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4 Steps to Getting Onboarding Right for Your New Hires

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吉祥彩票官网Male boss welcoming new female employee to office.

If you’ve ever had a poor onboarding experience, it probably went something like this.

You turn up for your first day of work at your new job, not really sure what you should be doing. You haven’t heard from your new employer since signing the contract four weeks ago. Your new manager appears flustered; he scrambles to clear a spare desk, find you a laptop, and give you the number of the IT team to begin the arduous process of setting up access to email and other systems. With a sigh, you start to work your way through a small mountain of onboarding paperwork. 

A study by found that great onboarding can improve retention by over 80%, yet 88% of organizations don’t onboard well. The study also revealed:

  • 58% of organizations’ onboarding programs are primarily built around form-filling, processes, and compliance.
  • Most organizations’ onboarding programs last only one week.
  • Negative onboarding experiences result in new hires being twice as likely to look for other career opportunities. Research from found that companies lose an average of 25% of all new hires in the first year, with 20% walking out within the first 45 days of employment. 

Getting onboarding right is not only better for internal culture but crucial for business; it will improve retention, keep employees engaged, and even lessen the time it will take them to reach full productivity.

Here are four tips for getting onboarding right.

1. Make Use of Onboarding Technology

Onboarding doesn't need to be about paperwork! There are dozens of excellent, low-cost onboarding technology solutions on the market. The best platforms feature:

  • Mobile (app-based) functionality
  • Paperless and mobile-friendly forms
  • The ability to upload video introductions
  • Digital training (eLearning)
  • Integration with other HR programs
  • The creation of workflows that alert various people in the business about what they need to do (such as telling an IT professional to set up email access)
  • Audit trails: for example, a new employee may have to tick a box to show that they’ve read an important message

Onboarding technology and automation free up time that an HR professional or manager would otherwise have to spend on face-to-face activities with the new starter.

Onboarding platforms are available as standalone products but can also be included as part of a broader HR platform.

2. Have Clear Ownership of Onboarding

One of the common problems with onboarding new staff is that it’s often unclear whose job it is.

Is it the recruitment team’s responsibility? HR? Or is it up to the new employee's direct manager?

Whatever the decision ends up being, that person will have to marshal other team members to get things done, such as procuring a laptop, asking IT to set up access to systems, contacting the person in charge of L&D to arrange new-starter training, and so on.

Many of the tasks that take place during onboarding have a compliance focus, which is why somebody needs to take ownership to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. 

3. Don’t Waste the Opportunity to “Preboard” Before Day One

In the scenario above, the new-starter hadn’t heard from their new employer since signing the contract. This is a wasted opportunity, as these crucial weeks could have been used to launch the onboarding process using a digital platform.

This could involve:

  • Getting all processes and compliance tasks done before their first day in the office.
  • Sending video introductions from the CEO and other senior staff.
  • Scheduling calls with the manager, colleagues, and stakeholders they’ll be working with.
  • Getting as much training done as possible via digital learning before day one. Once they’re on-site, new starters can complete any training that is unavoidably face-to-face.
  • Setting up access to systems, passwords, etc.
  • Providing practical information such as what the new starter can expect on their first day, what to wear, maps of the area, coffee and lunch-spot recommendations, and more.
  • Keeping the new-starter engaged and enthusiastic about their new role.

Best-practice onboarding reduces candidate uncertainty and shifts the focus away from form-filling to embrace a much broader idea of what onboarding can involve.

4. Lengthen the Onboarding Period

How long is the official onboarding period in your organization? For many, it’s just four to five days, during which the new starter spends their time filling out paperwork, attending training, or reading policy documents while their workstation is set up.

A different approach is to consider onboarding to last as long as it takes for a new starter to hit full productivity. Realistically, this can take anything from eight months to one year (and remember, great onboarding can shorten the time-to-productivity).

Once the initial flurry of onboarding activity is complete,  goals for the onboarding process should be set at 30 days, 90 days, six months, and one year.

Onboarding is about attention and recognition. A well-designed onboarding program provides a vehicle with which to ensure new starters feel they are appreciated and supported by the organization from day one.

Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

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