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A solid onboarding process helps keep new employees enthused about their new employer, while a poor one could send them packing, consultants say.
“It helps with retention, because when they have that type of consistent experience, they are more likely to stay with the organization,” Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of the Los Angeles-based consultancy Interchange Group, told Bloomberg BNA May 19. That’s significant because studies show that new employees decide unconsciously whether to stay on at their new employer within the first six months, she said.
And yet, more than one-third of employers (36 percent) don’t have a “structured” onboarding process, Chicago-based jobs website CareerBuilder said May 11, reporting on a survey that it commissioned Harris Poll to undertake Feb. 16 to March 9.
Some 41 percent of those employers without a structured onboarding process reported that lack was causing them problems, such as lower productivity, more inefficiency, higher employee turnover, poor morale, a lower level of employee engagement, and lower employee confidence. The survey was conducted among 2,380 hiring and human resources managers.
Those problems aren’t too surprising. “Companies that lack a checklist or formal onboarding process may overlook details along the way,” Brandi Britton, district president of Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm OfficeTeam, told Bloomberg BNA in a May 19 email. “In fact, according to an OfficeTeam survey, more than half (54 percent) of workers said they’ve experienced at least one mishap when starting a new job. As a new employee, you want everything to run smoothly. A shaky start can cause you to question if the company has its act together.”
On the flip side, “when done well, onboarding increases respect for management and the company as a whole,” Robinson said. Given how often management has to order changes in today’s rapidly evolving business climate, it’s important to earn employees’ trust early on, she said.
Britton agreed that the early days are crucial. “The first few weeks at a company are when new employees establish attitudes about the position, coworkers, management and the organization itself. Workers who are properly welcomed and trained from day one not only feel comfortable and can actively contribute immediately, but they’re also generally more enthusiastic and committed to the job.”
Properly onboarded employees are more productive, Robinson said, and to ensure that, it helps to “get new employees involved in meaningful work from the very beginning. It sort of validates their decision to come and work for you.”
She also recommended that employers go about onboarding “with intention,” setting up structures to manage the new employee’s initial period and using the new-employee orientation sessions so that they aren’t “death by PowerPoint and talking head” but feature discussions of company strategy.
Orientation sessions should cover the essentials, Britton said, “including the company’s mission statement, structure, employee handbook, security, and benefits. “
“The initial days of onboarding should also include introductions, an office tour, training, and setting up the individual with a buddy or mentor,” she said. A get-to-know-you lunch is also a good idea, she said, and “the manager should stock the worker’s desk with the necessary supplies, arrange security access, and set up computer and phone functionality” beforehand.
Additionally, “one of the most important steps is setting expectations with the employee early on by discussing the position’s goals and responsibilities,” Britton said.
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