Onboarding is considered to be a game-changer when it comes to bringing great people into your company and giving them a positive experience. The companies that place an emphasis on properly onboarding new hires tend to enjoy higher retention levels, faster hire to productivity rates, and overall happier employees. In fact, according to the results of a study that appeared in The Society for Human Resource Management blog, nearly 70 percent of employees are more likely to stay with their company for up to three years if they had a great onboarding experience. That's significant, given that many employees make the decision to leave their jobs in the first 45 days of employment and it’s costly to replace them. But what happens when onboarding fails? Could you inadvertently be making some key mistakes that undermine your great onboarding program?
Common reasons onboarding fails
If you think there might be a problem with your onboarding approach, take a step back and see if you might have stumbled into one of these common onboarding mistakes:
1) Overloading with information: New hires have a lot to learn in a short period of time. One of the worst things that an employer can do is trying to cram too much information in during the early days. It's best to take a look at what a new employee needs to be successful early on in the process and what information or resources can be added as their role becomes more complex.
2) Not having goals aligned with the position: The point of an onboarding program is not only to get new hires oriented to the company and their new position, but it's also to help them see where they fit into the bigger picture. New hires must be able to envision themselves as part of the solution and having goals that are aligned with their position connects them to the organizational vision.
3) Ending onboarding after the first week: Employee onboarding programs should be a continual process of growth for all new employees. Ideally, a full onboarding program would be at least a year as this makes it possible for employees to become fully proficient in their role but at a minimum 90 days should be the goal. First weeks are intense and if you only have a 5 day onboarding program, odds are your new employee won't remember most of what they learn in those early days.
4) No accountability: Goals without accountability are not terribly useful. No two employees will have the same goals, therefore it's important that supervisors work with each individual employee to determine what objectives make the most sense for each new hire. These goals must be revisited and should be evaluated on a regular basis, but the ultimate idea is for the employee to know exactly what they need to do, what success looks like, and what they are responsible for "owning."
5) Lack of online resources: A big problem that many new hires have is not knowing where to find information when they need it. This becomes even more frustrating when supervisors are too busy or unavailable for a number of reasons to direct new hires. The simplest answer is to provide a central online storage platform where all information and training is accessible on-demand.
Be mindful as you create your Employee onboarding Program and consider the value of focusing on the long-term versus short-term information. Employees who feel supported tend to stay engaged in the process of learning and finding their place within the organization whereas those who don't run the risk of becoming disengaged early.
Factors of a strong onboarding approach
Now that you know some of the common pitfalls to avoid, what does a good strategy actually look like? Consider some of the following success factors in your onboarding design to get it back on track.
1) Prepare new employees before the offer is made: Employee onboard should be an ongoing effort that starts even before someone begins work. Educating candidates about what they can expect after an offer is a good way to set your next steps up for success. Communicating with them before day one also helps set the stage for what they're walking into and decreases anxiety.
2) Set new hires up with everything they need from day one: It's critical that all new employees have access to the information, technology, and resources that they need to be successful from their very first day on the job. As part of onboarding, make sure that they have login information and know how to access everything they need to do their work.
3) Have regular check-ins: When new hires feel supported by their supervisor and department leaders they tend to do better during the initial orientation and onboarding process. Make it a point to schedule regular face-to-face meetings with management and their new hires. Use this as a time for coaching and helping new hires overcome any obstacles they may encounter.
4) Reward and recognize new hires for the value they bring to the team: It's not fun being the person on the bottom of the totem pole therefore employers should make an effort to recognize the contributions that new employees are making to the team. As part of this recognition, small tokens of reward can be issued to promote productivity and engagement. This could be as simple as taking a new hire out for lunch or just making the time to say thank you.
5) Support employees with their current and future goals: It's important that all employers take the time to get to know their employees and what they want to get out of their career in the short and long term. Take the time to learn about your new hire and what they're looking for out of their role in order to help them be successful and build a stronger rapport.
Employee onboarding takes planning
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking any onboarding is more effective than no onboarding and to a point, that's true. But after all the time that goes into the recruiting process, wouldn't you rather go the extra step and train new hires thoroughly? Effective onboarding can help boost employee engagement, employee retention rates, and overall job satisfaction. It can be the difference between an employee raving about their new role and one who starts idly browsing LinkedIn again. And remember, it should also be about more than just making a good first impression. Staying on top of your strategy and program can help you avoid common mistakes that derail your training. So next time you have to put together an onboarding plan, really think about the employee experience and what you can do to ensure your new employees aren't just welcomed, but also well trained.