Successful Onboarding in a Nutshell!

Published on 20-06-2017

First impressions count when it comes to long-term employment. It all starts with successful Onboarding which is about much more than a quick tour through the office. Especially the corporate culture and social interaction within an organisation matter for the successful integration of a new hire. The question is: What does a successful Onboarding process actually look like?

Onboarding in a Nutshell

Onboarding is an extremely complex process which is why we are discussing the most important facts and strategies in today’s blog post.

  • The definition of Onboarding
  • The effects of poor Onboarding
  • 3 steps to a successful Onboarding strategy

The definition of Onboarding

Onboarding stands for the systematic integration of newly hired employees into an organisation. The first six months in particular are vital for the Onboarding process. According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group is this the period in which new employees decide whether they want to remain with the organisation or leave again. The Onboarding process itself should not only focus on the technical aspects but also on the social integration of new hires. Explaining a company’s culture, values and mission is just as important as responsibilities, work schedules and other policies. The importance of developing social contacts within an organisation should not be underestimated either.

The effects of poor Onboarding 

The importance of successful Onboarding is indisputable. A recent CareerBuilder survey, however, shows that the actual Onboarding process of many companies is still in need of optimisation. Out of 2,300 questioned HR professionals and hiring managers from different industries and company sizes in the private sector, 36% of the interviewees indicated that their company’s Onboarding process is not well structured.

The negative effects of a poor Onboarding process are diverse:

  • 16% HR manager note a decrease in productivity
  • 14% of the interviewees recognise lacking efficiency
  • 12% believe that it raises the chances of employee fluctuation

On top of that many managers note a sinking employee morale as well as disengagement. Trust in managers and the employer also reduces drastically.

The study shows that successful Onboarding is important to new employees and for the success of the whole organisation. Integrating technology and automatisation of procedures would be a first step in the right direction. A study carried out by the Haufe Group shows that only 12% of the questioned companies use Onboarding software. Furthermore, the previously mentioned CareerBuilder survey indicates that more than 40% of the questioned HR managers, who do not process their Onboarding information electronically, spend at least 3 or more hours collecting and evaluating the data, 16% even spend 5 or more hours which in return can lead to increasing stress levels for hiring managers due to time pressure and additional avoidable workloads. Furthermore missing or unprocessed information can lead to delays in the actual recruitment process. These delays can leave a negative impression with candidates and perhaps make them leave a company soon afterwards.

3 steps to successful onboarding

3 steps to a successful Onboarding Strategy

Recent research reveals that 84% of the questioned HR professionals see room for improvement during their current Onboarding process. But how exactly can we improve our Onboarding strategy?

Supporting and strengthening an employee’s engagement is an important part of a successful Onboarding process. Motivated employees are more productive, more efficient and more loyal to a company. As so often, a company’s culture plays a crucial role during this process.

To make it even clearer we divided the process into three phases:

  • Pre-Onboarding activities
  • The first working day and week
  • Integration

Pre-Onboarding activities
The Haufe Group study showed that 26% of the questioned companies received a letter of refusal in the period between signing contracts and the first working day. To avoid this initial fluctuation companies should already start building relationships with new employees before their actual first working day.

Good examples for pre-Onboarding activities are Onboarding platforms on the internet or Onboarding apps but also ‘welcome packages’ or sending out specific schedules for the first working day.

The first working day and week
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a new employee for a moment: For him or her a new chapter in life begins with a new challenge, new colleagues and new rules. On top of that there is the pressure of proving your capabilities to your new employer. Truly nerve-racking!

That is exactly why we should try to make the first day experience as relaxed and positive as possible. After all, the goal is to make the new employee feel welcome!

Ideally the first briefing as well as the office tour should be conducted by the immediate line manager. New employees should straightaway be introduced to their a wider range of colleagues, involving everybody they could possibly deal with in the future. After all, there is nothing worse than the team having no time for the “new guy” as it instantly impacts efficiency and productivity levels.  Preparing for the first working day is the alpha and omega, that goes for both sides!

Many companies still consider an attempt at social integration during the Onboarding process to be sufficient. Social integration cannot really be done on demand which is why the concept of ‘mentorship’ is highly relevant. Mentors of new employees can, for example, answer arising questions or take a new employee for lunch to meet other colleagues.  The advantages of such a strategy are obvious: A new employee does not get the feeling of being left out but is being integrated into the corporate culture by someone who actually identifies with it.

Another inevitable aspect of a successful Onboarding process is feedback. An open feedback culture is important and shows the new employee that opinions are valued. It also allows for any issues to be understood as soon as possible and dealt with more swiftly.

Successful Onboarding – Still some way to go

The results of different surveys show that HR professionals realise there is still some way to go improving employee Onboarding processes. Unclear structures as well as the lack of standardisation or technology are only a few factors which play a role in this and could be optimised. Also, the integration of new employees into a company’s culture is often secondary. However taking a step in the right direction does not always have to include major strategy changes. A simple gesture, for example inviting a new colleague to join the daily coffee break, can already make a difference!

An inadequate Onboarding process is one of many reasons why newly hired employees might leave a company after a short period of time.

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