Posted by Kathy Follett-Lloyd,
Vice President, Human Resources, HGS Canada
I will always remember an exit interview I conducted with a contact centre employee who had been with us for six weeks. While she had great things to say about her Trainer, after being in production for two full weeks, she still had not met her Team Leader in person. At that moment we realized the importance of creating an Onboarding Blueprint to help leaders connect with new employees and increase their chances for success during the first 90 days of employment.
Onboarding is the process of acquiring, integrating, and accelerating new team members into the work environment. Keeping in mind we never get a second chance to make a first impression, Onboarding empowers new team members with information to understand the organization and reinforces the behaviours that will set them up for success on the job.
Onboarding focuses on:
- Employee retention
- Employee engagement
- Employee productivity
- A strong employer welcome
- Affirmation the employee chose the right employer
- Affirmation the employee fits the organization
- Long-term relationship building
Having devoted the time and resources to compete for talent, “quick” turnover is costly. Statistics show employees are most vulnerable to leaving an organization within the first three months after they are hired. Making a good first impression is therefore crucial.
Orientation vs Onboarding: What’s the Difference?
While orientation for new employees is a well-established human resources practice, Onboarding is a more comprehensive process by which new employees are socialized into a company’s culture, in addition to being oriented to their specific job tasks and associated work expectations.
Successful Onboarding is not simply an improved orientation to the organization. It is an inclusive system for success woven into the entire experience in the course of your new hire’s first year. Onboarding is successful when all departments within an organization are involved and the experience is tailored to an organization’s circumstances and specific objectives. The goal of this partnership is to establish a long-term relationship with the employee that begins even before the employee is hired and will endure the everyday trials of the workplace.
Research supports the idea that effective Onboarding can have a dramatic effect on job performance and satisfaction, organizational commitment and retention.
Multiple approaches to Onboarding are necessary to address the varying levels and responsibilities of employees as well as their experiences and expectations. While one basic list of items to be completed at each step will be consistent, variations in the length of the experience, the tactical approaches to integration, and the staff involved may change based on the needs of the newly hired employee.
To ensure a successful onboarding experience, ensure you:
- Learn the correct pronunciation of the new employee’s name
- Build some fun into the first few days
- Express an enthusiastic welcome and help employees feel they made the right choice
- Check in with new employees as frequently as possible
- Create and maintain a positive and friendly environment in the workplace
- Reiterate the new employee’s qualities or skills that most impressed you and that helped in making the hiring decision
- Discover what motivates your new employee
- Give new employees some responsibility for their own orientation
Onboarding Provides Multiple Benefits
The Onboarding experience is a win-win for all parties involved. It ensures new hires feel welcomed and prepared in their new positions, in turn giving them the confidence to make a positive and productive impact to the organization.
The key is to engage important stakeholders and new employees in interactions that help them understand one another and how they interact over time. Effective Onboarding will result in a shorter learning curve for new hires, improved communication and a more productive and engaged workforce.
Benefits to an effective Onboarding program include:
- Capitalizing on the excitement of a new job. We are eager when we start new work. We are motivated to learn, to experience, to contribute and to find out what new challenges lay ahead. Employees are most “open” to new ways of doing things at this stage.
- Increasing retention (clarifying, right away, the difference between what the job is and what the new employee thought it was)
- Reducing costs from low productivity, errors, anxiety, and dependency on other employees
- Regaining organizational stability faster, flattening out the proficiency curve
- Reducing workplace conflict. Onboarding provides a clear, mutual understanding of job/organizational and employee expectations/needs while decreasing the need for corrective actions. Onboarding includes communication about the rights and duties of employees, disciplinary requirements and consequences of deviating from a prescribed path, and establishing relationships with co-workers and stakeholders to adjust to the employer’s way of doing things and the supervisor’s approach to supervision
- Helping new employees feel comfortable asking required questions
Successful Onboarding is a key component of any talent management strategy. With the high cost of recruiting, business leaders must understand that effectively integrating new hires into the organization is an important step to ensuring their success. Understanding who owns the Onboarding process as a whole and who controls various steps in the process is vital to Onboarding success and sustainability over time.