As per statistics, 22 percent of turnover takes place within the initial 45 days and 16 percent in the course of the first week. The key reason for the turnover is bad onboarding and shifting expectations pertaining to the position.

How to Onboard and Integrate New Employees Effectively

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In this article, you’ll read about 1) employee onboarding – importance and benefits, 2) stages of onboarding and integration, and 3) best practices.

EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING – IMPORTANCE AND BENEFITS

Limit startup expenditure and curtail expensive turnover

It is a common feature of many industries that organizations lose as big a percentage as 15% of employees each year. Fortunately, good onboarding programs ensure that your current employees are valued and equipped with all tools required to succeed. They reveal in a tangible manner how the organization is genuinely concerned about its employees, reducing the likelihood of the latter looking for a job elsewhere. Proper orientation assists new hires with quickly getting up to speed, thereby bringing down the expenses pertaining to learning the job.

Investing in employees benefits your company

Employees are an organization’s key asset. Invest resources and time into keeping your employees creative, informed, loyal and protective and you would reap the benefits.

Brings down time-to-productivity

The metric “time-to-productivity” is quickly gaining acceptance as a vital measurement in talent management and hiring circles. It is defined in various ways. While for some, it means the time needed for new hires to accomplish the job expertise of a hire who has been at the company for two years. For others, it is the time needed for new hires to have the required equipment, skills and information to carry out their tasks at optimum productivity. With the new hires getting up to speed faster, it would be hard to distinguish between the hires who have put in one or more years of service, and the new entrants.

Helps the employee acquire job-associated knowledge

Proper onboarding educates employees about the mission, vision, culture and values of the organization. It also makes certain that new hires fully comprehend what’s required of them for a particular job role and how their work is connected to the organization’s operations as a whole. New employees get to know how to deliver and when and how they would be assessed.

Helps bring about organizational culture

Employee onboarding is used to preserve the positive organizational culture. So it is essential that fresh hires be immersed on Day One itself.

Increases employee engagement

Effective onboarding makes employees feel valued, helps them grow in knowledge and skills and also assists them with realizing their full potential. This leads to better employee engagement.

Other benefits of proper onboarding include: a reduction in employee anxiety which one feels when one is usually in a strange or new situation, and more time saved for the supervisor because he has to spend less or no time teaching the hire if the initial orientation was good.

STAGES OF ONBOARDING AND INTEGRATION

Even before you put out the job ad or post the job vacancy, make sure you know exactly what the role is for which you’re hiring and that you are clear about the expectations. Not defining what you expect as a company and your requirements from the employee is the worst mistake you can make when starting the recruitment process. Don’t make this mistake if you want smooth and easy employee onboarding and integration.

Stage One: Prior to Day One

Immediately after the hire accepts the offer, you should plan the paperwork, give him information about where he needs to be on day one, what to wear and who to report to. If you like, you can send a welcome packet or letter signed by one of the higher ranking officials in your organization, and possibly gift the employee a small token as a welcome to the company.

Employee onboarding technology in the form of a branded portal can be used to deliver tailored information to new employees to speed up the paperwork process and provide new employees with the chance to work at the pace that suits them.

Discuss logistics with your employee prior to the first day so that he is sure about aspects such as driving directions, public transportation, parking, dress code, expected arrival time, who to meet on arrival, lunch plans on the first day.

Your employee should feel like you were fully prepared and ready for his arrival. See to it that all the necessary access and identification cards, business cards, systems and email access, keys, office supplies, map of the building/office, internal phone directory and payroll information are ready for the employee’s use before he arrives. There are many instances of employees who started looking for a new job because of unpreparedness from the part of their employer.

Make the new hire feel welcome and not uneasy or suffocated. Try to present serious and sensitive issues optimistically but effectively. Don’t make it look like you’re imposing a lengthy list of rules on the new employee.

Stage Two: First Day

Given below is a look at some of the important things to do on the first day. One thing is to make the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture clear to the employee particularly how the employee’s job relates to the company’s mission. Entrust somebody with the task of meeting the fresh hire and providing an office tour. In the course of the office tour, the entrusted person would have to show the employee where the mail room, copy machine, lunch room, restrooms, employee mailboxes and such things are. Talk about the benefits package. If possible, get some staff members to treat the new hire to lunch or else to join him as he eats his lunch on the first day. Complete security and paperwork requirements.

Fix a meeting with the employee’s supervisor for the afternoon of the first day. In the course of this meeting, the supervisor can give the employee a picture of the latter’s responsibilities and what the initial 30 to 90 days in his position are expected to be like.

Considering the fact that new employees are expected to memorize a lot of information in a limited amount of time, encourage your new hire to take notes and make him feel like questions pertaining to the job are absolutely welcome.

Stage Three: Initial Week

At this stage, there should be clear communication of the new employee’s role and responsibilities. The supervisor and the new employee should discuss preferred management style and typical processes (for example: the manner of decision making). A key element of onboarding – the establishment of expectations pertaining to performance metrics, deliverables and timelines begins here.

Introduce the new hire to senior staff as well as other employees.

If the hire is himself in a supervisory role, additionally make sure that he has group or one-on-one interactions with direct reports in the course of the first week. Such meetings will assist with building a new team and enable the new employee to get an idea of each team member’s work style.

If the role calls for it, also schedule meetings of the new hire with Board members, partners, funders or other entities/bodies as per necessity.

Stage Four: First Thirty days

Make it clear to the employee what you expect him to achieve and within what time frame. Also establish boundaries. This is also the stage for developing professional relationships with the manager and coworkers, cross functional orientation, work group orientation and familiarization with organizational procedures and practices. Help the new hire investigate the company’s overall culture. Involve the fresh hire in bringing the company’s vision and mission statement to life. Permit him to discern what plans the organization sticks to to keep to its core values.

