Onboarding, which is linked to employee retention, is the process of introducing new hires to the performance and social aspects of the job as efficiently, yet thoroughly, as possible. This should always be a top priority for HR departments because, according to the Impact Instruction Group, nearly 33% of new hires look for a different job within the first six months (that number is even higher among millennials).

Finding and keeping good employees is important. A high employee turnover rate negatively affects productivity, the workplace environment and company revenue. In fact, a CAP study found that the average cost to replace an employee is 20 percent of the annual salary for mid-range positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year). That number skyrockets to 213 percent when dealing with employees who make over $100,000 per year.

An important way employers and managers can combat these challenges is to revise and/or implement a solid employee onboarding program.

Orientation vs. Onboarding

Onboarding shouldn’t be confused with orientation as both have different end goals. An orientation process should last for a short time and include things such as signing paperwork, reviewing employee benefits, and meeting other staff. Onboarding should continue for a long period of time and offer necessary on the job training, career support, insight, and relationship building.

Creating a Quality Onboarding Program

Employers should invest sufficient time, thought and human resources into their onboarding program. According to a new BCG study, out of all the 22 HR practices, onboarding ranks second in terms of business impact.

Although the onboarding process can last up to a year, you can get more from your onboarding investment if you especially focus on the new employee within the first 90 days. Use the help of the Four C’s within the first few months to keep things clear, concise, and don’t forget, fun!

Compliance is the first step in the process and involves teaching the new employee the expectations, rules, and regulations for the organization. To help with efficiency, this can even begin before the employee’s first day of work by sending handbooks and select documents via mail or e-mail; this will ensure that their first day on the job won’t be largely consumed with basic material.

Clarification refers to ensuring that employees know their new job tasks and expectations. Knowing how their efforts will fit into the big picture will help them grasp their role and feel like a contributing member of the company. Remember to spread out material over the course of several weeks to prevent the new hire from feeling overwhelmed.

By using a goal alignment system, you can help keep new hires on track to success and ease the onboarding process. Goal alignment ensures that everyone is on the same page with goals, communication and organization. This is especially important within a larger company where keeping a steady flow can be more of a challenge. Without this, employees can lose sight of how their efforts contribute to the organization, causing disengagement and a loss of motivation which can aid in a higher rate of employee turnover.

Culture is a broad category that includes introducing employees to organizational norms that are both formal and informal. Creating an attractive and enjoyable company culture is something many organizations strive for and this culture might have actually attracted your new hire to the organization in the first place. A positive company culture will help employees stay engaged, feel welcome and feel that their work is valued.

Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish. If a new hire doesn’t feel connected, chances are they are going to leave. To promote great working relationships from the start, implement situations where the new employee can get familiar with everyone else. Even if they’re not in the same department, have them learn more about the work other employees do on a day-to-day basis. Successful organizations are teams that collaborate to accomplish common goals.

Onboarding Mistakes

  1. Don’t overwhelm an employee by trying to accomplish everything in one day. The first few weeks at a new job are stressful, so ease into all of the information required to perform the job effectively.
  2. Procrastination and unpreparedness are never okay. A new hire should be able to walk in and have their desk, computer and necessary paperwork available to them.
  3. Don’t skip over introductions as they will help with connection and employee retention.
  4. One size doesn’t fit all for every new hire. Remember that everyone’s personalities are different, which means they will all require different learning/management styles.
  5. Implementing an onboarding program alone isn’t ideal. This should be a collaborative effort among company owners, managers and supervisors.

Onboarding is a strategic management process which can make a positive difference when it comes to growing your business and improving company culture. It is important to streamline its efficiency, flexibility and consistency to gain the benefits of increased employee productivity, teamwork, and retention, as well as an improved company brand.