After all the hard work, time, and money expended to select the right candidate, nothing secures the return on your investment like a robust onboarding strategy. According to a report by The Society of Human Resources Management, 1 in 25 people leave a new job because of poor onboarding, and the costs can be far-reaching; lost productivity, ongoing recruiting costs, and potential damage to the employer brand are all the ill effects of a poorly executed onboarding strategy.
Notice I used the word “strategy,” and not “process.” Most companies, if you were to ask them, will tell you that they have an onboarding process, but dig a bit deeper and you’ll discover there isn’t much strategy involved past the management of the paperwork. The only way to protect your investment in your new hire is to create a connection from the very start, which is why onboarding should be a longer-term strategy rather than a checklist of paperwork and administrative details.
Let’s talk about the difference between an onboarding program and an onboarding strategy. An onboarding program does a good job of making sure that the basics are covered for a new hire: HR and corporate paperwork are completed, a workstation is secured, IT needs are fulfilled, and all general details of the first day are pretty much covered. If that’s as far as your onboarding goes, you might be coming up far short of what’s needed to connect this individual to your company correctly. Creating an onboarding strategy that goes further than that one day can reap rewards far past your original investment:
- All of the details germane to the first day in any onboarding process are still vital. Ensure all the paperwork is ready to sign, but create a welcome packet with branded materials that help convey the message of the company along with a warm personal welcome to all who will be connected with the new hire. Don’t leave them to sit aimlessly at their workstation their first day, unsure of where things are and who anyone may be. Help them get acclimatized. Doing so signals their value.
- Create opportunities throughout the first day through the first week or so to inculcate them into the corporate culture. Team lunches, coffee meetings, facilities visits, informal gatherings – all of this will help your new hire acclimate faster and will jump start their corporate connection for what we all hope is a long career. Make onboarding specific by function and goal past the larger set of overall corporate orientation so employees can connect more quickly to their division.
- Craft a 30/60/90-day plan that covers everything from onboarding meetings with colleagues and other functions to key performance milestones and expected deliverables. Take the uncertainty out of the equation, and create a roadmap for success.
- Provide a mentor for all new hires. The ability to ask a more seasoned employee questions when they’re unsure can be the difference between a long-term connection and a short-term seat filler. Create a program that involves responsible, kind, savvy employees connecting brand-new employees to the company’s mission, vision, and values. Not only does it make the learning curve faster, but it also connects the new hire with others and fosters better work relationships in the company.
- Focus on growth early in your new hire’s career with your company. One of the main reasons employees leave is a lack of career development. Start the conversation immediately about desired skills and experiences to move forward. It’s not only motivating, but it also demonstrates the company is committed to the long-term development of its people.
- Ensure consistent engagement. Managers who participate early with their new employees are likely to witness a higher level of productivity and engagement. Regular interaction helps familiarize a new employee with the protocols and processes, and it’s a great opportunity to give/receive feedback and resolve any issues or questions.
If it has been a while since you last looked at how you onboard new hires, now might be the perfect time to reassess. After all, why would you want to risk losing individuals in whom you invested so much effort to find?