Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, no matter its size or industry. Along with sound strategy and a productive, satisfying culture, employees are an indispensable source of growth and innovation, from the onboarding process to exit interviews and beyond. Therefore, it’s in every organization’s best interest to nurture their employees at every stage of the employee experience, beginning before a new team member even steps foot through the door on their first day.
A successful approach to onboarding immerses a new employee into an organization’s policies, procedures, and culture by introducing them to the tools necessary for a productive and satisfying tenure. Unfortunately, what might seem intuitive and natural at first glance is anything but straightforward. In fact, an onboarding strategy that relies on such intuition or outdated, imprecise information will never maximize its enduring impact. Instead, an approach rooted in feedback and driven by people analytics is the only way an employer can establish and maintain the agility to create a personalized onboarding experience tailored to the strengths of every new hire.
To help organizations assemble and maintain an effective onboarding strategy, Hyphen has assembled the only resource you’ll ever need to make the very most of your onboarding. In this comprehensive guide, we cover several different aspects of onboarding, including why it’s so important, common mistakes made, case studies, and best practices to implement an approach best suited for your own needs. While every organization is different and has a unique set of goals and expectations, a common thread weaves its way through every component of the onboarding process: feedback.
As we’ll demonstrate, the invaluable people data culled from real-time feedback serves as an employer’s rutter as it develops and steers an impactful onboarding strategy, establishing a foundation that will serve an organization well into the future. Hyphen relishes the opportunity to provide the feedback solutions necessary to help build that foundation, beginning with a winning onboarding strategy.
Create a personalized onboarding experience tailored to the strengths of every new hire.
An effective strategy begins with the desired income, then the proper procedures are identified and instilled to reach that outcome. The same approach helps an organization assemble a winning onboarding strategy, one that gives that ever-important stage of the employee’s journey the level of attention and effort it deserves.
To that point, making the absolute most of the onboarding experience has become a requirement for organizations to find success in such a competitive marketplace, where attrition is corrosive to all levels of productivity and talent in short supply. Regarding attrition alone, roughly 20% of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment, often a symptom of substandard onboarding procedures.
Likewise, nearly 90% of new hires begin looking for another job within the first six months of employment – a statistic that's even higher for millennials – and almost a quarter of all new employees leave the organization before their first year anniversary.
The tech and startup sectors, for example, experience high turnover rates relative to other industries and, not coincidentally, often make insufficient investments into onboarding procedures, relying on newcomers to fend for their own when new to an organization. While there's certainly room for spontaneity within the onboarding process, an entirely ad-hoc approach carries distinct dangers with it, including:
Alternatively, an organized, robust, and fulfilling onboarding experience has an equally beneficial effect on individual workers as well as the overall organization.
Nearly 70% of employees will stay with an employer for three years or more if the onboarding experience is satisfying and thorough, resulting in 50% higher productivity rates when onboarding is considered effective.
Given the fact that, on average, it takes eight months for a new hire to reach full productivity, successful onboarding obviously plays a critical role in minimizing attrition and giving both the employee and employer enough time for a workforce to fully ramp up. Overall, when employers make sufficient investments of resources and attention into their onboarding procedures, the benefits are far-reaching and broad in scope, including:
While the actual onboarding process itself should be concise to ramp up the employee as quickly as possible and, therefore, become a productive member of the team without delay, it should also establish sound practices and communication channels between the employee and their co-workers, management, and HR. Collectively, the education, training, knowledge, and skills developed and fostered throughout onboarding will be instrumental for the duration of employment.
Orientation, although a critical component of the onboarding process, is still nothing more than that – a single component. Think of orientation as a singular event that welcomes a new employee into the company and introduces them to the most basic of policies and procedures. The entire onboarding process, however, is a series of interconnected events that uses orientation as a launching pad into a far more thorough dive into the necessities and requirements to be successful in their position and within the organization itself.
Furthermore, it's often helpful to separate the onboarding process into both formal and informal procedures that, together, provide a structured and organized approach while leaving plenty of room for voicing questions, concerns, and a more spontaneous and open atmosphere.
Recent research has shown that organizations that divide their onboarding process into these formal and informal categories have a workforce better equipped to handle the daily rigors of the job and fit better into the corporate culture. Of course, this is yet another instance of the onboarding process playing an enduring role throughout a team member's employment and not just the beginning of the worker/employer relationship.
Like any other form of strategy, constructing and implementing effective onboarding procedures should have a clear endgame in mind, allowing the process to be quantified, analyzed, and measured for maximum efficiency and impact. Hyphen's platform can provide the tools needed to accomplish those tasks, giving employers the ability to establish benchmarks and guideposts throughout their onboarding to continually monitor for success and any areas in need of improvement.
Using a consistent and thorough feedback system, such as Hyphen, based on pertinent people data throughout onboarding can reveal how effective onboarding procedures are in reaching those goals. From the very beginning of onboarding during employee orientation to subsequent training sessions and introductions, all of the different components within the onboarding process should work in unison to help reach those predetermined goals. Orientation, although an essential but single piece of the complete onboarding puzzle as previously discussed, should include its own set of goals to accomplish, including:
Aside from orientation, the overall onboarding strategy should strive to accomplish three distinct goals that, at least at first glance, might appear to be highly qualitative and subjective and, therefore, impossible to measure. However, with the sense of direction and impact provided by Hyphen's feedback platform, these goals can be gauged with people data metrics to continually monitor onboarding effectiveness:
Although every organization is different and, therefore, requires a personalized approach to employee onboarding, the end results should always yield a distinct set of building blocks from which an employee can rely upon to find success and satisfaction within their role in the organization, including:
Likewise, although the onboarding process never really ends but, instead, seamlessly evolves into subsequent stages of the employee experience, once an employee is fully ramped up and reaches full productivity, both the worker and management should be able to look back at the onboarding process and recognize a handful of accomplished objectives. If both parties perceive these objectives as successfully completed, then the onboarding process itself can be considered a success:
A successful onboarding process establishes a solid foundation that both an employee and employer can rely upon well into the future. Traditionally more of an afterthought rather than a focus of attention, organizations are just now starting to understand the last impact of a successful onboarding experience. While feedback systems like Hyphen’s can prove to be powerful tools to inform and guide the onboarding process, employers must first make a commitment to improving the process itself before assembling an onboarding strategy.
