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The pandemic may have reshaped the world of work, but some truths remain such as the importance of first impressions, and onboarding is your company’s first real impression to the new hire.

While much thought is put into the hiring process, what happens after the job offer is made is vital as the first few days and weeks of a new employee’s experience can not only set the tone for their satisfaction with the company, but can enhance employee retention, productivity, and overall success.

“While “talent acquisition” strategies tend to emphasize acquiring talent, extending an offer letter doesn’t equal the finish line for HR practitioners,” said The SHRM Blog in June 2023. “HR practitioners need to account for all of the things that happen after an offer is extended – from communicating with new hires prior to their start date to ensuring that the onboarding process runs efficiently.”

In the ever-evolving U.S. job market, where remote work and flexible arrangements have become the norm and job applicants have become more selective, effective onboarding has gained even more significance.

“When it comes to onboarding, the numbers don’t lie. More than 20 percent of new employees leave a company within one year due to poor onboarding,” said The SHRM Blog. “The onboarding process should give new hires a clear understanding of their role, performance expectations, and company culture.”

The Basics of Onboarding

Onboarding is what comes after the job offer – it’s the process of introducing a new employee to your organization.

The essential steps in onboarding should include:

  • Orientation: Introduce the company’s culture, values, goals, mission, and policies.
  • Paperwork and Documentation: Complete all necessary legal paperwork, including tax forms, contracts, and benefits enrollment.
  • Login and Access: Provide the employee with their login credentials and access to the tools they will need to do their job.
  • Training: Equip the new employee with the skills and knowledge required for their role. Do not forget to acquaint the employee with all the internal systems they will need to navigate.
  • Introduction to the Team: Foster connections by introducing the new employee to their colleagues and team members.
  • Setting Expectations: Clearly communicate job responsibilities, goals, and performance expectations.

An ideal onboarding experience can set the foundation for a new employee’s successful transition, engagement, and productivity within the company.

“An effective employee onboarding process is both comprehensive and efficient and should not only handle the necessary legal paperwork but also help to painlessly acclimate a new team member to a workplace community,” write Chuancey Crail and Rob Watts in Forbes.

Remote Onboarding vs. In-Office Onboarding

By now, new hires and managers are becoming acclimated to the realities of remote recruitment and onboarding as some organizations continue to fill positions with talent not located in their immediate area.

Remote onboarding differs significantly from the traditional in-person process, especially when it’s fully digital. Key differences include:

  • Technology and Tools: Ensure new hires have the necessary technology, access, and training to work remotely effectively.
  • Communication: Establish clear channels for remote communication and collaboration, such as video conferencing and messaging apps.
  • Engagement: Use virtual team-building activities and regular check-ins to build rapport and prevent isolation.
  • Documentation: Digitize paperwork and provide easy access to online resources for self-guided learning.

What aspect to not overlook is the training of managers on what to expect of them in the digital onboarding of new hires.

Why Onboarding is Important

Onboarding is incredibly important, yet some studies have found that 88 percent of businesses do not provide a good onboarding experience for their new employees.

“Equipping new hires with the tools, resources, and relationships they need to successfully navigate the company can boost confidence, help them contribute to the organization sooner, and make them more likely to commit to the company,” says The SHRM Blog.

When onboarding is done poorly, both the company and the employee can suffer:

  • High Turnover: Inadequate onboarding often leads to early employee departures, increasing recruitment costs.
  • Decreased Productivity: New employees may struggle to perform their roles effectively without proper training and guidance.
  • Disengagement: Poor onboarding can result in disengaged employees who lack a sense of belonging.
  • Cultural Misalignment: Failure to convey company culture and values can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Missed Opportunities: New hires might not reach their full potential, depriving the organization of their talents.

“If you don’t properly onboard your new hires, they will feel anxious, stressed, and unsettled at their job every day. This reduces their productivity and brings down morale,” says the Canadian Professional Sales Association.

Best Practices for Onboarding

Crail and Watts write that creating an onboarding process that checks all the boxes and works well for your organization can be a great challenge, especially for an HR department that already has its hands full with a laundry list of other day-to-day tasks.

To ensure successful onboarding, companies can adopt the following best practices:

  • Personalized Plans: Tailor onboarding programs to individual roles and needs.
  • Clear Communication: Maintain open lines of communication and provide regular feedback.
  • Mentorship: Assign mentors or buddies to guide new hires through their early days.
  • Continuous Learning: Offer ongoing training and development opportunities.
  • Feedback Loops: Encourage employees to share their thoughts on the onboarding process.
  • Digital Resources: Create a digital repository of resources, including training materials and company policies.
  • Measure Success: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of onboarding.
  • Adaptability: Continuously update the onboarding process to align with evolving needs and circumstances.

The goal is to make “Day One” as enjoyable as possible.

“No matter how well-prepared a candidate is, we can just about guarantee that on day one they will be feeling a healthy mixture of excitement and nerves,” write Crail and Watts. “During day one, focus on showing the employee around their new work area, providing them with equipment and access codes as necessary, and getting to know them as a person. Introduce them to their team and their manager, give them a tour, help them set up their desk/work area, and ask them if they have any questions. Doing your best to facilitate the new employee’s integration with your current employees will go a long way to building a collaborative and supportive team.”

The bottom line is that onboarding is not just a mere formality; it’s a vital step in the journey of a new employee and the success of your company.

It can help to have a partner in creating seamless transitions for your new hires. Contact Employer Flexible today for solutions and technologies that can help your small business navigate onboarding and other key HR processes.


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