands currently and where it wants to go.
As far as personal aspirations go, introduce these right away as well. Ask the employees what they want to achieve with your company. Tell them about any expectations management might have and any performance reviews they should expect to encounter.
All this will set the stage for a productive relationship that coincides with your company’s business goals.
Connect Them With Mentors
Providing mentors for your new employees is one of the best ways to increase their chances of being successful at your company. A mentor is not only someone who is able to tell them directly about what their responsibilities will be and what is expected of them, this person should also be able to offer great insights into the company culture and the way things get done in your company.
When new employees have great mentors showing them the ropes, your productivity is sure to increase and your turnover will almost certainly decrease as well. The mentor is supposed to be someone who is more approachable than anyone in management. Mentors should be able to field any questions about company culture and work expectations.
They should also be the people who will be able to get the new employee comfortable with their new tasks and responsibilities very easily by providing the necessary guidance for assimilating into the company with as little stress as possible.
How do you decide who is going to a mentor? A mentor should be well-respected within the company and knowledgeable of both the company as a whole and the specific projects that the new team member is being assigned to work on.
Line Up Real Projects From the Start
There’s nothing more unnerving for new employees than being unsure of what they should be doing during their first days and weeks at a new company. While there should be some room given to them to ease them into their roles, you need to give them something meaningful to do right away.
Don’t hire new people if you don’t have projects lined up that they can start tackling immediately. And don’t just give them menial tasks to start with, give them meaningful assignments right from the get-go. This works to the advantage of both sides. It allows management to immediately identify the quality of work that the new employee is capable of doing and it gives the employee an immediate sense of purpose.
Many managers wrongfully assume that new hires need some time to get acclimated before working on serious assignments, so they give them small, usually unimportant things to do in order for them to get settled in, believing that this will make the transition less stressful.
In reality, doing this can only lead to more stress and employees feeling as if management does not trust them with serious work. When employees start working on important projects immediately and complete them successfully -this is the ultimate confidence-builder.
Create a 90-Day Plan
It’s important to remember that onboarding is an ongoing process that doesn’t end after the first week. HR needs to lay out a plan of at least 90 days to make sure that the employee is fully integrated into the team and meeting expectations along the way.
It’s a process that involves constant contact with the new hire, not just a monitoring of their work from afar. You should be very upfront with new employees about what is expected of them and you should be giving them very clear, attainable and measureable goals to focus on in the first three months.
Not only that, you should be also staying in constant contact to make sure that the employee has all of the resources needed to reach these goals. These 90-day plans also allow you to evaluate an employee better over time, giving you insights into the areas in which they are strongest and where they might need some work.
With a high quality onboarding program, both you and your new employees win big. They are able to transition into your company with little stress, while you reap the benefits of having an immediately productive new member on your team.
And in the long run, a better onboarding program gives your company a higher level of worker retention, a more stable team and less costly turnover to deal with, ultimately.