Stage Five: Initial 90 days

At stage four, the manager or supervisor should assess performance and provide feedback early and frequently.

In the course of the first month, it is conventional to anticipate modest deliverables which the new employee can learn on the job as well as be on the path to confidence building and success. As the initial three months come to a close, the new hire must be close to getting up to speed. In addition, he should expect to be assessed on a regular workload.

When entering the 60-day mark, brainstorm the different methods by which the employee’s strengths can step up company growth. Continue to communicate expectations in a lucid manner. Encourage the hire to get a broader perspective pertaining to the company and its objectives. Also encourage him to contribute more to presentations and conversations.

All through the initial three months, look out for opportunities to merge new employees into their workgroups as well as into the organization taken as a whole.

Regularly check with new hires to make certain that they are continuing to digest and develop.

Stage Six: The 90 day mark and the first year

By the time three months are over, your new hire should have a strong idea about his role and how it contributes to the company’s overall success. If all’s good, his confidence would have increased compared to the first day and he would be looking to put his leadership qualities to good use. The new hire should be aware and attentive of new projects and be prepared with possible solutions. Set aside some time to notice your new hire’s progress and to reward him for contributions and advancement. Assist him with avoiding minor mistakes and with setting right the errors and refocusing accordingly. The employee should be expected to be proactive with respect to his responsibilities.

Stage Seven: First Year

Carry out a fresh employee survey. Provide the employee with training to fill skill gaps and develop competencies. Encourage the fresh hire to make a note of ideas for enhancing the operations, culture or strategy of the organization. Though the new hire may feel uncomfortable about sharing his views on these aspects, it is essential that the organization be open to the views of newcomers.

On the day the employee completes one year of service, send him a congratulatory letter or email.

BEST PRACTICES

1. The manager should be involved

The relationship between manager and employee is the most important in an employee’s career and is essential in onboarding. The manager is required to meet with new hires as early as possible after the start date, to fix performance expectations, set goals, and make development plans (whether 1 year, 90 days, 60 days or 30 days). Fixing clear expectations in advance paves the way for the employee to develop a feeling of ownership and assist him with comprehending how to be successful. The necessity for involvement of the manager is particularly true for the Generation Y workforce as the requirement for personal connections is especially high.

2. Engage in it over a longer time frame

You already know that onboarding should start prior to day one. However, you should also know that onboarding must continue beyond week one. According to studies, having an onboarding process that goes on for three months or over one year, leads to improved employee retention. This gives you the opportunity to deal with certain topics (product training for example) in detail compared to other programs for which a shorter duration is adequate. An extended duration also makes it possible for managers, buddies and mentors to be continually engaged and involved and to provide feedback and lucid expectations clearly and on a continuing basis.

3. Invite questions and measure success

An “open door” is not enough. You need to encourage your new hires to ask questions because new employees are generally reluctant to do so if not told to. Ask them what’s working, what’s challenging and what’s just plain confusing. Make it clear to them that asking questions will help them learn and they don’t have to avoid the practice for fear of “looking dumb.”

Set up a system to measure the success of your program. Get feedback from new hires about the program, at intervals (90 days, 60 days, 30 days or 1 week). Invite each of them to a focus group or one-on-one interview to measure qualitative responses. You can use the one-on-one environment to put across open-ended questions. One example of such a question is “How do you feel about your workspace?” Reflect on questions that look into such aspects as whether they can fully tap into their capabilities and skills and/or whether they are getting suitable assignments.

4. Provide lucid explanations for specific work projects

It is not enough to provide lucid information pertaining to your company’s objectives and their work in general. It is also essential that you extend this lucidity when it comes to the new hires’ work assignments – what you expect them to do on their own, what resources are available, where they are required to work in collaboration with others, and the deliverables and the deadline by which they are expected, among other aspects.

5. Assimilation

Consider establishing a personal touch outside the workplace like taking the newbies for lunch on the first day. However, assimilation may not be the right approach for all organizations.

6. Immediately involve them in training or actual work

An onboarding survey conducted by BambooHR and released in 2014 reveals that 76 percent of the survey’s respondents concur on on-the-job training being the most essential for a hire to get up to speed and start contributing at the earliest.

7. Incorporate mentors

Having a coach or mentor for new hires increases both the effectiveness of onboarding as well as employee retention. You can assign a team member or other employee with the task of mentorship or else have a group of mentors to provide help for various departments of the organization. Mentors can assist you with building morale, improving retention, building teams, bettering time to productivity, enabling learning, providing continuing career development, and providing network and culture assimilation.

8. Automation

Autmation considerably reduces the hassles associated with onboarding new employees while also increasing their productivity as well as that of the HR staff. Automation also helps save money in terms of time, paper, printing and shipping among other things.

9. Having a single system for hiring and onboarding

A dashboard-style system with portals to access various onboarding material whether manuals, paperwork or other material from a single place is a great way to reduce the laboriousness associated with onboarding. The use of such a streamlining-enabling system reduces the quantity of work needed by both the company’s HR department and new employees.

10. Utilize technology (including social)

As mentioned earlier, automation (technology) makes the process of onboarding less of a hassle. Also consider incorporating social tools into your everyday work practices. The storing of information, sharing expertise and development of communities on the internal social network encourages employees to utilize social tools so as to progress in their projects and accomplish tasks. Conventional one-on-one conversations can be transformed into dynamic, social discussions across lines and teams of businesses to achieve competitive value.

Take the step today to improve your onboarding and integration practices and you’ll be able to retain your employees for longer. It’s definitely worth the effort.

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