What is Employee Onboarding?
Employee Onboarding is the process of introducing new employees to the organization’s environment and culture. However, the time taken to achieve that might vary from one organization to another.
A few organizations consider onboarding a one-day affair whereas others stretch it out for 18 months. However, for nearly all organizations, the employee onboarding process starts right after the offer letter is sent to a prospective employee.
Why Good Employee Onboarding Matters
It’s predicted that it can take between 8-12 months for new hires to be as proficient as their tenured colleagues.
New hires, no matter how skilled or experienced they are, will inevitably have an adjustment period.
In fact, it’s in that adjustment period that we see the most casualties with 31% of new hires leaving new positions within the first 3 months.
And as hiring teams, we don’t just want to be spinning the wheel and jumping from new hire to new hire.
Why? Because churn is costly.
It’s predicted that replacing a salaried employee costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a software developer making £72,000 a year (the UK average) that’s up to £54,000 in recruiting and training expenses alone.
When you have a particularly ‘high-value’ vacancy that needs filling, like a software developer, for example, a well thought out onboarding process will help avoid the churn of a costly vacancy. In fact, it’s predicted that…
Effective onboarding programs can increase retention by 25% and improve employee performance by 11%.
Employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with an organization for 3 years.
15% of employees said the lack of an effective onboarding program aided in their decision to quit.
Here’s how to develop an onboarding process that does much more than just show a new hire the ropes.
A Good Employee Onboarding Process
To combat the high levels of churn in the early stages of a new hire’s lifecycle, employers are investing serious resources into refining their onboarding processes.
Here’s a standard process to get you started:
Releasing The Offer
You’ve combed through countless resumes and cover letters, sat through hours and hours of interviews, and finally found the dream candidate you can’t wait to have on your team.
The first step is to release the offer. This is an incredibly important step that needs to be handled quickly and efficiently because your candidate will likely have other offers on the table.
With that in mind, you need to write an acceptance email that communicates important job details – including salary, benefits, work schedule, and important next steps.
Here are a few best practices for sending job offers:
Extend the Offer Verbally First
The best part of delivering good news is being able to witness (or hear) the reaction.
Before you hit send on what could sound like quite a functional email, pick up the phone and let your successful candidate know through voice.
This is an exciting time for both the job applicant and your company, and a verbal offer immediately starts a more personal relationship between the potential new hire and your company.
If the candidate expresses interest in this verbal offer, let them know that an official offer letter with more details will be arriving in their email inbox.
Include A Descriptive Subject Line
This isn’t a time for gimmicks.
If you’ve gone through the first step and told the candidate the good news over the phone then they’ll be expecting the email.
The subject line just needs to stand out and should include elements of the following:
Offer from [Company Name]
[Company Name] Job Offer
Your Offer from [Company Name]
Job Offer from [Company Name]
Attach Helpful Documents
Remember that for most, the release of an offer doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to accept. You have to assume they’ve got lots in the pipeline and you need to treat the offer email as a chance for you to help move your candidate towards a decision that is favourable to your business.
In fact, in some cases, they might not even have told their current employer that they’re leaving. This can trigger major anxiety as it can suddenly become very real for your candidate very quickly.
So if the candidate’s reaction to your phone call wasn’t exactly what you were expecting, start thinking about what you can do to help get them excited.
Here are a few helpful documents you can build and attach to release emails:
Resignation letter template
Counteroffer assessment support (Information on what a good counteroffer looks like and how to decline them)
Benefits Package Ebook
Beware of information overload here. You know the person you’re offering the role to. Assess what documents they need and only send them.
Send The Offer as an Attachment and In The Email Body
You want to cover all basis when it comes to the offer email.
That means sending the offer as an attachedandas copy in the body of the email.
Some candidates may not want to open attachments if they’re operating from a working domain, or might just have an email client that blocks attachments.
Either way, sending both options reduces the margin for error.
