For many companies, especially growing organizations, the task of recruiting and selecting new staff is so all-consuming that too little attention is paid to the final, crucial part of the hiring equation: namely, everything that happens after the employment offer is made and accepted. If your business is not pursuing a strategic and measurable approach to onboard new employees and engage them in your mission, then your hiring process cannot be considered complete, and you may be needlessly losing talent and money along the way.
Research suggests that the first 90 days of employment are critical, with one report suggesting that 28 percent of employees would consider quitting within the first 90 days if they were not happy. And according to an often-cited report from the research firm Aberdeen Group, more than 90 percent of businesses believe their employees make a critical decision to stay or leave within the first year – and yet only 32 percent of organizations surveyed in 2014 had a formal onboarding process in place.
Given the significant costs involved in hiring and training new employees, it only makes sense to invest in their ultimate success. To establish an effective onboarding program, there are some key elements that your company should consider, including the following:
An Early Start
The formal onboarding process should begin before the new employee’s first day. By giving new hires deeper access to your organization before they walk through the doors, including details about your mission, values and workplace culture, you can jump start the transition. Consider creating an online portal for new employees that includes detailed information about your company and its employees, including first person stories from current employees about what it is like to work for your organization. Some organizations allow new hires to interact online directly with existing employees before they start, allowing them to ask questions and learn about workplace culture. You may consider creating an archive of videos about your company, including video tours of your office, a video portrait of a typical day, and profiles of employees. As Aberdeen Group notes, “pre-boarding” is a concept embraced by top companies today.
A Strong First Month and Beyond
The first day of a new employee’s experience with your organization is important, but it is certainly not the only day that matters. A successful onboarding program will include set, organized activities and information for the first day of work, but will extend well beyond this.
Beginning on day one of work, the onboarding program should involve a variety of elements. Of course, the process will include all of the necessary forms that an employee needs to complete (preferably online), but it is important not to overwhelm the new employee with too much paperwork or information at one time. The first day should include the introduction of information that is both useful, fun and engaging. At DHL, for instance, we have created an onboarding tool called “DHL in a Box,”, a kit that is sent to new employee before their first days and includes booklets, a video and a personal welcome card signed by the hiring manager. Many managers use this as an opportunity to introduce the new employee to their new team. The goal is to make the new team members feel welcome and excited about their new journey. Training and required form completion should be staggered through the employee’s first weeks, along with opportunities to ask questions, secure feedback and socialize.
Regular Feedback and Engagement
Many companies set a program of regular check-ins with new employees at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days. The goal of these set events is to ensure that your new employees are satisfied and engaged, and that they feel comfortable with their work and the culture of the workplace. Employees should be encouraged from day one to ask questions and provide feedback on their progress at any time with their managers, but the regular check-ins are critical to keep both managers and employees on track. During the check-ins, remind the employee about the great benefits that your organization offers; although you may have already told them on their first couple of days, it’s important reinforce all of your offerings and perks.
Mentor and Buddy Programs
One of the best ways to make new employees feel welcome and valued is to match them with an existing employee who can serve as a mentor or buddy and help them through their first months on the job. The mentor might take them to lunch on their first day or during their first week, be available to answer questions, and introduce them to other co-workers. This process provides ample opportunity for new employees to understand the culture and etiquette of the workplace.
In the end, your organization’s onboarding strategy should be as well thought-out as your recruitment and hiring programs. Only by understanding, engaging and supporting your new employees from day one – and even before – can make your hiring decisions match your original expectations, and your investment of time and resources.
What is your business doing to support new employees during the onboarding process? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.