When it comes to recruiting a new staff member, most organisations focus heavily on attracting and then selecting the best possible candidate for their team. A great deal of time and effort goes into selling the organisation, and then once a strong pool of candidates have applied for the role, the focus moves to interviewing, reference checking and finally making an offer of employment to the preferred candidate.
Once the preferred candidate has accepted the job offer, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, thinking that the hard part is over – and this is where most organisations fail. Getting the preferred candidate to put pen to paper is only the first hurdle, next comes another and possibly even bigger hurdle – keeping them!
Statistics show one in four people recruited will leave within the first six months, highlighting the need for organisations to have a robust onboarding process in place. Contrary to what most organisations may believe and practice, onboarding does not last a day, a week or even a month. The onboarding process starts before the employee’s first day ‘on the job’ and should last for six months.
Benefits to the Organisation
Many organisations have inadequate or ad-hoc onboarding processes which make them susceptible to low employee engagement and high employee turnover. By developing and successfully executing a robust onboarding process, organisations can benefit from:
With employee turnover costs estimated to be anywhere from 50% to 150% of an employee’s annual salary and estimates of the investment an organisation must make to get an employee to the point of determination of long term suitability to the business being approximately $100,000, it is evident that failing to onboard new employees correctly can cost organisations a great deal of time and money.
TIPS FOR A ROBUST ONBOARDING PROCESS
To guarantee the retention of quality employees, organisations need to ensure their onboarding process incorporates each of the following elements:
Begin onboarding at acceptance of offer
A successful onboarding process should begin before the new employee’s first ‘official’ day on the job. New employees can be involved in conversations and meetings before they join the organisation via technology (ie: email or Skype) or face-to-face meetings. This is particularly important for employees joining after a long notice period.
Encouraging involvement before day one helps keep new employees in the loop regarding business decisions, speeds up the assimilation process and reduces ‘first day’ anxiety.
Ensure you are prepared
Nothing could be worse for a new employee than turning up on the first day of a new job to find that they’ve been shoved in the corner of the office because the organisation is still “creating space” for them and that their computer “will be here in a few days” because the Office Administrator forgot to order it. Immediately, the new employee feels unvalued by the organisation.
Creating a good first impression is essential to keeping a new employee engaged; therefore organisations need to ensure that the new employee’s workstation, IT system, equipment and supplies are prepared and up and running prior to their start date.
Involve several people in the onboarding process
Onboarding should not be the sole responsibility of one team member, but rather a group effort. Different onboarding tasks should be undertaken by different team members, including administration staff, the new employee’s direct manager, senior management and a buddy or mentor (generally a peer). Each team member should know and understand their role within the onboarding process and should be committed to the process.
Involvement of different levels within the organisation again speeds up the assimilation process, and demonstrates that the organisation is committed to thorough training and development. However, organisations should keep in mind that it is important for the onboarding process to be consistent. All those involved in the process should communicate on a regular basis to ensure that information being provided is consistent.
Assign a buddy / mentor
A buddy or mentor should be assigned to the new team member from day one. Organisations should ensure they choose an appropriate buddy for the new employee – a buddy should be an experienced team member with strong knowledge of the organisation and the role which the new employee will be undertaking.
The buddy system helps to make the onboarding of a new employee smoother and quicker, helping the new employee to become more productive at a faster pace. In addition, the buddy system is a good way to transfer knowledge, develop new ideas and also helps to reduce any anxiety the new employee may have when starting the new role.
Spread out the onboarding process
Organisations need to resist the urge to bombard the new team member with copious amounts of information on their first day by sitting them at a workstation and asking them to read through your 50 page Company Policy Manual. This will have the new employee’s head spinning by lunchtime and it is highly unlikely they will retain much of this information. The new employee should be given these forms and policy documents at the start of their employment and then be allowed to read through them in their own time.
It is also a good idea for organisations to provide information about the company and the culture on an ongoing basis rather than through the traditional ‘classroom-style’ method. Managers should schedule regular meetings with the new employee to discuss the philosophy of the firm and spread these out over the first few weeks.
Touch base regularly
As a rule, the employee’s direct manager should be meeting with the new employee at the end of the first day, end of the first week, and end of the first, second, third and sixth months. Ensure that you schedule these meetings on the employee’s first day and stick to the program.
Managers can make these meetings effective by asking meaningful questions to gain insight into the onboarding process. Ask what is working well in the process, what needs attention, and whether the new employee is facing any issues within the company. In addition, managers should provide constructive feedback on how the employee is progressing and develop and review an action plan at each meeting.
Deal with any issues or concerns immediately
If the new employee voices any concerns during the onboarding process, organisations need to ensure these are dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner. If managers sweep problems under the carpet in the early stages it will likely result in further, more serious problems down the track. Such actions can also alert the new employee to a possible internal culture of avoidance and procrastination.
Any performance or behavioural issues identified during the onboarding process should also be dealt with immediately. Alerting the new employee to any gaps between their current performance and what is expected of them is a good opportunity to set expectations and allows the employee the opportunity to improve. This will ultimately lead to increased productivity and reduced turnover.
1 Roth, H. (2008). Staff Turnover Facts. Available at: http://www.lifeworksolutions.com.au/news/staff-turnover-facts/
2 Sork, Anthony. (2008). Induction & Attachment – Ensuring ROI For New Employees. Sork Human Capital Pty Ltd.
3 Boyd, Carolyn. (2011). Knowingly Oversold. HR Monthly, February 2011.
Add a Comment