Why is Employee Onboarding so Important?



Jul 23

Insights on how businesses can provide a better onboarding experience for new hires.

As a former CEO with the ultimate responsibility for hiring around one hundred employees every year, it often takes months and months to find a great candidate to fill a key role in your team or organization. There is nothing more frustrating than finding that the person you choose doesn’t perform, or even worse, performs well but resigns within their first year. Yet this occurs all too regularly in organizations, and more often than not it is the fault of the organization, not the new hire. How and why is this so? Let me give you my view.

In my experience the ‘hiring to onboarding’ ratio of time allocated by managers is way out of whack. Much more time should be spent onboarding, however after a lengthy and potentially exhausting recruitment process, many hiring managers run out of energy to ensure the new hire has a great onboarding experience. Yet the research is clear that 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment (source: Bersin) and 33% of new hires look for a job within their first six months! (source: HBR) More often than not this is an outcome of poor onboarding.

Fortunately today’s technology can greatly assist managers to improve the onboarding experience. When combined with some good old fashion human touch elements, onboarding can become a powerful driver of individual, team and company performance.

Please find below some of my top tips for great onboarding.

  • Pre-start date – the onboarding experience should start no later than when the candidate accepts the role, as this is a key turning point for all involved. Before the future employee starts is a great time to communicate essential information, collect any necessary details from them, and to surprise and delight the new hire about working with you. Remember, in most cases the new hire will be leaving another employer, which can be a difficult time, so pre-start date activities are essential for validating the candidate’s decision about joining you and ensuring on day one that they already feel informed and engaged.
  • Day one – this is not the day to have the employee fill out forms and complete compliance requirements, rather this is the day for the new employee to connect with their new team and key stakeholders. I used to go out to lunch with new hires from across the organization on their first day as a symbol of how important they were to our organization’s success. Make sure they have a buddy assigned to them to show them the ropes and facilitate crucial connections with key stakeholders across and outside the company. I always encourage hiring managers to personally meet their new employees at reception and have a welcome gift sitting on their desk. This may be as simple as a personally written card welcoming them onboard.
  • Key milestones – Onboarding is at least a 3-6 month process. Although some new employees get up to speed quickly, many will take longer. I have found it helps to set up reminders to check-in with new hires at the following milestones: 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months. If these conversations are built into your regular performance conversations, make sure you allow sufficient time to discuss both the employee’s contribution as well as answering any questions the new employee may have about people, processes, practices and the culture of the broader company. An interesting alternative or addition to these conversations is to form new hire cohorts where they can share their experiences and learnings with each other.
  • Cultural/strategic integration – too often onboarding is about getting the new hires computer and security access set up, but onboarding is so much more. The entire process from before the employee starts to the end of the first year should enable the employee to deeply understand, and most importantly align, with the company’s culture and strategy. Not understanding how the organization works and not fitting in culturally are two of top three reasons for difficulty in taking on a new role, according to research by Egon Zehnder. Your onboarding process should spend as much time (if not more) on culture and strategic integration as it does on tactical items.

Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding

Many of these tips also apply to existing employees changing roles. Even though they have worked in your company before, they still need to be onboarded in their new role, especially if the role is in a different part of the organization or involves significant new relationships.

We at Flare believe that we can help you to give your new starters a really great first impression of your company.  Flare provides an intuitive cloud based platform accessible via computer or mobile device based on today’s best practice onboarding principles. Our onboarding process covers all the essentials; it creates an employee contract, collects all the employee data that they fill in only once, sends that data to the ATO, informs the new hire about important policies, gives the employee the chance to make an informed decision about their super fund, life insurance and more.  At the same time, we designed it to really help to get everyone emotionally engaged with your company and feel a great first touch of your Brand. This includes features like a welcome video where you can communicate your company vision, some personalized questions (like your favorite sports team, beverage & movies), a small symbolic gift (if you want to do so) and of course last but not least, an opportunity to say a few words to your new team.

One of the best things, and why I am so passionate about Flare, is that we not only provide state of the art onboarding software, but cover the entire employee lifecycle and provide leading class employee benefits. Oh and by the way Flare is totally free.

We trust these tips have been helpful and would value hearing your ideas about ensuring a great onboarding experience.

Jan Pacas, Managing Director – Flare

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