A strong, well-designed onboarding program can benefit both new employees and your organization. Specifically, strategic onboarding can improve employee engagement, increase performance, lower turnover, and more.
The key is to build an onboarding program based on clear goals and to understand what onboarding is and isn’t.
Goals of Employee Onboarding
First, understand that onboarding goes far beyond orientation and training. Although HR forms, employee handbooks, and training manuals may be part of the process, those activities are only a small fraction of effective onboarding.
The purpose of an onboarding program is to help employees reach their full capabilities as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to design a program around these goals:
- Prepare new hires for their roles and responsibilities
- Immerse new employees in a team and the organization’s culture
- Encourage new hires to form joint partnerships with key people
- Instill a sense of belonging
- Help new hires navigate the organization to accomplish their work or their goals
- Show new hires how their work aligns with department and organizational goals
Note that new hires may have received other offers, or they may be deciding whether their new organization is a good fit. The average turnover of new hires within the first six months is approximately 31%; a good employee onboarding program can help reduce that number.
When to Start Onboarding
One good way to create an excellent first impression and to introduce new hires to the organization’s culture is to send a welcome packet and welcome email before they begin. Swag also creates a positive impression.
When a new hire arrives, make sure their workspace and technology are set up and ready.
On that first day, decide who will greet the new hire and how they will be welcomed. If on-site, a team lunch is a good start. If remote, consider emailing a gift certificate for a food delivery service and scheduling a virtual lunch, as well as introductory meetings and events.
Beyond initial orientation, the onboarding program should include collaboration between HR and the direct supervisor. Some elements should be consistent across the organization, such as information about company culture, events, and understanding the company goals and values. Other elements should be based on the new hire’s role. What are their objectives? Who are the key people who will help them get their work done? Those meetings should be set up.
Other critical onboarding activities include the following:
- Identify a peer member who can answer questions and help them to navigate the organization and to get work done.
- Recommend supervisory check-ins to discuss what’s going well and what could be better. Supervisors should identify any barriers preventing the new hire from accomplishing their work—and remove those barriers.
- Do a roles-and-responsibilities session with the supervisor, explaining that their role includes developing trust and helping the employee to accomplish their work.
- Conduct a regular HR check-in session for the first three months (every 2-3 weeks for the first couple of months, then monthly). Such sessions also allow HR to collect any suggestions for improving the onboarding program/process.
Metrics to Measure
The following four metrics can help gauge the effectiveness of an employee onboarding program and pinpoint opportunities to improve:
- Employee turnover trends in first six months. Establish a baseline. Then, as people go through the program, measure whether turnover for new hires is going down.
- New hire engagement, measured through engagement surveys.
- 90- or 180-day intermittent performance reviews so employees know how they’re doing.
- Surveys to gauge the effectiveness of the program to get recommendations for improvement.
Effective onboarding is critical for engaging new employees, maximizing their performance, and reducing turnover. The Lindenberger Group has helped organizations of all types design and manage onboarding programs that benefit both the new hires and the organization. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact the Lindenberger group at 609-730-1049 send us an email.