Great news. The candidate has accepted the role and is ready to join your company. But that doesn’t mean you should be relaxing.
What Should You Be Asking For?
If you’re working to a tight schedule and you need to get the new hire into the process as quickly as possible then it helps to ask what you need from your candidate next.
“Please respond in writing to this offer with a formal letter of acceptance.”
This prompt will get your new hire into the process quickly with HR and finance.
In an ideal world the package you offered in the first place to attract the candidate will be sufficient.
Realistically, however, negotiating at this stage isn’t rare and hiring managers should be ready to enter into negotiations as the candidate accepts the role on a conditional basis.
You want a motivated and excited new starter but you can’t have that come at the expense of the company. Assess the new hire against the following criteria to ensure you get the best possible deal:
Candidate desirability – If the candidate is a ‘must-have’, you may be a little more lenient in negotiations so that you can guarantee their employment.
Skills scarcity – If the skills and experience you are seeking are hard to find, you may need to compromise so you don’t have to restart the hiring process.
Market conditions – If the economic climate is hostile or the company is undergoing a transformation, compensation limits might be restricted.
Position – If the position you are trying to fill is a pivotal role, you want to fill it as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on the wider business.
Compensation limits – If the candidates desired salary is way above that of organisations salary ranges, you may need to reconsider.
Once both parties are happy with the arrangement and terms of employment it’s time to nurture your candidate as they enter notice in their current role.
For some hiring managers or HR teams this means they can move on to filling the next vacancy. For most, it signifies the start of a period of continued candidate engagement.
Here are a few quick and easy things hiring managers can do to keep a new starter exited through, what can sometimes be, long notice periods.
Get Your Candidates Involved on Social
The modern job-seeker is active on social and, as a result, will have already combed through your social as part of their decision-making process.
Regardless, you should still be extending invites to like or follow your company on social media.
Ask Your Candidates for a Glassdoor Review
An enormous amount of energy flows through this stage of the recruitment process.
You should be leveraging the energy of your candidate and give them the chance to share their experience on your companiesGlassdoorpage.
Invite Your Candidate To Welcome Drinks
Inviting your successful candidate out to meet the rest of the team out of a professional environment is a great way to break the ice and would go some way towards dispelling ‘first-day jitters’.
Get them into any internal comms
Do you have an internal newsletter? Maybe a slack channel that your team uses to communicate?
It’ll be a good idea to get new hires into those comms as soon as possible to ease them into life at your company.
I’d proceed with caution on this one and would reserve doing something like this for someone who is going to have a significant presence across your company. They’re less likely to churn and would want to hit the ground in terms of making a name for themselves at your company.
Work with HR, Finance and IT to Get New Hire Set-Up
There is nothing worse than arriving on your first day, already nervous, to sit waiting while technical issues get sorted.
First days should be about meeting new people, learning new things and more.
As soon as the new hire is accepted and formalised you should be working with the various departments around your company to ensure they’re ready to hit the ground running.
This ranges from ensuring their workstation is set up with all relevant software loaded, to filling their calendar up with the right meetings.
Give new hires a warm welcome on their first day at work to set the tone for a successful collaboration. Both your HR team and hiring manager should be well-prepared for your new hire’s arrival to make them feel comfortable and help them quickly adjust to their role.
You’ll want to:
Introduce the new hire to the team (if you haven’t already!)
Run arole-specific training. Train new hires on:
Their main responsibilities
The team structure (names, roles, duties and organizational chart)
The team’s objectives
Schedule meetings for your new hire with team leaders they will collaborate with.
Assign first tasks to your new hire. Make sure to:
Offer guidance, as needed
Provide resources that your new hire is likely to use (e.g. reports, spreadsheets and glossaries)
Clarify questions that may arise
Assign your new hire a work buddy to help them adjust to their new workplace.
Invite your new hire to a group lunch to help them get to know other employees.
Give your new hire an overview of the first week and the first month on the job.
