Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows companies that invest in a detailed, effective onboarding program retain 50% more of their new hires than their competitors. Similarly, employees who have a positive onboarding experience are 69% more likely to stay employed at their current company for at least three years. With the unemployment rate reaching new lows, signaling a decrease in potential new hires, it’s more important than ever to invest time in crafting a good onboarding experience.
If you need another compelling reason to create an excellent onboarding process, consider additional research from SHRM and PeopleKeep that reveals the average cost of replacing a mid-career employee hovers around $8,000, with different factors that could drive that cost up. The question then is: How do you onboard your new hires with employee retention in mind?
There are numerous things you can do to create an onboarding experience that sets your employees up for a long, happy career at your company. We’ve created a list of six actionable strategies to onboard your new hires.
When it comes to a successful onboarding experience, some work needs to be done before your new hire even sets foot into your office. For example, before their first day, provide them with information such as where to park, what time to arrive, what to wear, whom to ask for when they show up, and a list of anything they need to bring. Some companies may introduce some of this information during the interview process, but if you don’t, be sure to let them know before starting.
Additionally, getting as much administrative work out of the way before your new hire starts is a crucial preparation step. That includes, but not limited to, the following:
- Form W-4
- Form I-9 (important note: employees may complete section 1 before the time of hire, but no earlier than acceptance of the job offer)
- Direct deposit information
- Contact information
- Company-specific documents
Outside of administrative work, there are preparations you can complete to show your new team member that your company is well-organized and ready to welcome them on day one.
- Set up their workstation with a computer, building access badge, uniform, or any other company-branded merchandise they may need to be successful
- Set up their email and including them on appropriate email distribution lists
- Give them access to your company’s intranet and other applications
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Make Their First Day Memorable
Ensure your new hire’s first day is memorable. Inova’s Vice President of Human Capital, Barry Campbell, says, “Day one is your first and last opportunity to capture a new employee’s heart.” It’s your chance to set the relationship off on the right foot.
With that in mind, start building your relationship with your new hire as soon as you can. Begin by having someone, whether it’s a representative from HR or someone from the new employee’s department, greet them. Invite their direct manager to be involved with this initial greeting when possible.
Then, take them on a tour of the office and make introductions, focusing on the head of the department in which they work and any other company executives who are available at the time. Warm welcomes by senior staff and department managers are critical to making your new hire feel welcomed and engaged.
Next, have someone from HR spend a few hours sharing critical company information. If possible, try and have their manager involved as well during these discussions. It’s important to remember that, at this point, your goal is to reinforce their decision to work for you. To do that, go over information such as:
- Your company’s history
- The mission, culture, and values of the company
- Your organization’s hierarchy chart and what to expect from certain executives within the organization
- The company’s products, services, and brand
- Your employee handbook—point out office policies like what time to come in every day, how long their lunch break is, how they should dress
- Name of an individual they can turn to as a mentor
- Company or industry-specific terminology
Their first day should also include a lunch with their manager and some downtime so they can adjust to their work station, learn the layout of the office, check-out the break room, edit their email settings, and update their LinkedIn profile.
Share Your Company’s Mission
Explaining your company’s mission, values, and culture is a critical component of your new hire’s onboarding process.
- Discuss what your company hopes to achieve in the coming years and how their role impacts these goals
- Review company values so they understand what guides organizational behaviors and decision-making and can share in the larger purpose of the company
- Describe the company culture and how they fit into the big picture of your company, including celebrations and milestones
- Continue to talk about these things throughout their entire first week and upcoming months
Explain the Employee Engagement Cycle
Devote some time to explain the employee engagement cycle – the ebb and flow of how engaged an employee is based on the amount of time they’ve been with a company. For example, when an employee is new, they’re generally fully engaged with their new job. As time goes on, it’s normal for engagement to dwindle, and an employee may no longer feel as enthusiastic as they did in the beginning. Employees at this point may go through a shock phase in which the newness of the experience has worn off, and they begin to notice elements of the company, job, people, or office they’re not crazy about. By educating new employees about the engagement cycle, you’ll give them a better idea of what to expect and help them adjust to their new workplace during the first six to 12 months.
“Our goal as human resource professionals and managers is to help them transition from the shock phase to the adjustment phase, and then to mastery,” says Campbell. “When they get to adjustment, things are starting to come together, and as things come together, they can see where their role in the organization fits. After a period of time, they go from adjustment to mastery when they are standing alone and contributing.”
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Provide the Training They Need
While the first day should focus heavily on engaging them, you should also schedule time with their manager for training, as well as time for them to bond. More technical training can take place throughout the remainder of the week. This includes working with their direct manager and other coworkers from their department, and covering:
- Expectations and what they should be doing down in the next week, month, and quarter
- Systems and other platforms (CRM, marketing automation, HR system, other company-specific resources) they will use to be successful in their new role
- Cross-departmental alignment, so they know which team members they must work with outside their department and proper channels for engaging with those individuals
Be an Ongoing Resource
Throughout your new hire’s first week, set up daily touch points to ask them how everything is going and answer their questions. At the end of their first full week, complete a deep dive into your new hire’s experiences to uncover any gaps in the onboarding experience. Ask them specifically if anything surprised them or what can be improved. After, be sure to:
- Let them know you are always available to schedule a time to talk
- Point them to other resources, like documents in your HR system or intranet, they can access if you’re not available
- Schedule time with their manager to get his/her perspective on the new employee’s onboarding and performance thus far
- Follow up with your new employee intermittently (one month, two months, three months)
If you’ve overlooked onboarding in the past, it’s time to reconsider. While properly onboarding a new hire may seem like a time-consuming task, you’ll thank yourself when that employee is still working for you five years down the road. A bad experience can lead to the exact opposite – a quick turnover, which is costly to you and the organization. By being prepared with a process that involves good engagement, training, resources, and touchpoints, your new hire is more likely to stay and celebrate work anniversaries for years to come!