An effective onboarding process can improve employee retention by as much as 82% while simultaneously providing a boost in productivity of over 70%. But despite that, 88% of organizations don’t do a good job with onboarding according to their own employees.
It’s hard to blame companies for not nailing a good onboarding approach because that’s a challenging task for any business. Employees want to feel welcome and have an easy transition into the new workplace, but it takes time to mesh with the team and understand the internal processes essential for success.
Luckily, there are onboarding process steps you can implement, no matter how big or small your company might be. These steps have been proven to work and are used by some of the most forward-thinking companies in the world.
To help you get started with employee onboarding, let’s define what it is, why it’s essential, and how you can improve performance using simple but highly effective onboarding process steps.
What is Employee Onboarding?
The most basic definition of employee onboarding is the process of getting an employee started in a new company. But while some of it does involve sorting out paperwork and ensuring that both the employee and the employer are covered legally, that just barely scratches the surface of what a truly good onboarding process should encompass.
Employee onboarding helps set the tone for how engaged the new employee will be, what types of relationships they’ll develop with colleagues, and how long they’ll want to stay at a company.
When you put in all the effort into attracting top talent, you need to ensure that they feel welcome and integrate into your company from day one. And that’s where a proven employee onboarding process is so important.
You need to match the expectations that the employee forms about working for your company, showing them how they will fit in and what their responsibilities will be. They must also know precisely how their days will look, what resources they’ll have access to, and what responsibilities they’ll have to cover.
Employee onboarding is like the initial greeting between the new hire and the people who represent your company. If that greeting is fun and positive, that can transform into a long-lasting relationship that everyone benefits from. But if it’s negative, it can also create a situation that will be very hard to fix in the future.
But how exactly do the onboarding process steps contribute to your company’s success? Let’s explore a few of the key reasons for its importance below.
Why is Employee Onboarding Important?
Employee onboarding is a long and complicated process that can sometimes take months to fully implement. But even though it can be complicated, the powerful benefits that come with providing your employees with a smooth transition into their new workplace are most definitely worth it.
Let’s look at a few benefits that a solid onboarding process comes with.
Keeps New Hires Engaged
After reaching an agreement with a candidate, there’s usually an initial excitement about joining your team and moving forward. That excitement is something that you as an employer should nurture, as it can translate into increased productivity and engagement that will provide more value for your company.
But for that initial excitement to be maintained, you need to have an onboarding process that reinforces that positive reputation the new hire has about your company through smooth, fun, and efficient first steps in the workplace.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having a massive impact on eCommerce and other industries, finding ways to effectively engage employees and new hires is one more important than ever. Many people had to work remotely, which caused unique challenges that need to be addressed during the onboarding stage.
You want to build a relationship with each employee so that they trust the company they work in, believe in the core values, and want to play a part in future success. If the employee genuinely cares about bringing success, they will produce better work, help you achieve more profits, and will be less likely to leave in the future.
Improves Work Productivity
Motivation is an essential factor that determines how productive an employee is on a day-to-day basis. But at the same time, you need to provide your employees with the right tools, support system, and framework if you want to put them in a position to succeed.
And when you have a reliable onboarding process, you can ensure that your employees become accustomed to their new workplace faster. You can guide them through the specifics of their role, how their colleagues approach different problems, and what type of assistance they can expect every step of the way.
When you help your employees get started on the right foot, they are much more likely to develop good habits that will ensure they are more productive and more focused on reaching their goals.
Helps Employees Feel Comfortable
As an employer, you need to think not just about the output your employees can produce but also whether they are happy to be working in your company. That’s the only way to ensure that the new hires are productive and willing to stay at your company in the long-term future.
But unfortunately, the fact that many companies don’t have a good onboarding system means that many new employees feel confused, overwhelmed, and even isolated during the first weeks and months at a new workplace.
Sure, some of them eventually find their groove on their own or with the help of their colleagues. But many others don’t ever find their place, which can result in otherwise ideal candidates leaving the job because of what they determine is a poor fit.
