Employee onboarding at the majority of organizations focuses on completing new hire paperwork and explaining processes. It’s administrative, serving the needs of the employer and ensuring compliance. But this is a mistake. Doing too little during this crucial transition period can lead to higher turnover, lower engagement, and poor productivity, among other things.
On the other hand, innovative organizations are finding many benefits of onboarding employees more strategically, including:
1. Stronger employee experience
Job openings are at an all-time high, and your employees have no shortage of opportunities available to them. If they don’t enjoy the employee experience at your organization, they can easily find another opportunity that better suits them.
A great onboarding process sets the tone for the entire employee experience. Focusing on things like company culture, employee development, and frequent check-ins show new hires that you care about their experience at your company. Extending these focus areas beyond your onboarding period then continues that strong employee experience, from hire to retire.
2. Higher employee engagement
Engaged employees go above and beyond in their work, leading to things like higher productivity and profitability, and lower absenteeism and turnover. The problem is, only 33 percent of employees are engaged.
Onboarding the right way can help employees feel more connected to your organization, and it’s mission, vision, and values. Set your new hires up with a buddy, and help them learn about the company in an interesting way—perhaps over breakfast with the CEO. Provide early recognition for a job well done, and gather and implement employee feedback. Including these activities in your employee onboarding program can help you build employee engagement from day one.
3. Better employee retention
Employee retention is top of mind for many organizations this year, and for good reason. Employee turnover is expensive once you factor in things like the cost to backfill the position and the cost of vacancy. While some turnover is always expected, you still want to maximize your employee lifetime value. Replacing a new hire within 90 days is more wasteful than replacing a more tenured employee who has provided your organization with years of productivity.
Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent. This should begin with employee preboarding the moment an offer letter is signed, as 11 percent of candidates have changed their minds on an offer after signing. Extend a warm welcome to build off the excitement of your recruitment process and offer, and provide a smooth transition from candidate to a new hire. Get the paperwork out of the way so your employee’s first day can be filled with celebration, introductions, and early learning. Then continue your onboarding process for at least 90 days to ensure new hires properly acclimate and assimilate to their new roles—and stay long-term.
4. Easier talent attraction
Twenty percent of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend of a family member after their new hire onboarding experience. This is problematic, as dissatisfied employees can make their opinions publicly known, and tarnish your employer brand in the process, on review sites like Glassdoor or InHerSight.
An engaging onboarding program that provides a stellar employee experience can go a long way in helping you not only retain talent—it can help you attract strong candidates, too. Once you’ve provided a world-class onboarding experience, ask your new hires to write you a preliminary review on Glassdoor. Also, be sure to loop new hires in on your employee referral program, so they can easily recommend great talent from within their networks. Employee referrals are known to be faster and less expensive to hire, onboard faster, and stay longer, making this an important channel for sourcing candidates.
5. Stronger company culture
It’s not enough to attract and retain talent—you need to attract and retain the right talent. For instance, someone who’s a great fit for Amazon’s culture of high standards probably isn’t going to be the right fit for Zappo’s zany culture. Building a strong, intentional company culture and sharing it throughout your recruitment and onboarding processes can help you attract and retain the right people.
Sixty nine percent of companies that invest in employee onboarding report easier assimilation into the corporate culture. Share information about your company’s mission, vision, and values early—and often—in the employee lifecycle. Use things like onboarding materials and all-hands meetings to highlight employee stories and company wins that reinforce your values and ensure cultural alignment.
6. Increased productivity
New hires typically need the better part of a year to ramp to full productivity. Between things like getting to know your organization and building relationships to forge cross-functional teams, it takes time to settle into a new role.
Onboarding employees the right way can speed up this process, decreasing time to proficiency and improving productivity by over 70 percent. A great onboarding process helps the new hire become acclimated to the organization, and facilitates relationship building between employees. It also includes goal setting, frequent manager check-ins, and employee development so employees know what’s expected of them, where they stand and have a plan to improve. Only 21 percent of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, making this an impactful focus area for many organizations.
A strategic employee onboarding process is more involved than printing out paperwork and creating a PowerPoint deck with company processes—but it pays off. There are many benefits of onboarding employees more strategically. Some, such as improved productivity, affect your top line. Others, such as improved retention, can make a significant impact on your bottom line. Consider your onboarding program a work in progress, implementing new ideas as you’re able, and gathering feedback to improve. Over time, you’ll surely see more benefits of onboarding employees the right way.