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Check out our weekly blog posts and see the latest news and discussions happening in the HR world of business.

The Importance of Employee Onboarding

After months of searching, you have finally found the right person for the job. You are eager for them to get started and are confident they will hit the hit the ground running and be up to speed in no time…Until they don’t. Is there anything you could have done to prevent this? Or, even if it wasn’t a total wash, is there anything you could have done to make the transition to the new role that much easier. 

Enter employee onboarding, a series of programming designed to get your new hire up to speed with not just your company (who you are, what you do, what you value), but also with their specific new job (think computer systems, product platforms, client databases) and how it fits into the broader context of your business (who do they report to, who do they collaborate with, which department they assist most). For many companies, however, employee onboarding starts and stops with a quick chat with HR and some guidance on filling out good ol’ fashioned new hire paperwork. 

Below, we’ve outline just a few key benefits associated with a comprehensive employee onboarding curriculum: 

Rapid ramp up: 
While we often think of shortening the ramping up period as a benefit for the company, it’s actually also beneficial for the employee not to feel like they’re stuck in a state of profound floundering. When we talk about ramping up, what we’re really discussing is decreasing the time to an employee achieving proficiency and becoming a productive and contributing member of the team. Suggest that these programs can boost employee productivity by up to 10 percent. However, the onboarding process can also set the stage for continued success in the company and include components of performance planning, career pathing, and general goal setting. 

Rule follower: 
When you are not aware of the rules, it’s hard to not break them! Many companies will toss the employee handbook at a new hire and expect them to wade through what can include hundreds of rules and regulations, many of which may not be at all important or even relevant to this particular employee. However, having someone review and discuss your company’s most important or relevant policies, including how they are applied to this employee’s specific role, can facilitate long-term compliance with company rules. 

Happy camper: 
A strong onboarding program sets the tone for your employee’s entrance into the company. Telling your new hire about your organization, company culture, and opportunities for development, as well as giving them training in the tools they need in order to be successful in their new role, will contribute to a positive experience because employees will feel valued right out of the gate. This will help employees to feel more invested in your business and more engaged, which in turn leads to improved on-the-job performance and job satisfaction. 

Keep it cultural: 
If you want to have a strong company culture, you need to make employees aware of it from day one. An onboarding program that includes information about your mission and values, as well as how you work them into various facets of your company, can help employees to feel better connected to your business. Further, a strong connection to company culture closely correlates to improved retention rates, which brings us to our next point.

Sticking around:
When you roll out the welcome mat, it makes it harder for employees to walk back out the door! And when you have only just dished out all kinds of time and money to find and hire this new person, keeping said employee should really be a front of mind issue. Need proof? In one study, organizations that offered a comprehensive onboarding process were found to have an 82-percent improvement in new hire retention compared to their peers without such offerings. 

Hire up: 
It may seem strange to consider an onboarding tool for a new hire as being useful in attracting future talent, but the reality is that a strong program can set you apart from your competitors. Consider this: if you have a successful onboarding program, you can tell job candidates that you set your employees up for success from day one, that your employees enjoy a shortened ramp up period and achieve proficiency quickly. With this, you may even be able to tout your lower employee turnover rates, all of which can make you more appealing to a candidate evaluating several offers. You can even up the ante by asking new hires to write a review on Glassdoor about their experience to date in the company, and if you have a good program, chances are they will have had a more favorable experience and will write you a glowing review. Now that you understand the components and the perks when you should plan on beginning the onboarding process? According to one study, 83 percent of the highest performing companies begin the onboarding process before the new hire even walks through the door. Indeed, once a candidate has accepted an offer, companies in the know give new hires access to a special onboarding portal where they can fill out all the mountains of paperwork, find information about what to expect on their first day, and even access a copy of the employee handbook. Some also personalize the portal to include information that will be super relevant to the new hire, such as information about the structure of their department, how they fit into the broader company, and even who their point people should be for various questions or issues they may encounter. In creating such a portal, the employee feels immediately engaged and often relieved to be checking things off a to-do list while HR can monitor remotely to make sure that paperwork is filled out in a timely fashion. 

On the first day, you should allow the new hire to meet their new manager, coworkers, and any other folks that they will be expected to interact with regularly so that they can begin forging social connections. The next week or so should include a gradual tapering of information on the broader company and increased time spent learning about their new role with hands on training by managers and their peers.

However, any good onboarding program won’t stop there. Rather, there should be periodic checkups with both managers and HR reps to ensure that the employee is comfortable in their new role and feeling both engaged and supported. These meetings should also serve as a time to provide feedback to the now not-so-new-hire about their performance to date and what, if anything, they need to change to become more successful. As to how long this onboarding process should run, it certainly varies by industry and based on the job at hand, but those in the know suggest that it should run to the one year mark when the employee is expected to have fully ramped up their performance and the employees goals shift more towards career development and promotion. 

Want to learn more about how to establish a comprehensive employee onboarding program? Reach out and tell us about your needs and we will be happy to work with you to develop a program that more than fits the bill.

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