What is Onboarding And How to Do It Right

February 21, 2018

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Employee turnover is expensive for businesses. That’s why support programs for newcomers is such a hot topic. Today we will talk about employee onboarding — the process of bringing new employees into the company and providing them with information, training, mentoring and coaching throughout their transition.

Retaining new and existing employees is vital for any company. Hiring is not only a costly process: with every employee that leaves, engagement, morale and productivity of the whole team may suffer. A recent study by John Kammeyer-Mueller and co-authors, “Support, Undermining, and Newcomer Socialization: Fitting in During the First 90 Days”, shows that the first three months, (which typically coincide with the probationary period), are crucial in building harmonious relationships with a team and fitting in with the company and its management style.

The study shows that high support levels from team leaders facilitated more positive attitudes by new hires towards their job, and they tended to work harder. However, when the opposite happened, and encouragement and direction were not offered, this led to unhappy and unproductive newcomers who couldn’t manage much more than the first few months.

As put simply by Michel Falcon, an international keynote speaker and corporate culture advisor, employee onboarding (not to be confused with new employee training) is the careful planning and designing of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired. “If you’re a small business, walk your new employee to the desks or work areas of every team member and introduce them personally. If you’re a medium or large business, send an email to the entire company or post on your internal online portal with a simple introduction of your newest team member. You can make it engaging by including their photo and some quirky facts,” he suggests.

Creating a structured onboarding program that contains all the “hows” and “whys” is vital: compensation packages alone do not lead to productive and engaged employees. Real training is a learning process that for different companies may encompass:

  • – programs, best practices, technology and equipment training;
  • – job shadowing and mentoring: creating a clear point of contact to direct any questions, comments or concerns;
  • – reaching out to a new employee even before they come to work to walk them through  their first day;
  • – orientation, learning about the company ethics code and work principles;
  • – paying special attention to explaining the company’s culture and values;
  • – setting clearly-defined and achievable goals for their work.

Proper onboarding and new hire integration happens gradually and may take up to 12 months. This process cannot be hurried and doing it thoroughly might even involve bringing people from all levels of the organization, no matter where they sit in the hierarchy. And the upsides from doing it right are enormous: according to the SHRM Foundation’s findings, new employees who go through a well-structured onboarding process are 69 percent more likely to remain with a company for at least three years.

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