Employee Onboarding

Why is Onboarding Important?

Effective onboarding has been proven to impact key organizational outcomes and positively influence organizational culture. Onboarding engages new hires and lays the groundwork for increased productivity and decreased turnover. With today’s workplaces moving faster than ever, new hires are expected to hit the ground running. To achieve positive business outcomes, we must understanding that new hires need more than “New Hire Orientation”- they’ve got to understand what it takes to succeed and be provided with the tools and information they need to be more productive right from the start. This is where the importance of onboarding best practices come into play.

A well designed onboarding program aims to: engage new employees early on, attract and retain top talent, and decrease turnover, among many other benefits.  When onboarding goes well it builds your business’ brand as an employer of choice, increases new hire productivity, reduces workers’ compensation, safety and auto claim incident rates and directly impacts your organizations success. Onboarding also increases employee retention, In fact, according to statistics compiled by SHRM), new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58 percent more likely to stay with an organization after three years.

Many small businesses think that having an new hire orientation means they don’t need onboarding or vice versa. Others may think that either their business size or industry doesn’t require all the “structure” or “HR stuff”- the reality is, whether your company’s onboarding approach is militantly planned and organized or as informal as a hand-shake and a “..the coffee pot is over there“, all new hires require some form of training and some form of acclimating. Whether it’s knowing where the bathroom is- or why they have to use red thread with the blue button– there is always a learning curve despite size or industry, or even position. The question is are you going to place your first line supervisors and managers to do all the heavy lifting, taking time away from their important job responsibilities?  I don’t know about you– but I’m a firm believer that to cut down a tree in five minutes, spend three minutes sharpening your axe.

Onboarding vs. Orientation, understanding the difference …and why you need both.

Onboarding is a term often misunderstood or confused with new employee orientation (NEO) (more commonly referred to as simply, “orientation”). The two are not interchangeable nor does one replace the other.

Orientation is a transactional event.

Orientation is a single event, which usually takes place during the first week (or sometimes the first day) of a new hires tenure, lasts for a few hours and often presented by the HR department. Orientation addresses the organization’s needs, general policies, procedures and provisions; HR compliance (completing paperwork) and providing general information and training.

Onboarding is a strategy.  

Onboarding is a continuous series of events and processes designed to focus on strengthening the employee’s connection to the company, focusing on employee’s needs. Unlike orientation, which occurs post-offer, onboarding can start even before the new hire’s first “official day” (known as pre and can progress through the first year of employment. Onboarding integrates multiple offices and individuals, including supervisory and senior leadership.

To help clarify, consider the differences in content: During onboarding you might explain your department’s “unspoken rules”, like how the outgoing packages are scheduled to be picked up twice a day, or that the team lead is responsible for logging all outgoing packages in the system. Whereas, during orientation, you would explain the company’s overall commitment to project turnaround time, fast shipping, and customer service satisfaction.

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Onboarding Best Practices

Get a head start. Think of onboarding like the Harvard Business Review does, offering that employers should consider onboarding as an integration, adding that the line between when the hiring process ends and the onboarding process begins should be blurred. Take the opportunity to engage your new hire as early on as possible, start the onboarding process the moment your new hire signs his or her job offer.

Be ready. Make sure your new employee(s) have what they need; and make sure IT knows.    Setting up workstations and company e-mail accounts in the network can take time.

Get Creative. Use gamification to inform new hires about the company products, policies and procedures.

Set expectations and be realistic. Set measurable, realistic and attainable goals for new hires as part of your onboarding program. But don’t forget to set them for your business as well! Expecting a new hire to reduce operating expenses within their first 30 days may be unrealistic and unmeasurable, but reducing office supply expenses by 15% within the first 90 days encourages productivity by providing clear and measurable goals.

Don’t get bogged down: Don’t allow your own perceptions about the size and industry of your business to prevent you from implementing an onboarding program–as your business grows so will this mentality and it will negatively affect your organization’s culture, long term.

What about your current employees? Get the rest of the team excited. Take the time to update your team about their new co-worker(s). Send out an announcement via email if you have various offices.

Check-in. Encourage engagement and reinforce connection by setting a check-in schedule. The check-ins could be staggered between quick (10-15 minute) in person meetings or use e-mail. Tip: Make the best use of this time by using pre-set questions created for specific job role or training goals.

Don’t forget to evaluate. Your efforts are only as good as your outcome. Measure the effectiveness of your onboarding program by surveying employees and gathering feedback.

Finally, Engage.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to successful onboarding, but remember engagement is key.

We will discuss the role of your organization’s culture and its varying effects on your organizations business outcomes in a later post. For now, we wanted to arm you with the key elements and importance of employee engagement through the onboarding process.

An onboarding program can go a long way towards growing your business and company culture. Want to learn more about building a customized onboarding program? Contact Us.

Thanks for reading!

The Alpha Claims HR Team

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