Employee Onboarding Programs

Quick question for you! True or false: Successful employee onboarding programs are difficult to come by, and even more difficult, time-consuming and expensive to implement.

Answer? False.

If you chose true, don’t feel bad. Most companies would agree with you. They think of onboarding as a mountain of extra stuff that will be shoved onto their already overly packed to-do lists and schedules. To make matters worse, even if they are open to the idea of an onboarding program, they aren’t really sure where to start. They try and push it off or delay making decisions, but that only prolongs and intensifies new-hire pain points. What they don’t realize is that onboarding solutions are necessary, they’re out there and they don’t need to be as time-consuming and expensive to put together as they’ve been lead to believe.

As a matter of fact, companies with standard onboarding procedures experience 50% greater new hire retention – which translates into HUGE savings later on down the road, fewer new, employee-related pain points and decreased new hire to-do list items.

If all of that sounds good to you, and you’re ready to learn how to start building your own program, then take a look at these 13 hard and fast rules to make your new employee onboarding program successful.

1. Have a formal onboarding process in place to ensure all stakeholders know what’s expected of them.

Your onboarding process doesn’t have to be a super detailed and arduous process, but it does need to outline the responsibilities of each person involved. For example, the individual chosen to be the new hire guide needs to understand that they are expected to show the new hire where the coffee is, where all bathrooms and emergency exits are located and the location of that amazing little curry place everyone in the office loves. The manager should then be responsible for setting a goal meeting within the first two weeks to determine KPIs.

2. Ensure new employees arrive on Day 1 ready to be productive.

We’ve written about this before, but laptops, tablets, desktop computers and phones need to be setup and operational before the new hire walks through the door. Take it a step further and ensure that all email addresses and aliases have been created, all paperwork completed via an onboarding software solution and that a schedule is in place so you can give your new hire an idea of what his or her first day(s) will look like. Essentially, if your new hire spends his first day feeling “in the way” or “useless” then your onboarding solution ISN’T WORKING.

3. Develop a formal process to solicit feedback.

Do you currently survey your new hires? Do they have the option to point out inefficiencies in the process or the ability to help make it better for the next set of new employees? If not, add a feedback step to the onboarding process mix!

4. Make sure to map specific competency requirements or development plans.

How are your people supposed to know how their work impacts their team, department or customers if it’s not something they can see? Mapping goals changes this scenario from frustrated and confused new hire, to excited and dynamic contributor.

5. Attribute changes in profitability directly to onboarding.

With great onboarding comes great changes in your profitability. Your new hires will become more productive more quickly, your retention rates will spike and your overall work environment will improve. You’ll also see your experienced employees contributing more, sharing more and learning new skills. Just make sure that as you see all of these benefits bubble to the surface, you’re tying these results back to your initial onboarding investment.

6. Support the transition of new employees into their roles.

Well, obviously! But do you really know how this works? If you can’t show this kind of value in your onboarding program then you need to examine how you can make that transition easier. Solicit feedback from those who have experienced your onboarding program recently…and not so recently.

7. Align skill development with what is needed for the new role.

If you’re a progressive company that hires for fit over skills, great! But make sure you include skills development (and goals) in your employee onboarding program. It’s not fair to ask a “not-yet-skilled” worker to hit the same goals as someone who’s skilled but still new. Consider incorporating an LMS or knowledge base in your onboarding platform and process.

8. Increase speed-to-productivity.

If your employee onboarding program slows everyone down and frustrates new employees, it’s doing the polar opposite of what it should be doing. Never invest in an onboarding solution that stymies the growth of new workers by making it too arduous or simplistic. Get the boring paperwork and useless goals out of the way so you can work on becoming productive!

9. Create a bond between new employees and the employer.

Aligning job goals to the overall organizational goals is one way to do this. Creating a “welcome buddy” system is another. Giving away swag or taking the new hire out to lunch are other ways. How does your program incorporate the new employee into your workplace?

10. Immerse new employees in the company’s culture and vision.

Have you told your newest employee about the unwritten rules of your company? Do they know where the bagels are when the delivery guy brings them? Are they aware that meetings are frowned upon before 10 am? Could they recite your values or goals? If not, then you haven’t really immersed them in the culture, now have you?

11. Connect new hire roles to the success of the company.

This should happen as early as the job advertisement and continue through to the onboarding phase. How are they impacting your company? How does their job make a difference? If you can’t find the connection, why are you hiring them?

12. Help new employees feel sure about the decision they’ve made to join the company.

It’s a jobseeker market out there, folks, and even when it wasn’t competitive, it was still hard to find great talent. Cutting the new hire off the second you get a “yes” is the worst thing you can do to make them feel secure and productive in the new office. Take the time to integrate them into the company, and they’ll be more inclined to stay.

13. Increase the likelihood that new hires will informally recruit others to the organization.

If your new employee was happy with the process and is happy with the new job, then they will be happy to share that information with friends, family and former coworkers. Hello employee referral super charge!

See, that wasn’t so bad was it? And hammering out the details so that your fresh, new onboarding program is successful won’t be so bad either. Get your ducks in a row, follow these rules and start onboarding new employees with some confidence!

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