The Value Of Personalized Onboarding

The Value Of Personalized Onboarding

Mitchell Buchanan May 16, 2018 8:53:00 AM

When it comes to your employee onboarding process, it’s times to get personal. Many organizations have standard onboarding programs that touch on the basics, but they lack the ability to integrate new employees into the company fabric. The impression made on new hires is enormously important to their long term success. Interestingly, because individuals perceive things in different ways, onboarding needs to be personal in order to be impactful.

Why new hire onboarding needs to be structured

Science has already proven that structured onboarding works. The Society of Human Resource Management shared in their guide Onboarding New Employees Maximizing Success the following figures:

  • 60% of organizations view effective onboarding as improving the time it takes before new hires become productive
  • More than half of companies say onboarding leads to greater customer satisfaction and that employee retention rates have improved
  • Without effective onboarding, half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position
  • Poor onboarding results in half of all hourly workers leaving new jobs within the first 120 days

How does onboarding work?

An onboarding program is not to be confused with employee orientation, although this is an important first step. Onboarding gives new hires a safety net from which they can learn their new role, get to know their peers, understanding the role they serve in the corporate chain, and how they relate to the culture of the organization. It’s fairly complex. The four main steps (also called the 4-C’s) of onboarding include:

Compliance - The employee gets exposed to the rules, the vision, and the mission of the company. He or she learns how to work within these limits and what to do if there is a problem. The employee begins training to perfect skills and knowledge.

Clarification - The employee learns his or her role and gets clear direction from a supervisor or mentor. Coaching happens at regular intervals to ensure continued progress, identify training needs, and evaluate work. A confusing time for some, this is a period when an employee will either find his way or move on.

Culture - The employee has become part of a team or social group in the workplace. He or she is learning to appreciate and even embrace the corporate culture and the deeper meaning of the company’s way of doing things.

Connection - The employee feels ‘plugged in’ to the company and really gets excited about the future possibilities. At this point, the connection is more than just financial. The employee sees himself as part of the bigger picture -- a valued contributor.

Pro Tip: Improving your onboarding strategy can help improve candidate experience. Click here to learn more.

It’s important to note that a critical component in the chain of onboarding is organizational socialization -- which happens somewhere around the Culture and Connection phase. This process takes time (despite employer’s expectations) and the experience that each new hire gets determines how well he or she finds a place in the organization. Certain best practices can help to improve the process of onboarding, which we will talk about shortly. But first, let’s explore more from the employee perspective.

How does personalization help new employees settle in more effectively?

Onboarding new employees takes a personal approach. Each employee brings a special set of skills, knowledge, and talents to the workplace, that contributes to the overall success of the company. This needs to be acknowledged from the start. Instead of trying to make the new hire prove his worth, the company needs to be making the effort to prove to the employee that he made the right choice in taking this job.

Personalization of onboarding helps new hires settle into the organization more effectively. It takes into consideration the rate that each person learns new tasks, warms up to new people, and responds to the culture of the organization. Trying to push too much too soon on a new hire only serves to overwhelm the employee, with long-term negative results. A self-paced onboarding process works with the new hire’s abilities and work style, enabling him to find his place sooner in order to become fully productive.

Where can the onboarding experience be more personalized to each employee?

Think about the first few days on a new job and the head-spinning experience the first few weeks in a new job can be. This can provide an opportunity to be creative when designing an onboarding program.

For example, each new hire should be greeted by a personalized name badge, a brief welcome meeting with their new supervisor, an agenda for orientation, a map of the corporate office, and a beverage to get the day started. A peer should walk them over to the orientation location, showing them where bathrooms and break areas are located for their comfort. Following orientation sessions, during which new hires can connect with others, new hires should again meet with their supervisor to gauge how things are going.

Every new hire should be greeted by a workstation that is clean, includes new office supplies, a working phone already set up with an extension, a computer that’s installed with the required software and credentials, and a comfortable chair. New hires should be encouraged to personalize their workspace to make it their “home away from home”.

In addition, the company should provide a welcome package that includes an employee manual, a list of tasks that will introduce the employee to his new peers, and a schedule of events for the first few weeks. A team lunch sometime during the first week of employment is always a great way to break the ice too. And don’t forget the corporate swag! A t-shirt, pens, coffee mug, water bottle, calendar, and other branded items are always a nice treat for a new hire.

Trying to get more out of your onboarding process? Check out The Ultimate Guide To Employee Onboarding.

Supervisors should check in several times daily with a new hire to see how things are going. They may assign a few small projects and job shadowing sessions to enable the new hire to get a snapshot of his future responsibilities. A nearby colleague can act as a mentor, with the entire team being supportive and answering questions throughout the day. A performance and training plan should be introduced in the first month of employment, giving the employee a chance to set goals and commit to a self-directed learning path. The employer should be ready to invest in any training, certification, or degree program that is identified as enhancing the employee’s performance.

As you can see, when a new hire is focused on as an individual, this creates a positive experience that will last throughout their career. Some of the newness of the job will eventually wear off, but the personalized aspects will be long remembered and appreciated.

What are the benefits for a company with more fully-immersed employees?

Onboarding best practices, like the above mentioned suggestions, result in employees who are more immersed in the corporate brand and objectives. It’s a winning situation that produces employees who are excited about the work they perform for your company.

The benefits for a company with employees who are fully integrated can include:

  • Increased employee engagement and commitment to the company objectives
  • Creation of brand ambassadors who promote the organization to others
  • Reduced employee turnover and early resignation of new hires
  • Authentic corporate culture and positive reviews of the company
  • New hires ramp up and become productive sooner

When onboarding becomes personalized, it can transform how your company manages its human capital. Over time, employees treated to this personal onboarding process won’t be able to see themselves ever working for anyone else. They are willing to put their heart into every project they complete for your company because they realize the company is vested in their success. Personalizing onboarding is just one way to demonstrate that the company values each individual’s talents and contributions, but it's an important one that can have lasting positive effects on your business.

Topics: Employee Onboarding, Hiring Strategies

Mitchell Buchanan

Written by Mitchell Buchanan

Mitchell is a Marketing Operations Specialist at The McQuaig Institute. He is a University of Waterloo graduate in the field of Speech Communication, with a specialization in Digital Arts Communication.