Hand on heart, how good is your onboarding process?

Few will argue against the importance of having a good onboarding process for new employees. Research shows that in Fortune 500 companies alone, half of all senior executive outside hires fail within 18 months of entry and half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days*.

Åsa Einarsson

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as high as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. SHRM estimates that it will cost an average of six to nine months of an employee's salary to identify and onboard a replacement.

Organizations that have effective onboarding processes are better able to prevent the failure and disappointment demonstrated by these statistics. Onboarding keeps new hires engaged during the transition into an organization, even more importantly, it demonstrably improves time-to-productivity, performance, engagement, and retention of new hires*. Yet, despite these compelling statistics only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.

Creating an onboarding process should be fun! You have found the right talent, which in today’s tough market is really a win in itself, now you have the opportunity to give this person a great start and unlock their best qualities in the workplace. Creating excitement and anticipation creates interest and engagement while helping to establish a strong and positive connection to your brand. Digital technologies can make onboarding a smooth, personalized, and engaging experienceand even allow you to start the new hire’s journey long before their first day at the company.

"Embrace the changing landscape we’re in. Create an unforgettable on-boarding process that is easy to update and reinvent, and that stays fresh."

We’ve helped many companies and organizations digitize their on-boarding processes, and we’d like to share the following 8 tips on setting your new employees off to a great start:

  • Gather and package up-to-date lessons in an easily digestible format. Knowledge should be available at point-of-need and learning should be available in the moment. Just-in-time learning and micro-learning are not just buzzwords – they make sense when targeted lessons are instantly available whenever, wherever they are needed.
  • Even though practicality comes first, remember to empower your people to succeed. Introduce employees to key stakeholders, provide a path for mentorships, schedule formal networking opportunities, and brainstorm original ways to build a more cohesive corporate culture.
  • Remember that it’s not only the new employee that needs onboarding, you will want to onboard your team with the new colleague too.
  • Encourage feedback at every stage throughout the on-boarding process. You will see certain patterns of questions arise in different stages along the way. These help you identify areas for improvements in the hiring process, first impressions of your brand, the employee experience of the first day on the job, insights into team/workplace arrangements, etc. You can look at trendsor the first week, first month, and so on, as well as capturing their expectations for the road ahead.
  • Use different media to create engaging content. It’s easy to get stuck in the habit of simply adding text and slides. With today's technology, it’s fairly easy to create interactive communication, online videos or podcasts. Many companies create a video with a personal greeting from the CEO. Welcoming the new employee with exciting new tech means so much more than the same old boring, formal written intro.
  • Embrace the changing landscape we’re in. Create an unforgettable on-boarding process that is easy to update and reinvent, and that stays fresh.
  • Reconsider how long on-boarding should take. A well-planned on-boarding process starts before the first day of work and stretches past the introduction to the job. It should provide a framework that encourages continuous exploration, internal networking, and knowledge sharing.
  • What happens next? Share your Learning & Development strategy with new employees and inform them about all of the learning resources you have available.

We believe that continuous learning and development for both the company and the individual are key success factors. We know that learning starts with the very first meeting and sticks with the employee as they grow. Continuous learning supports change processes, increases engagement, attracts/retains the best talent and futureproofs your business.

Sources: *Maria Grillo, Hee Kyoung Kim (2015), A Strategic Approach to Onboarding Design: Surveys, Materials, & Diverse Hire, Cornell University ILR School

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Explore an example of a completely new onboarding experience in Loops!

Åsa Einarsson, learning designer, L&D strateg & processledare, Loops Education.


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