On the other hand, when you use a proven onboarding process, you can make employees feel welcome and part of the group from day one. And that can go a long way to making them happy and comfortable in the workplace.
Essential Employee Onboarding Steps
Each company will have to develop its own onboarding process based on the industry, company culture, and a variety of other factors. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t universal onboarding process steps that every company can use as a basic framework when designing the perfect onboarding experience.
Let’s look at seven key steps that every onboarding process should include.
Establish Key Points During the Recruitment Stage
One of the key points to understand about the onboarding process is that it doesn’t actually begin during the first day on the job. Instead, a good onboarding program should start during the recruitment stage, where you can set expectations and communicate the most critical points about the position, the company culture, and the things that will be expected from the employee.
By being transparent and informative during the initial stages, you will have a much easier time building on those core ideas as the onboarding process moves forward. You will also face less resistance and will be more confident that the employees will come in ready to deliver from the get-go.
Showcase Your Office Culture
Each office has a unique atmosphere and culture. And as many companies find out, sometimes a seemingly less qualified candidate might be a better fit because their personality traits or habits are more suitable for the type of work environment that has evolved in your company.
To increase the likelihood that a person will fit in with your team, you should try to provide them with a glimpse of how a typical day in the office might look. This way, they will gain at least a basic understanding of what to expect and be better prepared if they become full-time employees.
Maintain Contact During the Waiting Period
An employee will rarely start work immediately after being accepted for a position. Notices, waiting periods, and various formalities can mean that it might take a few weeks until they can actually get started.
But if you want to ensure continuity and build on that initial excitement of reaching an agreement, you should avoid any gaps in communication that might create a disconnect once the first day actually comes around.
Encourage managers and members of the team to reach out to their new members. They can introduce themselves, share relevant information, answer any questions, and provide overall feedback on how to better prepare for the first days and weeks at the office.
Create a Foolproof First-Day Onboarding Experience
The first day that a new employee comes in might be the most crucial part of the entire onboarding process. The type of experience you can create for new employees will leave a lasting impression, so you need to plan how the day will go and the main touchpoints you want to include.
The best approach is to make the first day more social and fun instead of focused on the actual work. It’s the best time to make introductions, show the new person around the office, provide them with everything they’ll need, and add in a few fun experiences that will set the right tone for the days that follow.
For instance, if you are going through customer support agent onboarding, you should introduce the new hires to the support practices in your company, to their superiors, to the ways that various issues can be addressed, and to the tools and software, they’ll need to use to be effective.
It’s rare that employees can work independently from other members of your team and still perform at their best. Therefore, a large part of a productive workplace is having a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere, and that’s something that you, as an employer, have to nurture and encourage.
Therefore, it’s good to use the initial days and weeks to schedule time for new hires to get to know their colleagues and superiors. You can help people develop personal connections that will translate into work and also introduce them to the processes for getting help, asking for feedback, or sharing information with others.
Listen to Feedback
The only way to improve your onboarding process steps is to continually work on them. And while you can accomplish a lot by following the best practices used by other companies, you can only get so far without getting feedback from the people that join your company.
As new employees begin settling into the company, it’s a good idea to encourage interviews, surveys, and questionnaires to provide insights about what you could improve or significant issues that you might not even be aware of.
Maintain Personal Contact Throughout the First Months
The companies that excel at employee onboarding don’t view employee onboarding as a process that takes days or even weeks. Instead, they treat it as an ongoing process, which should be supplemented and nurtured so that employees continually become more integrated within the company for as long as they work there.
You should schedule regular check-ins with employees to see how they are doing, whether the position meets their expectations, and if they would like anything to be improved, addressed, or solved.
You should also build stronger relationships between employees, organize team-building events, informal meetings, and offer various incentives for working together and exceeding expectations.
Employee onboarding is a complicated process that can’t be fine-tuned using cookie-cutter approaches. Your company is unique, and so are the challenges you are likely to face when trying to make new employees feel welcome and appreciated.
But the good news is that if you take the onboarding process steps one at a time and look at how you can make each part of the onboarding experience more effective, you will make gradual improvements that will result in big results over time.