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Blog
·
November 17, 2020
·
By
Michelle C.

The Ultimate Guide To Build An Employee Onboarding Program

Picture credits.

You’ve finally found the right person to fill the position and they’ve accepted the offer! The interviewing and screening process is over and all that lies ahead is the onboarding process. 

But... Welcoming a new employee isn’t merely about signing forms and having a quick orientation to introduce them to their new role and the company. Unfortunately, many companies neglect onboarding - a huge missed opportunity!

While it may be time consuming, a thoroughly thought onboarding program offers employers a chance to raise retention rates while reducing costly turnovers.The Society of Human Resources reported that 69% of employees were likely to stay with a company longer when they experienced a good onboarding program.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll learn why onboarding is important for employee retention and how you can develop an effective onboarding strategy that will help your new employees hit the ground running.

What is Onboarding and Why Does it Matter?

It can be easy to think of onboarding as just an orientation and the signing of various forms. Those are just the very beginning. To successfully create an onboarding program, you have to think of onboarding as a process.

During this process, a new hire is introduced to the brand, organisational values, team members, professional culture, and the tools they’ll need to do the job. Rather than a one-time meeting, onboarding can last months as the employee is acclimated to the position.

In general, onboarding covers the following: 

  • Job training
  • Employee handbook 
  • Paperwork 
  • Team introductions
  • Rules of conduct and policies
  • Tours of the facility
  • Industry specific training
  • Company benefits

As the new employee gets settled in and starts assimilating into the company, their success and progress should be carefully measured alongside frequent check-ins and feedback. 

Here’s why it matters.

Put yourself in the place of a new employee. After weeks of combing job boards, interviews and resume revisions, they’ve finally landed a new position. They’re excited to join the team. Then comes the onboarding process - paperwork, orientations, training, introductions. In the midst of all this, a new employee is likely to be stressed, nervous, and may struggle to connect with the rest of the team. 

The quality of your onboarding program plays an important role in the success of the new employee and whether they’ll continue on with the company.

A poor, frustrating program can cause you to lose talented employees. It can also cost you financially as you spend resources to start the cycle of hiring again. According to Employee Benefit News, it can cost up to 33% of a departing employee’s salary to replace that employee.

To retain today’s talent, the onboarding process is even more crucial to make employees feel at home especially when employee loyalty is no longer guaranteed. This applies for millennials where job hopping is common. 

To keep a new hire engaged, a company must use onboarding to shape their perception of the job. An employee that feels actively supported, welcomed by the team and knowledgeable about the upcoming job is less likely to second guess their decision in accepting the job. 

The onboarding process can be an effective way to improve employee retention and engagement. By having a process in place to integrate new hires into your organisation, you are able to:

1. Boost productivity and shorten learning times by having established team members assist new hires in getting up to speed

2. Educate employees about their role in the company and expectations about their performance

3. Assist employees in finding their place in the company

4. Reduce employee anxiety and stress by providing information and opportunities to build relationships

5. Help employees see their future in the company

First Impressions - Onboarding During the Recruitment Phase

Onboarding begins long before the employee starts their first day. As you recruit candidates, impressions are being formed about your company. 

1. Recruitment Stage

During the recruitment stage, candidates start getting their first glimpses into your company culture. Make a good first impression by:

  • Providing a realistic picture of their job description with defined responsibilities
  • Offer full attention to candidates during the interview
  • Be transparent about the hiring process and background checks

By following these steps, you will not only raise your chances of attracting the right people to the job, you’ll have less risk of an employee quitting due to disillusionment.


2. The Offer

When you’ve reached the offer stage, this is another time for your company’s personality to shine. The offer letter should include more than just basic information about the role and the salary:

  • Include a personalised welcome 
  • Imbue the letter with enthusiasm. When employees feel that they are genuinely wanted for the role, they come into the job with positivity. 

Developing a Comprehensive Onboarding Strategy

The onboarding process takes time. You are giving recruits the knowledge and tools they need to excel at their job. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding, the following steps are designed to serve as a guide to help you choose a strategy that works best for your employees, managers, and organisation as a whole.

1. Ask these key questions as you plan your strategy

  • What outcomes do you want for onboarding?
  • What impressions do you want employees to walk away with? 
  • How long should onboarding last (weeks, months, years)?
  • Who will be involved (HR, managers, team members)?
  • What are your goals for new employees?
  • How will you measure progress?

2. Pre-Boarding

If you were a new hire, would you want to spend time on your first day filling out paperwork? Exactly.

Sending out paperwork the day or week before and letting employees sign electronically can save the time of HR, payroll, trainers and the employee. Having a digital onboarding portal can be a great way to get new employees acquainted with the company before they start training.

3. The First Day

The first day is a crucial time. All the expectations should be laid out so that employee understands their role. The first day should involve:

  • Conducting formal meetings with HR
  • Share more about company culture, procedures, goals, and mission
  • Time to get to know key team members

4. The First Months - Continuous Development

To determine the success of your onboarding strategy, you’ll need to check in with employees to see how well they are adjusting. Even though an employee has been working at the company for a few months, there should still be on-going feedback, support, and reinforcement. 

  • Consider pairing new employees with a mentor or experienced co-worker
  • Monitor productivity and satisfaction
  • Hold meetings to address concerns as well as employee career goals
  • Ask for feedback or suggestions for improvement on the onboarding process


The Big Takeaway: By shifting the idea of onboarding away from a one-time event to a long-term process, your company will be able to create a system that will better prepare new hires to join your company while setting them on the path to success. 

Ineffective onboarding is responsible for employers losing 17% of new hires within the first 90 days. When done right, the onboarding process can lead to higher levels of productivity, job satisfaction, performance and retention. In short, onboarding is important to the success of the new employer-employee relationship.

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