“1 in every 4 Australian employees leave their jobs in the first 12 months.”
Research conducted by PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) revealed that Australia came 11th in the list of developed countries whose staff leave their employment within a year, at 23%. The cost of this high staff turnover and poor employee retention was estimated at $3.6 billion in lost productivity. More so, for larger economies such as the USA, where $29.3 billion in productivity is lost.
How you ensure your organisation isn't just a temporary occupation for your employees?
The value of implementing a consistent employee onboarding processes
The employee onboarding process is an organised series of events for new employees that are comprised of different tasks and introductions to the company aided by different departments. It goes beyond the employee’s first week. Employee onboarding starts from the day the ad is placed and will ideally last until the first year of employment. It involves sourcing, selecting, orientating, assimilating and retaining employees.
Onboarding programs typically increase retention by 25% and can improve employee performance by 11%.
A company who implements a well-structured onboarding program, can expect 69% of employees to stay with the company for 3 years or more.
In fact, according to the survey, ineffective onboarding process influences employees’ reason to quit. This creates a need for companies to strengthen onboarding programs to be able to retain workers better, train fewer new employees and save money in the long run.
A well-structured onboarding program for new employees benefits you and your organisation by:
- Increasing employee productivity
- Increasing new employee’s satisfaction and happiness to be part of the organisation
- Saving the organisation money by reducing the need for basic training every time an employee leaves.
The employee onboarding process: Steps to success
The onboarding process varies from organisation to organisation, and employee to employee. There are, however, requirements that are key to creating a memorable and engaging first year for your employee.
Onboarding starts during recruitment
Onboarding begins when you put up the job ad, not the day the new employee starts.
During the recruiting phase, recruiters must communicate the realities of the role and the company, and ensure it aligns with what candidates expect once they begin working at the organisation.
To better onboard desired candidates, organisations could:
- Invite candidates to visit the office and spend team with key team members
- Have the candidate perform a specific task or short assessment required for the role
- Invite an existing employee to give a first-hand account of the process of starting the new job
- Use online professional networks such as LinkedIn to offer insights into company culture. Post interviews with existing employees, informal and formal events, videos from senior management and so on
A welcoming culture, with efficient processes can create a lasting and positive impact
Prior to the employee's first day, use automated systems (part of a larger digital workplace framework) to notify and coordinate relevant departments and tasks to support the new hire. This includes direct line managers, team members, HR, payroll, finance, governance, training, IT, facilities management, security and operations. Send notifications alerting IT to configure email access to emailing the new hire links to fill in additional details such as their emergency contact.
This ensures from day one new employees have access to all necessary information including corporate directory, organisational charts, login details to access various business applications and key contact information of relevant team members.
It is also important to start socialising and acclimating the new hire to the organisational culture from the very first day. Videos and other multimedia technology are a great and easily digestible ways to communicate high level information to employees including the company values, strategic goals and key members of the management team.
Outline learning objectives for new employees
Clearly set out the role and responsibilities for the employee. Then work together to create KPIs and milestones. It is imperative that employee expectations align with the organisations expectation of them! This will help motivate employees and gives them a strong sense of satisfaction when these KPIs are achieved. It also gives them a better understanding of how their work contributes to the department and strategic business goals.
Setting KPIs will also provide guidance on the best training and development opportunities to advance and broaden their skills. Remember, the most valuable employees in your organisation will crave knowledge and will not settle for falling behind from their peers in the industry. They will not hesitate to seek employment elsewhere if their needs are not being met.
Encourage managers to meet with employees after a few months to assess progress towards KPIs. This is a good opportunity to see how the employee is progressing and whether additional training and mentoring is required to close knowledge gaps.
Create an onboarding plan based on the individual employee’s character and needs
Employees will be from different age groups and backgrounds, have varied strengths, weaknesses, skill levels, and preferences for communication and work styles. The first week should be about getting to know new employees.
Do they need additional training for work systems or have they used these before? Do they prefer to learn via video, shadowing team members or reading? How do they like to be managed? What are their technology preferences?
Use this information to tailor the onboarding process to their individual needs. This will help them acclimate and become productive members of the organisation faster.
