Design an Onboarding Process that Helps Increase Employee Retention

You may find it surprising that employee turnover is very common among new hires with 20% of them quitting within the first 45 days (source).

A company’s onboarding process is the building block of employee commitment because it correlates with engagement and retention. As stated in SHRM’s research entitled Onboarding New Employees: Maximising Success, “the faster the new hire feels welcome and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission”.

Rather than going through the hassle of hiring new talent multiple times, it makes more money sense to spend time refining the onboarding procedure.

The impact of a remarkable employee onboarding

Here’s a fact, you can’t expect a person to learn about your organisation’s structure, working culture as well as business goals thoroughly on their own. While the job interview serves as an introduction, it surely can’t build the employee-employer rapport instantly.

The onboarding process is not merely form-filling or office-touring, its main purpose is to walk the new hires through the company’s values and standard operating procedure (SOP), or the Four C’s:

  • Compliance: Explain to them about the employment policies and procedures.
  • Clarification: Walk them through their new responsibilities and the job expectations.
  • Culture: Familiarise them with the company’s practices inside and outside of the office, discuss their benefits as well as regular company events.
  • Connection: Introduce them to the whole team. Also, let them know who are the people in charge of certain areas within the organisation.

Giving your employees a clear vision of what awaits in their new endeavour will enable them to create a suitable personal growth plan.

Let’s look at this scenario: Tim is a new salesperson in Company A. He is not familiar with Company A’s product as he comes from a different industry. So Tim expected the manager to give him training about the product features and its values so that he can design his sales pitch more effectively. However, the company’s onboarding process only provided him with multiple forms to fill in and a list of internal and external phone numbers to take note of. Tim quickly realised that he had to learn everything on his own. After two months, he decided to quit as there was no further training given. He couldn’t find the connection with the team since everyone approached the sales strategies differently due to the lack of a standardised industry introduction.

From the example above, it is important to note that an effective onboarding process can also influence the new hire’s performance as soon as he or she starts working.

Having a new member joining your team will inevitably bring changes, either for better or worse, to the company. The onboarding program is essentially a two-way conversation where the new hires get to understand how the company works while the company gets to assess the newbies’ potential; and for both parties to figure out the best way to collaborate in the long run.

The ultimate onboarding checklist to increase employee retention

There cannot be a one-size-fits-all onboarding program for all organisations, but there is a solid formula that you can adapt to your HR playbook in order to make the most of your new hire’s first day.

Here’s the complete checklist to ensure a smooth onboarding process:

  • Inform the team about the new member’s commencement date ahead of time.
  • Designate a person in charge to conduct essential training.
  • Prepare the workspace, set up personal laptop or computer and configure the new employee’s work email.
  • Have a list of employee information details that you need to collect, on paper or stored electronically.
  • Create a presentation (if you don’t already have one) about your company background as well as the responsibilities of the position.
  • Organise a formal orientation day if there’s a group of new hires joining at once.
  • Establish individual goals and expectations.
  • Office tour and team lunch.

Now take the checklist beyond the conventional corporate scene and adopt the following practices to transform your onboarding process forever.

Go digital

As millennials are changing the future of work, companies have no choice but to change with them. Embracing technological applications in the workplace is the first step to attracting new talent as well as to increase employee retention. And you can start with digitalizing the onboarding process itself.

There are a plethora of apps that allow HR managers to get new members on board more efficiently, ranging from cloud-based employment records, online training to automating onboarding tasks. The benefits of technology in human resource management are evident in today’s employment scene.

Establish a “buddy system”

Don’t limit your new employee’s connection to his or her own team (or direct manager) when it comes to learning how things work around the company after the initial introduction. Why not assign a “buddy” to work with the new staff during their first few weeks instead?

Think of someone’s first day at work as a kid’s first day at school. Obviously, the kids are encouraged to make friend with their peers, rather than sticking to the teacher all the time. It is the same in the corporate world. You should create opportunities for all employees to share knowledge as well as suggestions to help each other grow.

A workplace buddy is someone who will help the new hire get familiar with the job and the environment around the office. This onboarding system also allows HR managers to observe individual teamwork competency in order to adjust the team structure (if necessary).

Let them speak

Traditionally, the new staff is required to sit through hour-long training and more often than not, they are not given the option to suggest improvements. If you want to develop engagement from day one, try asking for feedback on the company’s practices, whether it’s the onboarding process itself or any other area for that matter.

Because different people have unique ways to handle certain tasks, you should support your employees including the new staff’s willingness to share ideas too. While it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page, it’s even more crucial to welcome suggestions in order to move the company forward. By welcoming inputs from the newbies, you also shape an open culture in your team and win employee commitment at an early stage.

Don’t wait until your employees hand in the resignation letter to question (yourself) why. Engagement and retention should be initiated right from the day you make an offer, and the onboarding process is when you start building employee loyalty.

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