Make sure to set aside time for new hires to ask any questions they might have.
Onboarding Process – The First step in Retention
Candidates are looking for so much more from their employers. For that reason, It’s shortsighted to think someone is ‘onboarded’ after their first day.
You need to see an ‘Onboarding Process’ as the first step in a ‘Employee Success/Retention Strategy’. This perspective shift necessitates a few extra steps in your onboarding process that focus on the long term success of your candidate.
Training / Orientation
On the one hand you have sub-par training that leaves a new hire feeling unprepared for the tasks waiting for them in the future.
On the other you have strict, highly regimented training can prove to be information overload and can take time away from other, arguably more important training and orientation aspects like meeting people around the business and learning through doing.
This is a classic Nature vs Nurture debate and, in education theory circles, emphasis has always been put onnurturing curiosity and building a positive environmentwhen developing well rounded individuals.
So, how much training is too much training? Obviously there will be some training that has to be performed, like core software etc, but not all learning exercises need to be structured in such a way.
Here are a few training methods that tread the line well, giving your new hire enough to spark their own intuition, curiosity and ensure they don’t feel unprepared for the tasks ahead.
A good book or an insightful article approaching a topic/issue close to the heart of your business really provokes thought.
In creative roles, this is often the way to get a new hires creative juices flowing.
You’re likely not expecting much output from your new hire in week one, so asking them to spend their time consolidating knowledge will pay you back in dividends in the future.
A step up from shadowing, role-playing is especially helpful for account and sales roles where your new hire will be speaking directly with customers and prospects.
They are becoming the face of your company, so take them out of their comfort zone, throw curve-balls, and give them an idea of the best—and worst—case scenarios that they could encounter.
As the probation period draws close and the meeting appears on the horizon, consider the following:
Break the Probation Ritual
We all know the deal. You join a company and you spend 6 months getting on with your job before you finally sit down to discuss your future.
It’s all a bit formulaic, isn’t it?
De-ritualising performance reviewswon’t just make your new hire feel significantly more comfortable when the actual probation meeting comes around, but it will also enable you as a hiring manager to iteratively improve on that new hire’s experience.
Regular performance discussions that are more conversational will completely take away the jitters.
Perform a Training Needs Analysis
A training needs analysisis the process a company goes on to determine what training needs to be undertaken by a team to do their job effectively and grow in their role.
A training needs analysis usually takes the form of a short questionnaire that asks the employee to assess how well they believe they perform in key areas of their job.
These questionnaires are normally done at the same time as personal reviews.
Performing one at the end of probation and as part of the onboarding process will lay the foundation for continued success in the future and prove to your new hire that you want them to succeed and are willing to invest in that success.
How Long Should Employee Onboarding Last?
According to BambooHR’s employee onboarding survey of over 1000 employed US workers, 31 percent of people have left a job within the first six months, with 68 percent of those departing within three months. For many new employees, it seems the first three months at an organization are the most precarious.
And for good reason – during that time the employee has to deal with a lot.
Extending the employee onboarding period to include those first 3 months seems like a no-brainer and the least an employer can do to ease these early jitters.
This extended onboarding period doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a full three months worth of tasks for the new employee, it just means you make more time for new hires during this period.
The Future of Employee Onboarding
Onboarding can be a long, tedious process. Hours spent on paperwork, going through monotonous orientation programs, and reviewing company policies don’t exactly spark excitement and motivation in new hires.
But with significant improvements in Virtual Reality (VR) training technology, some employee onboarding processes have taken on a completely different flavour.
For example, in 2017 Siemens began using a Virtual Realitytraining program to prepare future employees for high-risk work environments such as oil and gas rigs. The training simulates emergencies and error handling, but also covers the very concrete “daily business” on a platform.
The industrial manufacturing giant is one of several forward-looking companies who have taken the leap and are leveraging VR for HR. The transformative power of Virtual Reality is helping companies tap a variety of niches in human resources management.