Does Onboarding Really Work?

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Put yourself for a second in the nightmare mindset of a high schooler who’s about to start a new school in a new town. Where to go, who to sit with, what are the cool kids are doing after school… these are cringe-worthy questions even decades after the fact.

No, this isn’t high school anymore; we’re all (mostly) grown-ups here with real world experience and growing resumes. However, the deeply human desire to fit in remains. And it’s much more pivotal to workplace productivity than you might imagine.

That’s why the strategy of onboarding exists. It’s HR’s solution to helping a new hire get comfortable in the workplace as they begin their new job. But does onboarding really work?

Surveys show that of all people who quit their new job within 6 months, a third of those leave within the first month. What would motivate them to stay? The same survey says clearer guidelines, more effective training, and a friendly environment are the top three things that might have prevented them from leaving. An onboarding strategy that focuses on these factors, then, may be highly valuable in boosting employee retention rates.

Effective Onboarding Begins Before the Start Date

Onboarding should be a team effort between both HR and management or supervisory figures. HR can leverage their expertise in employee engagement as well as scheduling and coordinating, while managers can lead training and mentoring. Consistent communication between these two parties is key to ensuring effective onboarding.

Furthermore, successful onboarding actually starts before the new hire even walks through the door on their first day. This means putting together a robust agenda for the new hire, for at least their first three weeks on the job. This schedule would include orientation, training, meetings, lunches, and employee shadowing.

Additionally, don’t wait until their first day to set up their workstation. Prepare their computer, phone, email, and other tools, as well as necessary office supplies, training materials, and handbooks. At CyberSearch, we like to also leave some company swag at their desk as a little welcome gift.

New Hires Need Support After Their First Day Too

Once a new employee officially starts, onboarding typically includes a company tour and staff introductions, as well as orientation. Get them situated with all the necessary paperwork, payroll info, benefits set up, etc.

It’s a great idea to take this time to further explain some of the details you might have discussed in the interview – the company culture, the company’s business model, the ins and outs of working with each boss, and similar considerations. The idea is to get them up to speed so they’re on the same page and feeling comfortable with company policies.

Additionally, set up some lunches with each member of management, so that your new team member gets comfortable with who they are reporting to. A team lunch with peers and coworkers is also good so they can begin to feel part of the group. If you have weekly team meetings, consider implementing some kind of icebreaker activity. Finally, pairing up a new hire with a mentor can be a big help.

Typically, by the third week of onboarding, new employees are ready and willing to be cut loose to get on with their new job by themselves. Regular check-ins with managers and HR are helpful to make sure everything is going smoothly.

How to Tell if Onboarding is Working

A carefully planned onboarding strategy is only half the deal, though. Measurement and evaluation are vital to achieving success. Otherwise, how will you know if it’s working?

The first step is evaluating how your new hire is doing on the job. Of course, part of this depends on whether they were a good match for the job in the first place, but their performance also relies on how effectively they are being trained and engaged in the job. Conduct weekly reviews or check-ins for the first few weeks to ensure everything’s going smoothly. Be sure to touch base both with HR and management/supervisors – sometimes one party will pick up on something that the other doesn’t.

You’ll know if your onboarding process is working well when your new employees feel welcomed and engaged. The more engaged they are, the more they’ll get out of training, and the more productive they are likely to be.

At the end of the day, happy employees who know they matter to the organization will always execute better work. So not only does effective onboarding positively impact your retention rates, it also boosts productivity (which, of course, boosts your bottom line).

Ultimately, a good onboarding process helps new hires avoid feeling like that awkward teenager in the lunchroom on their first day of school. At CyberSearch, we love working closely with clients to bring on new team members. Let us know how we can help you today.