Keep the onboarding process planned and structured - Avoid information overload
Think about what the employee needs to know to get them up and running as soon as possible vs. what can introduced over time. To assist with this, create a checklist specific to the employee's onboarding process, broken out by first day, first month, three months, six months and one year.
You could also create a one-page cheat sheet outlining any takeaways you want the new employee to remember and/or answers to commonly asked questions
With digital platforms such as a Learning Management System (LMS) and intranet supporting your onboarding efforts, you could digitalise this cheat sheet and have a to-do task list outlining what needs to be done on the first day, first week, first month etc. to give employees realistic expectations of deadlines. This helps avoid future stress over when they need to learn information.
Go beyond technical training and resources
Every organisation knows they must provide new employees with technical training for specific business systems and applications. However, it shouldn't simply stop there. Training and resources can also be used to speed up an employee's knowledge and integration into the company culture.
You might offer training classes or videos on the company’s goals, visions, strengths, weaknesses and ethics. Some organisations also provide resources on specific language (specifically technical language), slang, acronyms and company terminology, to get new employees up to speed on nuances not often picked up until weeks into the role.
Resources can be given on the social nuances within the organisation such as relevant formal and informal work relationships and power structures. This helps them quickly form successful working relationship with other employees, and reduces wasted efforts in pursuing projects and answers from the wrong colleagues and departments.
Evaluate the onboarding plan
Plan it, implement it, be consistent and make sure you have supportive channels in place throughout the entire onboarding process.
Feedback, in particular from the employee, is central to understanding how well an employee is adapting, and whether they feel the onboarding process has been effective.
Survey employees at the end of the first week, three months, six months and one year, with the aim of understanding whether their expectations were met, and how engaged they are with the organisation.
Questions on whether they readily had access to information, technology, tools and training to perform their jobs, what they feel can be improved (particularly from a processes perspective) and what their strategic goals are (and whether this differs from agreed KPIs) is key. If employees are not being as productive as they should be, this will help you understand why (particularly if it relates to training and knowledge gaps). Then use this information to refine the onboarding process for each employee.
There is no doubt this will require a lot of resources (time and money), but the rewards will be worthwhile. You will be able to identify issues with employee dissatisfaction and engagement, giving you the opportunity to address it before a valuable employee feels the need to move on!
Using technology to help the onboarding process
Typically, it takes eight months for a new employee to reach full productivity. During this time managers are challenged with creating positive experiences and acclimating the new employee to the role, the organisation and fellow employees.
This is where technology can help; providing a more seamless onboarding processes.
An intranet is a great starting point for providing centralised access to relevant resources, for new (and existing) employees, as it is a self-service resource hub. Here is some intranet functionality and features that can help facilitate a smooth onboarding process.
- Personalised interface. You can personalise the employee’s homepage by adding a to-do list or checklist. It should link to all the key information the new employee needs to know, from organisational charts to employee handbooks. Other standard information to include on homepages include general organisational news and events, as well as links to various department sections such as their own department and the HR department.
- Easy access to documents and knowledge. Enable new employees to easily access the most-up-date documents, FAQs, knowledge centers, forms and other information online, regardless of location and device. This is more important than ever with more employees working more flexible hours, and from the office.
- Build social connections. One of the quickest ways to familiarise new employees with existing employees is to provide them with access to up-to-date organisational charts, social profiles and groups. Social profiles include photos, job titles, departments, expertise and personal interest, as well as contact details; offering richer information than a print out staff directory ever could.
Relying on an online staff directory ensures all employees have access to the latest contact details including information on new employees. This makes it easy for employees to quickly find and contact colleagues, particularly in organisations with a distributed workforce.
- Easy online learning. A good intranet will integrate to an online learning management solution, making it easier than ever to ensure newcomers are up to speed. Together, both solutions can act as a training manager for the new employee. Tracking programs can be tailored to the individual’s needs, enabling organisations to create personalised induction or orientation courses to introduce the job and organisation to new employees.
Related reading: [Blog post] How to Automate and Improve Business Processes Across Your Organisation
Employee Onboarding Best Practice Guide
We have released a best practice guide to help you master the onboarding process. You will get insights on what to include in your checklists, onboarding examples and setup, onboarding software to consider and insights to measure onboarding success. Get your free guide here.