The HR saying about onboarding is that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. A successful onboarding process directly correlates with higher retention and employee productivity. According to Inc, up to 28% of employees quit within the first 90 days on the job due to poor onboarding.
Here are four onboarding tips and best practices from our onboarding specialists to make the best first impression with new hires.
1. Plan a process that lasts for months, not weeks
Onboarding is not the same as orientation. According to SHRM, onboarding is “a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.” So our first onboarding tip: plan an onboarding process that engages and supports employees beyond the 90-day mark. With that time frame in mind, managers can schedule monthly check-ins to track how well an employee is adapting and progressing. HR can set tasks and connect employees incrementally, easing new employees into the company and providing opportunities to network and meet coworkers over lunch and coffee breaks. While every business is different, the standard goals of onboarding remain quite similar—preparing employees for the role, ensuring they have everything they need to be productive, and orienting them with company culture.
2. Make the process repeatable
While onboarding new employees, automate the process as much as possible and design a process that can be repeated site-wide or per department. Establish which connections need to be made and what timelines and milestones you want employees to reach. Most importantly, document everything so that your HR team can fine-tune the onboarding process as you collect feedback from new hires.
3. Implement the buddy system
Starting something new is never easy. The simplest way to make new hires feel welcome, whether they’re coming into the office or working remotely, is to set them up with a “buddy.” In an office setting, onboarding buddies acquaint new hires by showing them around the office, introducing them to other employees, and acting as a support system for anything they need. Outside of the office, establishing a “virtual” onboarding buddy is just as important. There are a lot of questions that arise during a new hire’s first weeks. A buddy is a valuable resource for answering questions, making introductions, and showing new hires the lay of the land. HR can also give mentors/buddies some onboarding training to help them deliver the best experience to new employees.
4. Keep checking in
Don’t wait for the three-month mark to check in with new hires. The best way to ensure that your onboarding process benefits new hires is to check in with them regularly. Check-ins can come in stages to establish enough time for new hires to get settled and ensure new hires are progressing within the company. HR can conduct the first check-in either in-person or via video. Subsequent check-ins can be performed by managers or through questionaries. Assess how well a new hire understands their role and has adapted to their team.
As Inc details, “continued training help[s] employees contribute more to their business, and your employees will feel valued knowing you’re willing to invest in their growth on your team.” Regular check-ins are essential to deal with issues before they turn into a retention problem. Use check-ins to understand how new hires are progressing, what’s working for them, and what needs to be changed.
Better onboarding this way
The fundamentals of effective onboarding are the same, no matter the role or company. All new hires should feel welcomed, supported, understand their role and place within the company, and feel excited about what’s ahead. Employees should know which channels they can access to ask questions or find relevant information. The process should include opportunities for informal connections between new hires and seasoned employees—the last thing you want is for a new hire to feel isolated and alone. The experience should be as seamless as possible, with automated processes and workflows so that nothing gets left behind. Most importantly, keep checking in with employees to see how they’re doing and if the process can use any changes. Creating an excellent onboarding process requires trial and error, but the payoff in terms of employee experience is huge.