Opinion: Onboarding - Five tips to get the best out of your new hires

by 22 Aug 2014
Onboarding is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of bringing people into an organisation. Karen Evans shares her tips to engage new employees and ensure they stay with the business.

Recruiting is hard, but retaining talent is harder. According to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, 86% of new hires make their decision to leave or stay within the first six months in the job. This astounding statistic should be at the front of every HR manager’s mind when they make a new hire. I’ve seen some of our customers lead the way in developing effective ways to ensure a successful, long term hire. A well-developed onboarding program is a key part of this.  

Onboarding is, in a nutshell, a program ensuring that new employees are equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to become a valuable part of an organisation. It takes into account the professional, but just as importantly, the social aspects of beginning a new job. It begins before the employee’s first day, and can continue for as long as the organisation and the employee needs.

There are five things you should keep in mind when developing a successful onboarding program.

1. Proceed with a plan or strategy in place
A common mistake that managers make is to wait until problems arise, then deal with them accordingly. Many HR managers will teach the employee on a need-to-know basis. This is known as “onboarding on the go”. While this may seem like the easiest option, it means that an employee does not have comprehensive onboarding knowledge, and leads to a disruptive introduction to the company. Instead, develop and implement a clear strategy, and attempt to foresee any potential problems that may arise before the new hire starts.

2. Talk to existing employees
Ensure that you talk to existing employees regarding areas in which your onboarding system may be lacking. Nobody knows what is needed better than an employee who has been through the system, whether it’s the newest graduate, or a senior manager. It’s important to remember that onboarding is an end-to-end process.
To this end, speak to employees who have been through the system, and take their feedback on board. Ask open ended questions about areas for improvement, and try to implement this in your onboarding programs.

3. Pay attention to details as well as the big picture
Take the time to organise all aspects of the onboarding process prior to the new employee’s arrival, to ensure this is as streamlined as possible. While many HR managers may think of the wider programs, such as setting up of email, submission of forms, and quarterly reviews, it’s vital to focus on the things that may seem trivial. Does the employee know how to contact IT? Have they been formally introduced to their co-workers? While this may sound pedantic, your employee will be much happier if you cover all bases.

4. Have everything ready to go on the first day
Make sure that everything is ready for new employees when they start. Nothing is more disruptive for a new employee than stationary and paperwork to arrive in drips and drabs during their first few days. We recommend providing a “starter kit” for employees, with everything they need, such as computer log-in, stationary and paperwork. This then allows them to start personalising their workspace, and get up to speed as quickly as possible.

5. Use technology
Employers and HR managers should understand the value of technology during the onboarding process. This technology can range from internal communication, to automating contracts, documentation and payroll.

Many HR managers have daily headaches over paperwork and organisation of new employees’ details, when in reality, this can be easily automated and streamlined.

By integrating systems, information gathered from the recruitment phase can be transferred to other systems that are designed to handle the administrative aspects of onboarding. This eliminates the administrative burden for you, and lets you focus on the more important aspects of your job.

Technology also allows you to report on the success of your recruitment and onboarding process, as well as respond to any issues that may arise in the future.

So whether you’re dealing with one new employee a month, or dozens, a well-developed onboarding process will help ensure a low turnover and high satisfaction for all staff, all while saving you time, effort, and money.

About the author
Karen Evans is the Managing Director at NGA.NET, a world leader in cloud-based Talent Management solutions.
 

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