Why an effective onboarding process is important

It’s common for organisations to underestimate the importance of implementing an effective onboarding programme, with many viewing the process as a time consuming, administrative headache. The consequences of poor onboarding can however result in lower engagement and productivity, and higher turnover. According to Forbes, ‘the lack of effective onboarding is a major reason why companies lose 17% of their new hires within the first 3 months and why 20% of all staff turnover occurs within 45 days of employment’.

Successful onboarding helps new employees get off on the right foot and results in them feeling more connected with their role, team, and the company.

Just some of the benefits of onboarding employees the right way include:

  • Engaged and enthusiastic employees

Employees who are engaged with their job and the organisation tend to be more productive, focussed and motivated. They also tend to work more efficiently towards the achievement of common organisational goals. Happy, engaged employees go above and beyond for their employer, always willing to go the extra mile.

  • Retain top talent for longer

The measures you take to integrate new employees into the company can have a lasting impact. And by failing to provide new hires with adequate support, you may risk losing them over time. The result is then having to repeat the hiring process all over again which is time consuming and costly. Research by the Brandon Hall Group found that ‘organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70%.’ A high turnover rate will have a negative impact on the health of your employer brand, which is increasingly important in a heavily talent-focused economy and a tight labour market.

  • Save time and money

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, ‘a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000.’ HR invest a substantial amount of time, budget and resources into every new hire and if you lose employees quickly, it’s simply money down the drain. Repeating the recruitment and onboarding process is uncomfortable and expensive.

  • Set new employees up for success

Businesses bring in new talent expecting them to make a valuable contribution. But even the most capable employees need time to adjust to the company culture. An effective onboarding process sets the tone for the entire employee experience and is a key component of an employee development strategy. The onboarding process is the first real taste the employee gets of the company and its working environment. By creating a positive and well-planned induction that focuses on helping new hires adjust well to their new role, you are setting them up for long term success.

  • Improve workplace culture

The onboarding programme presents an opportunity to give new hires insight into the company culture, and to get employee buy-in on core values, attitudes, and processes. Cultivating a strong corporate culture and sharing it via your hiring and onboarding process is vital for attracting and retaining the best and right talent. If you want new hires to embody the company’s mission and values, the best time to show them what that looks like is during the onboarding period.

  • Engage remote employees

The pandemic has raised questions about how to effectively onboard remote talent whilst maintaining a culture that the company has worked hard to establish. For organisations who are used to working on a face-to-face basis, onboarding remote employees poses its own set of challenges. There are however many benefits of virtual onboarding including increased flexibility and efficiency and a wider array of communication methods and virtual training options.

Steps for implementing and managing an effective onboarding process:

  • Don’t wait until the employee’s first day to commence the onboarding programme

 Maintaining regular contact with new hires in the days or weeks leading up to their first day is vital for keeping them engaged. Ensure they are informed about anything they need to prepare in advance, what to expect during the first week and provide them with important resources such as the company handbook, directions to the office, contact details they may need, company literature/pre-employment reading or any training they need to complete prior to starting.

  • Maintain communication with employees once they’re on board

Send personalised emails, welcome letters and useful resources. Ensure they have everything they need in the form of organisational charts and contact details for team members and other departments. Make them feel welcome, reach out regularly to ask them how they are getting on and whether they need any help. Be mindful however of not overloading employees with too much information, there is a lot to take in when starting a new job, and you don’t want to overwhelm them and skyrocket their stress levels by inundating them.

  • Create an interactive onboarding process

 Workplace fun is a critical component for enhancing the success of your onboarding programme. So, engage new hires and offer them a memorable induction by creating an interactive experience, for example by using video content, quizzes, live demonstrations, games, activities and practice tests and assignments. You could run a scavenger hunt for example to introduce new employees to the different departments. Interactive activities serve a purpose beyond education since they promote the crucial formation of bonds between new recruits and existing employees.

  • Assign new hires a buddy

 An additional layer of support can positively impact the initial experience of a new employee. As they know very little about the organisation and how things work, they are going to be bursting with questions. Being new however also means they may feel uncomfortable about asking so many questions, which keeps them submerged in a cloud of confusion. Buddies can provide much needed clarification and shed light on cultural norms, practices and processes, which in turn helps new hires become more productive in their role.

All too often, employers are in such a rush to get employees going with pressing tasks and projects, that they cut corners and sidestep the introductory process, failing to recognise the fact that onboarding can make or break a new hire’s experience. Whilst onboarding requires an initial investment of time, energy and careful planning, organisations who foster strategic induction processes are far less likely to experience problematic employees, turnover issues, and lack of motivation further down the line.

If organisations took a long hard look at their approach to the integration of new hires, they’ll benefit from a loyal workforce who generate results faster and will be less likely to see greener grass elsewhere. When handled efficiently, optimising the onboarding process can pay dividends in terms of engagement, productivity, and retention.

If you’re interested in talking to our team about how we could help you develop an effective onboarding strategy, or how we could help you meet your scientific staffing needs in the second half of 2022, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.

Author Vicki Robinson

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