Unusually this year for many companies that may have already had a robust onboarding strategy in place, this could be the first time that the majority of new employees are being remotely onboarded, many of which may never have been into your offices or indeed may now be working from home on a permanent basis. So now more than ever is the time to assess what you are doing and look at ways in which you can streamline and improve the onboarding process. Recruiting the best candidates is just the beginning, welcoming new hires into the team is now a whole different ball game, it’s not uncommon still for candidates to go through a lengthy recruitment process only to not start a role due to lack of communication or leave a role a few weeks later due to a poor onboarding experience. We are now also dealing with remote work life balance, virtual team building , remote training and the element of trust that people are doing what they are meant to be doing. There is a lot to consider.
So where do you start?
Assess the Data
Where you are now, what is your turnover within a certain period of new hires joining you? Where do you want to be? Set some objectives of what you want to achieve, be it improve retention, engagement, productivity, time to competency. Why not start with a survey to the new hires that you have onboarded since Covid, this will highlight what has gone right and now with the changed landscape what you may need to rethink or improve. It will highlight trends and themes, strengths and weaknesses of the process, helping to formulate a new best practice. Why not survey the managers paying particular attention to those that have excellent retention rates within their team for onboarding and engagement, gaining insights into what they are doing well and equally those managers who have higher levels of attrition to see what they are doing or not doing that could be increasing those levels and analyse the themes and trends from that data. There could be some quick wins.
Successful onboarding starts well in advance of a new hire joining you, you want them to have already bought into your company’s culture and values so think about how you can reinforce those whilst waiting for the new hire to join you. Communication now is key, let them know that there is a plan in place and what it entails. Think about administrative matters in advance, setting up virtual workspace, logins and access to equipment to encourage new starters to integrate into their virtual surroundings as early as possible thus freeing up the first few days of their role enabling them to integrate quicker and start to build relationships with their new colleagues.
Onboarding is a chance to really channel the enthusiasm of a new hire, engage with the team and connect with the company’s culture and values. Quicker engagement leads to more embedded employee commitment and could ultimately be the deciding factor in whether they decide to stay or leave. This commitment will ensure they have bought in to what your company’s values and ethos are about that they are committed it . That’s why it’s vital to hold on to your talent in order to unlock people’s full potential.
Help them settle in as quickly as possible, give them a buddy, announce their arrival, make it personal; introduce them to their new team and colleagues, (maybe an online team meeting or welcome meeting). Make sure that they are familiar with their virtual workspace, virtual dress codes, lunch arrangements and social media policies. At this stage any guesswork and extra stress should be minimalised particularly as there is so much that is potentially different to being in the office. Set expectations and explain what they need to know before they need to know it, assuring new and existing employees that they are valued and have all the necessary tools to succeed. This clearly shows that you care about your employees and makes it less likely they will look elsewhere and eliminates the stress of starting a new role.
A new employee needs to get to grips with their role and understand how it relates to your company’s overall structure and the bigger picture. Have regular catch-ups , daily, weekly, monthly etc during the initial probation period to ensure they are on track and becoming competent in the role. These can then become less frequent as time progresses and expectations are met. Whilst it is important to let your new employee know you are accessible, in reality due to business needs you may not be available as much as they would like, in which case, many companies offer a buddy/mentor within the business that can help entrench new employees and ensure a good onboarding experience.
According to the CareerBuilder study, seven out of ten workers admit that they search for jobs as part of their “regular routine” and 35% are searching for a job within weeks of starting a new position. In essence, retention of staff for many companies is a key focus and by getting the onboarding process right you will help increase your retention rate and reduce your cost per hire. Turnover is expensive so it’s important to protect your recruitment investment with consistency, engagement and information, without being overwhelming. A report carried out by Oxford Economics revealed that replacing members of staff incurs costs of up to £30,614 per person for employers: and that’s without taking into account the risk to productivity and morale of your existing staff.
Set expectations, now more than ever with you unable to see what is happening within the workplace, it is vital that expectations and deliverables are agreed. Create goals that cultivate retention and from these create the metrics to help measure the success of your new hire, and your adjusted onboarding process. Start with measuring your six month and twelve-month retention rates of new hires and compare the results to when you had a Pre Covid onboarding process. The most important metrics to measuring success are usually employee engagement surveys, retention, and time to productivity. However you decide to do it, proper onboarding gets employees up to productive levels quicker and embedded within your company in a much more effective way.