5 Real-World Strategies to Make the Onboarding Process Awesome

Only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their organization did a great job of onboarding them as a new hire, according to statistics gathered by Sapling HR. They also found that onboarding reduces employee turnover by 82%. So why are companies still spending an average of one week onboarding new hires with a heavy emphasis on processes and paperwork? Why don't organizations spend more time making their employees feel engaged, welcome, and set up for success? Here are 5 winning strategies to start your new hires off right. 

Welcome them to the family

aaron-burden-AvqpdLRjABs-unsplashWe don't need a statistic to prove that people like free stuff! Providing your new hires a welcome kit with company-branded swag is a great way to welcome new hires to your organization. Providing t-shirts, mugs, keychains, or other gifts with your company's logo serves a dual purpose: it makes the employee feel part of the company, and it provides you some free marketing when your new employee wears or uses the gifts you've given them.

An additional personal welcome from the team, either before or on the new hire's start date, is a great way to make them feel connected. Whether you send an email or use your company's messaging system to create a welcome thread, having the new hire's team send them kind words makes a great first impression.

COVID Bonus Tip: If you're onboarding virtually because of COVID-19, schedule a virtual coffee with your team and the new hire! Have your experienced employees plan one fun question each to pose to the whole group. It will not only make your new hire feel welcome, but they will also get some exposure to the technology your company uses. Additionally, it's a great team-building opportunity! 

Use consistency and structure

Inconsistent application is the biggest challenge for onboarding. If your organization does not have a way to measure the success of your onboarding program, if there is inconsistency in the process, or if you do not hold managers accountable for supporting onboarding, you are setting your company up to fail. Whoever is in charge of onboarding at the highest level (e.g., learning and development teams or the HR department) should monitor the overall process and keep track of any updates or changes that need to occur.

Onboarding should also be structured. It's unfair to sit a new hire in front of a computer for the first three days of the job, subjecting them to boring computer-based training or causing them to arrange and rearrange their supply drawer until it's time to go home. Create structure. Create milestones and objectives for the new hire to reach. With Verasana, managers can quickly see how their new hires are progressing through training, leaving them more time to discuss objectives and goals with their employee instead of finding out how the training is going.

Lengthen the process

Depending on the source, the "ideal" length of onboarding varies. HR professionals say onboarding should last three months, but research suggests onboarding is best when activities continue for the employee's first full year. Make sure managers check in with new employees weekly for that first year. Spread out training when you are able. Set up meetings with other employees from different departments so that the new hire can learn about what the other departments do and how they interact. Create cohorts of new hires who begin in the same month (or week for larger companies), and encourage them to meet up regularly. There are many activities that can make the employee feel integrated into the company's culture that can be spread through their first year. Most importantly, get new employees' feedback throughout their first year to ensure that your onboarding program is effective and meeting the intended objectives.

Use the buddy system

linkedin-sales-navigator-_4qmlxHbX6I-unsplashAccording to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, new hires who were paired with an onboarding buddy were 23% more satisfied with their onboarding experience after one week and 36% more satisfied with their onboarding experience after 90 days. According to Sapling HR, 87% of organizations who use a buddy system consider it an effective method for onboarding; however, only 47% of companies use this onboarding strategy. Quality buddies will be able to provide context to the new employee's role and will be able to share stories and ways they were able to become successful. It also reduces anxiety by giving the new hire someone to ask questions or even eat lunch with. Data shows that a buddy also results in a quicker time to productivity than new hires without a buddy. But this is also a win-win situation. Managers can designate the title of buddy to experienced associates who are looking for stretch opportunities to prove their leadership skills. 

COVID Bonus Tip: If your company uses team collaboration technology, create a unique and private space for the new hire and their buddy to exchange messages, pictures, and even important documents the buddy thinks will be helpful. This way, there is a central location to communicate, and the new hire won't ever feel like a nuisance reaching out. They can also use this virtual space to have video meetings if they can't meet up in real life.

Utilize preboarding

Because the onboarding process is so heavily reliant on filling out necessary paperwork, many companies have been encouraging preboarding. IBM offers learning and training to associates before their official start date, and they found that those who participated were 80% less likely to leave during their first year on the job. Preboarding can consist of paperwork, of familiarizing new hires with processes, or of teaching the new employees about the company's history and culture. It's important to note that some new hires may choose not to participate in preboarding and some companies may be wary of preboarding if they have hourly employees; however, successfully using preboarding can improve the overall employee onboarding process.

Our previous post mentions that losing one employee can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars. Making sure you have a solid, quality onboarding process in place can help to mitigate these costs. Verasana can help you launch your onboarding program and can help managers track the progress of new employees.