Onboarding – Is your induction process fit for purpose?

Recruiting that perfect new employee can be costly in terms of time and money, so once you have chosen that perfect candidate it’s imperative you retain them!

A new employee’s ‘onboarding’ experience is a major factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to stay with an organisation. In her article Onboarding Is Critical, Patty Gaul, a writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD), notes that onboarding is the perfect opportunity to engage with new employees, ensuring they have the knowledge and confidence – both personally and in the organisation – to be successful in their role, together with ensuring they are made to feel welcome within the organisation and are not isolated as a new starter.

Gaul notes that a recent survey found 86 per cent of employees decide whether they will stay with an organisation within their first six months of joining, with 4 per cent even deciding on day one. This demonstrates that the onboarding process goes beyond the first impression and is a longer process of mentoring and supporting that new employee over a period of time.

Whilst Gaul focuses on the healthcare industry, the key points can be transferred to any organisation in any industry. Any onboarding should be supported from the top of the organisation and throughout. Gaps and weakness in the process should be identified and rectified. The onboarding process should not only prescribe how the job should be done, what the employee should wear and who is who in the organisation; it should also be transparent and help the employee understand the organisational culture.

Reasons that many organisations give for not having a robust and sustained onboarding process include costs and resistance to change, however, these negative attitudes can impact on employee retention, increasing recruitment costs and leaving employees feeling like they have joined an unprofessional organisation. This demonstrates that in the long run not only will a good onboarding process retain good employees, it will reduce recruitment costs. It will also result in business benefits such as improved customer service, with employee longevity and knowledge, engagement in business growth and development, together with improved brand reputation.

So here are a few tips to help you on your way with effective onboarding:

  • Ask your current employees to give you honest and open feedback about their experiences when joining your organisation. Ask them what could have been done differently or better.This will help you improve the experience of new employees. You may conclude an anonymous survey may provide better insights and honesty from your team.
  • There is often a period of time between the recruitment process and the first day in the job. During this period communicate with your new employee, ensuring they receive their contract and any other associated paperwork. This will help them feel valued, encouraging them to become an engaged employee. This will also help them feel part of the team from the word go, rather than day one being the first contact since their interview.
  • On day one make sure you create a welcoming experience and ensure the new employee has everything they need. It is crucial to plan for this. Ensure that all key personnel in the different departments are aware of their responsibilities and what is required of them. Create a checklist for what is required for your new employee and communicate it to these individuals: this may include HR, department managers and accounts. This ensures clarity of roles and remits for onboarding.
  • Create an induction checklist for day one. This will ensure you have covered all aspects required under the law and internal company policies and procedures.
  • Have a plan for the first six months and review it regularly.
  • Ensure you communicate with your new employee to reassure them of your commitment to them, provide them with feedback on their performance and integration into the organisation and ask for them feedback on their experience and how they are finding their role. Engagement is key.

Investing in effective onboarding will help your new recruits to settle into their role more quickly which will result in increased and improved performance, productivity and long term employee retention. A happy workforce is a productive workforce!