(This blog was originally published in February 2021 in the Business Bulletin)
Introducing new employees to your business is a key part of the hiring process, but one often overlooked. Once you’ve picked the right person, it’s easy to forget that they need a proper and thorough introduction to the company in order to be able to start work effectively. Onboarding should equip employees for their best possible performance right from the ‘off’, and there are ways to structure a programme of induction to help ensure all bases are covered.
What exactly IS Onboarding?
Onboarding is an HR term used to describe the introduction or induction programme into a business. An onboarding process includes every interaction with a new employee right through from issuing a job offer to them undergoing training, workplace socialisation, and starting work.
A typical onboarding programme could include regular check-in calls before the employee’s start date, mandatory training, job shadowing and/or social events with existing employees. Some roles require more onboarding than others, but every job should have a sufficient introduction to both the company, the team and the role.
Why should businesses have an Onboarding Programme?
All businesses should have thorough onboarding processes in order to welcome new employees to the workforce. There are numerous benefits to implementing proper induction. These include, but are by no means limited to:
Recruiting staff is pricy. Done properly, it needn’t be repeated.
Recruiting staff is always more expensive than retaining staff, so it needs to be done effectively in order to avoid having to recruit again! The average new hire costs a company £3,000, so unless you have a huge HR budget, it should be done only when really needed. Market research has shown that thorough onboarding can increase staff retention by up to 82%.
Proper onboarding avoids mistakes later on.
Onboarding staff ensuring they’re sufficiently trained to avoid mistakes further on in their career. Often errors made during work are as a result of a throwaway comment or miscommunication early on and can be prevented with thorough training immediately upon joining an organisation.
It helps to introduce and socialise staff.
Onboarding also helps to ‘gel’ the team together for a happy, healthy workplace culture. Introducing staff and allowing them to get to know each other organically and without the high-pressure situation of an urgent project or issue helps to build a cohesive working environment.
Engaged employees = more efficient employees.
Introducing an employee thoroughly to an organisation engages them and empowers them early on so that they feel bought in and invested into the business. This in turn is more likely to result in efficient and effective performance and a long employment period.
Common errors companies make with Onboarding
Onboarding processes are often similar between workplaces and industries, but in truth, few employers do them well. Only 12% of employers admit to having great induction practices for new starters. There are many errors businesses make in inducting new staff, and these are some of the most common ones:
Delivering out-of-date information.
Many employers have had the same onboarding procedures in place for years with little revision in place. Whilst the fundamentals of your company (values, objectives, branding) may not change regularly, it’s likely that industry associated relevant legislation, guidelines, and protocol do. Employees should always be kept up to date with the latest in good practice; as well as company expectation.
Duplicating Onboarding protocols across roles.
There is some information that all employees need to know, but different teams and disciplines will need specific training and data. Many businesses only offer a set onboarding programme for all staff and this is rarely appropriate.
Not spending enough time Onboarding.
Most organisations only have a week of Onboarding specified for new employees, and many only a day! Onboarding may take up to a month, or even longer, depending on requirements, and businesses can benefit from continuing new starter activity including check-ins, 1:1 meetings and cross-team socialising.
What should an Onboarding Programme include?
Every business is different, and so of course every onboarding programme is, too. However, even what may be considered to be the simplest of roles should incorporate a thorough onboarding process that ensures both employer and employee are well informed of requirements and expectations. The most successful induction programmes include:
Pre-start check-in calls.
If a new team member isn’t starting right away (which can be extremely rare in some sectors), it never hurts to call and check in once a week or fortnight before they start. This allows any further information or references to be gathered and gives the opportunity for any questions to be answered that may have been missed during the interview stage.
A new hire will only really ‘fit’ if they understand the workplace culture, and this isn’t all strictly business. Allowing for some non-work-focused socialisation time with the team will help engage and empower new starters as well as build relationships.
Most industries have some form of mandatory training to be completed, and this should be done during work hours as early after starting as possible (usually immediately). If this training is quite onerous, don’t be afraid to admit so – but remain honest about how long it takes and what expectations upon completing it are.
Cross-boarding refers to the onboarding process happening across teams. Facilitating new hires working with and getting to know other teams in the business gives a great overview of the working practices as a whole and easy visibility of roles, responsibilities and accountability areas. This can help improve understanding and build cross-team strategic relationships for more efficient working. Cross-boarding can also take place for hires made from internal roles and should help re-induct them into the position without redoing full company training.
The concept of ‘buddying’ can seem a little dated but when done correctly, the benefits can be vast. Buddying up an existing employee with a new hire who is not in their immediate reporting line or team allows for cross-team working, cohesion and trust to be built – and if the new starter needs help, advice or just a chat, they know where to go without having to impact on management resource.
Onboarding can be a long process, but it needn’t be a laborious one. The more comprehensive a company introduction is, the more efficient performance will be long-term; and that is always something worth investing in.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at my services to see how I can support you.