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Critical Strategies for Onboarding

  • 4 Min Read

Why is your onboarding strategy so critical to your business?

In a competitive employment market, the onboarding of new hires has become a strategic priority for many enterprise organizations. Employers everywhere are now looking to up their game when welcoming a new employee into their organization and their culture.

Let’s face it. Hiring is an expensive business. According to gethired.com, the total cost of hiring an employee can range from $18,000 to $20,000.  Factor in associated new hire training costs and that up figure will rise even more.

Yet despite the time, money and effort organizations put into talent recruitment, companies continue to struggle with the issue of employee retention. More than 2 million Americans voluntarily leave their jobs every month and no less than 1/3 of people employed in their current job for less than 6 months are already job searching.

So how can a better onboarding process help employers do a better job of building strong bonds with new employees from day one?

Many companies still fail at onboarding because they regard it as an orientation effort. We need to acquaint new hires with our code of conduct, show them where the washrooms are located and pencils are kept, and familiarize them with our workplace safety policies. That’s necessary stuff. But people don’t fall in love with processes and policies.  Onboarding is about connecting the person to the company, to its people and to its culture and values.  Do it right, and your employees will leave the office each day believing they made the right decision in joining the team.

Looking to create the right first impression when new employees join your organization?  Here are some tips and strategies to consider when crafting your organization’s onboarding strategy.

Start Early

The onboarding effort actually begins from day zero – when an employee has signed their employment agreement.  In the US, the time between offer acceptance and first day of employment is typically two weeks. However, in other countries that transition can be as long as three months.  It’s in this in-between time that emotions can often get the best of a person. That individual is leaving a job with which they are familiar; to go somewhere they are not. Doubt can creep in.  So employers should take advantage of this time period to begin the welcoming process.  This might mean having a manager reach out to the new hire with a message of welcome and an offer to coordinate a team lunch on the first day. Or it may involve getting a new employee’s desk set up and ready to go for their first day.

Think Outside the Office

Creating a consistent onboarding process is about welcoming individuals into the company culture regardless of location.  Today, most companies have a global aspect and so the welcome received should be culturally and language appropriate.  It’s tricky to accomplish, but they shouldn’t feel like they are joining a “North American” company.

Often in today’s virtual workplace employees may spend their first day at work connecting in from their home office.  And yet, the welcome that person receives should be as warm and as personal as if they have moved into the office across the hall.  Technology can be a powerful delivery method allowing you to consistently welcome employees around the world into the company and introduce them to the culture. For instance, you can use short, simple videos provided through an LMS or online portal to provide every remote employee with a greeting of welcome from the warm voice and face of a colleague at HQ or around the globe.   You can also leverage technology to establish discussion forums where new hires can find each other and share information, to create checklists and toolkits for new hires to use. Online profile pages can also help new team members connect, providing a place where employees can share a photo of themselves, as well as their interests and hobbies.

Onboarding is for the Little Guys Too

A great onboarding process is about making employees feel wanted and accepted from day zero.  It’s also about building a relationship with that employee, so that on day two, week six, or month four – people continue to look for reasons to stay with the company.

Some might assume that an onboarding strategy belongs in a large organization – one with significant HR resources.  It does, but small organizations can effectively onboard as well. Onboarding at its core is about communicating who you are as a company, what you do, and why you are an awesome place to work.  Processes and content can be easily downsized for a small business or start up, as long as the onboarding strategy stays focused on building strong relationships.

Looking for some additional ways to welcome your new hires? Download the new enterprise eBook for an in-depth look at how to create an engaging learning model for your organization.

Stay tuned for my next post called “Top 3 Tips for Creating an Onboarding Program

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