Let’s rewind a little and go back to how you landed at your current job. Think about the time you were waiting for an offer and how you felt when you finally got that opportunity.

How was your first day at work? Did you feel welcomed? Were you guided through every step of the process? How did you feel about the company? Well, the questions can go on, but the important fact is all of this forms the core of the onboarding experience.

The first few days at a new job are always special and equally crucial. That’s the time when a new employee works hard to get familiarized with the workplace and its culture.

As much as you evaluate your employees, they’re also evaluating you. From the offer up to the first day and after is the most pressing period for any new hire. But many organizations mistakenly think their job is done after the acceptance of the offer. In reality, a lot of employee turnover happens within the first 90 days of employment, and it costs between $3,000 and $18,000 to replace those who quit.

Why should you focus on employee onboarding?

In many organizations, especially in startups and small businesses, the focus lies on developing products and increasing growth. Finding top talent and investing in employee retention strategies often takes a backseat.

It’s important to remember that investing in employees means that you’re investing in your company’s future, and to capitalize on the skills, knowledge, and excitement your employees bring to the workplace is vital.

An SHRM study found that,

This clearly shows that employee onboarding affects an employee at various levels in their journey with an organization.

What does the onboarding process involve? 

Effective onboarding is not just a day’s process—it should expand over months, maybe through the probationary period and even beyond. Regardless, it should take as long as is needed until the new hire is completely ready to transition into an employee.

Every company in every industry has its unique experiences and different processes, but here’s a list of the common onboarding process to help you get started:

Now that you know the different stages of onboarding and its importance, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of it and look at six steps to prepare employees to work at your company.

1. Plan the experience you want to give

Like every industry or organization, each role in a company is also unique. You can’t expect a rookie, an experienced new hire, and a new manager to have the same onboarding experience. Their skills, expertise, experience, and knowledge differ at various levels, and so should your onboarding process.

A project manager could have a 90-day onboarding period with relevant training, whereas a less-technical role like a sales executive could take a shorter time to onboard. Craft your onboarding experience to the needs of every role and create a personalized experience.

2. Simplify the process

Communication is key. Making employees wait or communicating the wrong information can frustrate them and cause them to develop a negative attitude towards the company even before they join.

Establish a smooth process by collecting information about candidates and completing paperwork before their first day. Send documents to employees for e-signatures instead of requiring them to sign in person at the office. It cuts down on the chaos of first-day paperwork!

Consider using a self-service portal where new hires can register to receive information about training and workshops, welcome messages, or the first-day orientation. Portals can also enhance HR’s work of monitoring employees and keeping track of advancements within the onboarding period.

3. Establish your culture and policies

It’s important for employees to know about your organization—how was it built, its mission, its values, and what it stands for and against. When you emphasize the culture you uphold, it establishes the expected behavior of employees, including the way people work, their dress codes, or work flexibility. Remember, your employees are your brand ambassadors. The more time you spend on crafting and communicating your culture, the more talent you attract.

While culture training creates a positive vibe among your new hires, it’s also important for them to learn about leave policies, social media policies, code of ethics, and other IT service policies. Make sure employees have easy access to all your policies and important documents and channels to discuss the related questions.

4. Draft a mentorship program

Studies by the Academy of Management Journal found that if support levels are high during the first 90 days of employment, new hires exhibit a more positive attitude towards the job, work harder, and are more satisfied.

Assign each new hire a well-experienced employee to go to for support—preferably one in the same role so that work communication and progress tracking is done effectively. Creating a casual mentorship program will help employees feel comfortable with their job, learn the ins and outs under good guidance, and have a go-to person for anything they need.

5. Drive performance from day one

An employee’s early contributions to the company matter as much as later ones. Managers and mentors can explain how a new hire’s role fits into the big picture and what their work responsibilities are. They can set short-term goals for the 30, 60, or 90-day marks, analyze their performance, and give continuous feedback.

Setting employees on the right path from day one increases the productivity of new hires and helps them seamlessly integrate with the company. Also, a rewards and recognition program can encourage employees to continue performing well. Timely appreciation boosts confidence levels and inspires even harder work towards future goals.

6. Conduct training programs

A 2018 LinkedIn Learning study found that,

While showing your employees that you care about their future builds a positive mindset, it’s important to continuously upskill them to retain the same attitude.

Managers can analyze an employee’s skills and suggest relevant training programs. This way, you’ll be able to help employees develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and behavior that’ll make them effective contributors. Focusing on training and development of employees during the initial stages itself will help them seamlessly transition to continuous career development.

Onboarding—the first step to employee retention

While onboarding may seem to be just a small part of an employee’s journey, it’s far from that. A good, well-planned, and neatly executed onboarding process can have a direct effect on employee performance and retention.

As HR managers, you’re compelled to give your employees a great onboarding experience, regardless of changing trends and the disruption they might bring to your process. Choosing the right methods, crafting the right processes, and using the right technology will help you achieve the best outcomes.

Also, we have something interesting coming up soon, and we encourage you to watch this space for more information.

Happy onboarding! 

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