3 Keys to a Successful Onboarding Process

January 30, 2020

Big things are on the line when a new employee walks through the door for their first day at work. Onboarding procedures can be a time for an HR department to shine. One study shows that proficient HR teams can contribute to up to 3.5 times more revenue growth. On the flip side, a recent Gallup poll showed that roughly one in 10 employees strongly agree that their organization does a good job of onboarding. The takeaway here is that administrative HR functions have a greater impact on a business’ success than you might presume, and that many people agree there is room for improvement in most organizations.

1. Onboarding begins before day 1

Most employers view onboarding as a series of tasks and paperwork for a new employee. These steps are critical. Agreements must be signed, handbooks distributed, and facility tours given as part of a quick orientation. That said, while these procedures are important, they don’t always capture the bigger picture of getting someone new up to speed.

The onboarding process actually begins when people start looking at job postings before they apply, and can extend through the first 12 months on the job. Most HR directors focus on the first day, week, or month on the clock. The actual time it takes a new employee to get on the same page with their colleagues may take substantially longer. The overall result of poor onboarding procedures affects turnover rates, training costs, and overall productivity.

Taking a more long-term approach to onboarding will help with employee retention. Plan for their first day at work in advance. Include time for a tour. Make sure all paperwork is covered. Schedule time with their manager or colleagues well in advance.

2. Build on a new employee’s talents

According to the Gallup article referenced above, only 12% of employees think their company does a good job onboarding new employees. Part of this shortcoming may be in how HR leaders view their new hire programs. Often, onboarding is seen as a time to indoctrinate new employees. Company culture, social frameworks, and many unwritten rules are communicated without asking much input back from the new employee. However, some business leaders are flipping that model in order to get more engagement from their new hires. A quick problem-solving exercise can be used to better understand the new employee’s decision-making process. Small group orientations with company leaders offer a comfortable environment for new workers to speak up and ask questions.

Show your new staff that there is a path for career development. Coordinate a quick priority meeting with a manager or department head within their first week. Talk through their current role, but also allow time to discuss their career goals.

Providing mentors or partners can also have a powerful impact on future success. Is there someone within the organization who can help answer questions? Is there someone available to provide guidance for someone in a new role? Sometimes, people have basic questions about unfamiliar environments. Introducing a mentor or partner program helps alleviate much of this anxiety.

3. Gather feedback & refine the process

Your onboarding process should be organized and flexible. If something isn’t working, update it.  Be receptive to input from other departments or leaders. Communicate effectively with other directors to improve policy.

Consider polling new employees six months after their first day. This provides an opportunity to gain valuable hindsight. What are things that either hindered or aided their success? What do they wish they had known on day one? An effective survey should be quick and easy for your busy employees to complete. Try to keep it to 10 or fewer questions. And, make sure it won’t take more than a few minutes to complete.   

We can help

Employers that offer professional development opportunities, hire internally, carefully cultivate their company culture, and layer accountability through training often find themselves in a position to build on past success with an eye toward the future. Management training and succession planning can benefit an organization for many years to come. Our experienced team of HR professionals can help managers unlock the hidden potential for staff in surprising ways. At SourcePointe, we utilize our industry experience to provide you with a multitude of customizable HR services, support, and solutions. All so your business can do one thing – more business. We’ll provide tailor-made solutions that fit your company’s needs while providing a solid return on your investment that pays off immediately – and for many years after that.

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