Hiring, firing, and everything in between.

The area between talent acquisition and talent management.

The candidate-to-applicant experience. 

We talk about all these things but rarely talk about onboarding at length, and it’s a darn shame because onboarding is the thing that actually fits in all the above categories. It completes the candidate experience and starts off employee engagement the right way. It is the thing that comes after hiring and hopefully WAY before firing. An intrinsic part of talent acquisition and talent management. Get the picture? It’s important!

Perhaps because the employee onboarding process is frequently thought to be between 30-90 days (when studies show it should be closer to a year) we assume that a short process has less importance in the scheme of the total employee lifecycle. But that’s a poor comparison, especially since, according to SHRM.org, 90% of employees make their decision to stay at a company within the first six months.

So how can you make your onboarding experience memorable, exciting, and even favorable? Let’s take a page from the playbooks of companies who have gotten onboarding right:

Companies that get onboarding right have a system.

Onboarding is more than paperwork and goal setting, but you’d never know it by looking at most onboarding software solutions. That’s because the solution is there to take care of the admin work: the filling out of forms, paperwork, and the things that when not done, will get you a bad rap from the compliance department. When you have a system to take care of these things, it allows you to focus on the onboarding work that matters. So step one, find a system to take care of the onboarding basics. (We have a suggestion).

Companies that get onboarding right start at the offer acceptance.

Whether it’s company swag, a card with a team picture, a celebratory lunch, or a special gift that underscores your company values, make sure the candidate receives something tangible and experiential that says “Welcome.” Percolate gives all of the above, including a Kindle, for the following reason:

“That’s linked to the core idea that we are a learning organization. It’s our responsibility to help encourage people to continue to read and make themselves better. They can read whatever they want, but personally I find the Kindle to be a pretty amazing device for continuing to find new ideas in the world.”

Companies that get onboarding right have the new hire bond with the team ahead of time.

Whether it’s the aforementioned celebratory lunch or a video bonding session, your new hire needs to meet his or her team ahead of time. And it’s a great time to be a manager or the new hire facilitator because even if flying out your newest employee to meet the team isn’t possible, we have all the technology these days. Use Skype or Slack or even GoToMeeting to introduce your new hire to the company and schedule time into your current team’s day to make it a priority. Getting pushback on the time it takes? Just use this handy stat chart to justify the cost:

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30-50% of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150% of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400% of their annual salary.

Companies who get onboarding right set the stage for the best first day ever.

Email, intranet, message boards, schedule, and phone number, are the tools of the modern workplace.No matter what your best first day looks like, everyone, even spontaneous new hires, will be thrilled to know what’s in store.

By setting this up ahead of time and notifying them of logins and anticipated agenda, you also let them subtly know you are thinking about their first day with anticipation. That is flattering to a nervous new employee. Find a way to make it as organized, streamlined and welcoming as possible. It’s a great idea to start this on the Friday before their first Monday. You can also introduce them to a mentor you’ve selected to show them around and make their first days and weeks a little easier.

Companies who get onboarding right tell the new hire about unwritten rules.

Every company has them. For some, it might be CCing the manager on client emails; for others, it could be no food in a certain trash can and for others, it could be “no shorts allowed.” The point is, new employees often fall afoul of these rules because they never knew about them in the first place. Companies who over-inform their new employees rarely have this issue. Poll your existing employees to find out what they wish they’d known on their first day and you will find out everything you need to know to fill up your “Day One Document.”

Companies that get onboarding right accelerate the hard meetings.

Some companies will avoid difficult meetings until the new hire is acclimated. But it might be a better idea to supplement these meetings with deep-dive meetings so the new hire has a great idea of exactly what everyone in her department does. A brand new employee will find his feet much faster when he knows who does what and how they do it. Don’t avoid these meetings, try to have them in the first week.

Companies that get onboarding right start from the top down.

While it might not be possible for your CEO to meet with all new hires, you can build out management who give even the most entry-level of new hires some face time. Along with a mentor selected to show them the ins and outs of the company, this can really make new employees feel valued, listened to, and excited about their future.

What do you think? Does your company do any or all of these best onboarding practices on this list? Are there best practices for onboarding we missed? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on the LinkedIn Onboarding Group!