From the impacts of the Great Resignation to navigating a growing need for flexible hours and hybrid schedules, organizations face many challenges in retaining their employees. A common solution to both of these issues is a well-constructed onboarding plan. While many organizations offer these programs, it appears that most may be missing the mark.
Successful onboarding programs are critical for getting employees started on the right path and minimizing the information overload that comes with a new job. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced many companies to shift to a virtual onboarding approach, before they were ready to adapt. In a 2020 Workable study, HR employees were polled and listed remote hiring, onboarding, and training as primary obstacles in filling open positions within the company.
Although beginning a job remotely can help ease employees' transition into remote work, it makes their ability to connect to the organization more difficult. A 2021 study from Principles found that 94% of HR professionals polled have onboarded new hires that have only interacted with their team virtually and have yet to meet anyone in person, 31% said that new hires are struggling to connect with their colleagues and 10% were unsure how their new hires were adjusting. All of these results highlight the importance of creating a company culture that supports employees' overall well-being as well as their performance and allows them to feel connected from afar.
7 Tips for Onboarding Success
Understand their challenges. Recognize that problems are the norm when starting a new job and proactively address potential obstacles for your new hires. If a new hire is reluctant to raise their hand with a problem, issues will pile up and new relationships will be strained.
Accelerate their learning. Supply your employees with the new technical knowledge they need to do the job, but also the cultural and political knowledge about how your organization works so they can be productive and feel connected sooner.
Make them part of the team. Practice inclusive onboarding. Introduce the new hire to the team and explain everyone’s role. Do it sooner rather than later so everyone can be a part of helping the new team member get acclimated.
Connect them with key stakeholders. There are likely people outside of the new employee’s team who are important to know, so be sure to make introductions.
Give them direction. Set clear expectations. Tell the new employee what needs to be done, how to go about doing it, and why it matters. Then give them a point of contact to go to when help is needed.
Help them get early wins. The sooner you start celebrating success, the better; it makes employees feel valued, builds confidence, and generates momentum.
Coach them for success. After the initial onboarding, continue to connect with and coach your employees. Even a simple "How are you doing in the new role?" now and then can go a long way.
"Onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged."
Amy Hirsh Robinson, The Interchange Group in Los Angeles
The onboarding process lays the foundation for an employee's success. It could set them on a course to either become loyal and productive or confused and disengaged. Amy Hirsh Robinson with the Interchange Group suggests that after the initial orientation, organizations should survey new employees to check whether their expectations are being met and then continue with regular check-ins. Another suggestion is to pair new hires up with a mentor or buddy, to ensure they have someone they can direct questions to and get support from, outside of their manager.
With so many organizations hiring and in need of great talent, it is imperative to create a culture of belonging for your new hires. Retaining your employees boosts your reputation in the market as well as ensures you have a healthy talent pipeline for succession planning and organizational growth. Building a people-first corporate mindset sends the important message that the organization is invested in the employee's successful integration and resiliency during a critical period of initial adjustment.