Onboarding is simply too important to every level of an organization to be relegated to half measures and lackluster efforts. Make a genuine commitment, devote the necessary resources, and develop a sound, feedback-driven strategy to make onboarding a source of enduring strength and consistency that serves as an organizational bedrock for years to come. Once goals are established and a commitment to onboarding excellence firmly in place, it’s time to start sorting through different best practices to help you reach those goals.
Onboarding is simply too important to every level of an organization to be relegated to half measures and lackluster efforts.
For any strategy to be effective, an organization must understand the assorted techniques that will be useful during implementation. The same notion rings true for an onboarding strategy, where a handful of best practices, simple do’s and don’ts, and examples of success could very well be the difference between a productive, motivated workforce and one mired in attrition and inefficiency.
Being the newcomer to a workplace can already be an intimidating experience, surrounded by a seemingly endless stream of new faces, tasks, and procedures. An ill-prepared workstation or, even worse, a cluttered or messy one definitely won’t make a new employee’s first day memorable for the right reasons.
Therefore, treat your new hire's first day like they’re an old friend rather than a stranger. Have their workstation stocked with anything and everything needed for them to be successful in their new position, including supplies, their computer and monitor, technology subscriptions they'll need, and anything else that will help them hit the ground running. A handwritten note from an executive welcoming them to the family can also be a much appreciated personal touch that can immediately make your new team employee feel important and valued. A small, company branded gift – even something incidental like a smartphone cover or shirt – will further extend a welcomed feeling.
Likewise, developing a set of fun and exciting traditions for new hires can also go a long way in making them feel like they're part of the team. Such efforts don't have to be elaborate or expensive but can be as simple as a mock game show, team lunch, or even a scavenger hunt that can be both fun and familiarize the new employee with the office layout and their coworkers.
Whatever approach you take and traditions you embrace, just make sure it's part of an overall effort extended throughout the first few weeks of employment, paying particular attention to that all-important first day. In fact, with nearly 4% of new hires leaving their new job after a horrendous first day, it simply makes sense for everyone involved to do everything you can to make it an educational and enjoyable experience.
As the old saying goes, there's no “I” in team. The onboarding process involves many people from different departments, all needing to work in a cohesive, collective fashion to establish a positive onboarding experience for a new employee. Create a detailed schedule ahead of time that clearly spells out who is responsible for which particular onboarding tasks, when they will be accomplished, and group them with similar activities to maximize efficiency. Otherwise, onboarding can quickly become a tangled, confusing series of disconnected moments that achieve nothing more than giving the new hire second thoughts on accepting the position in the first place.
Speaking of the new hire, provide them with their own list of goals and tasks they need to accomplish throughout the onboarding process, including a detailed schedule as well as the supervisors or coworkers that might be assisting them. Introducing them into some semblance of a regular, daily routine will ramp them up faster and allow them to become more self-sufficient and productive.
Even the most talented of new employees will ultimately become a detriment to the overall organization if they don't adhere to your policies and embrace your culture. Throughout onboarding, continue to revisit different facets of your organization's mission and culture to make certain it's fully absorbed, understood, and accepted.
On a smaller scale, this component of onboarding should cover their daily routine, including when to arrive and leave the office, protocol for answering calls – particularly when dealing with the customer base – working from home after office hours, communicating with management, and the social aspects to the workplace.
Depending on their position, and emphasis should be placed on service-oriented topics if a new hire has any communication with customers. Such topics should naturally include a thorough understanding of the products and services your organization offers – information that is helpful even to those employees that don't directly deal with your consumer segments. Be sure to provide written documentation to accompany the verbal instruction received during onboarding so a new hire can reference those materials whenever needed.
While HR and management undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the onboarding process, there is something to be said for letting someone from the proverbial frontlines show a new hire the lay of the land. It provides the new team member and impactful perspective that is more representative of what they'll experience on a daily basis going forward. As instrumental as classroom instruction can be to onboarding for the simple purpose of conveying and absorbing important information, there will always be questions regarding the minutia of the workplace and job itself that are best answered by a knowledgeable coworker serving as a guide.
To make the most of such a mentorship, however, make every attempt to request volunteers for the role rather than randomly assigning them. A new hire will gain a lot more from the experience if the mentor is excited to be in the position and doesn't view it as a hindrance to their other responsibilities or waste of their time. Likewise, make sure the coworker and new employee are a good personality match as they will be spending a significant amount of time with one another, including lunch breaks or even office social events.
This is especially important for millennials and Gen Z employees, where 74% of them rank effective workplace collaboration as an essential component of a satisfying employee experience.
If a long journey begins with a single step, assume that perspective throughout your onboarding process to help temper an organization’s initial expectations and maintain focus on what lies ahead. Don't deluge your newest team member with an avalanche of information that can be, at best, a bit disorienting and, at worst, downright frustrating and intimidating.
Pace your onboarding process to distribute all sessions evenly over the course of your allotted time. The most important information should be presented early in the process and then consistently revisited to make sure it's properly understood. Once again, provide your new hire with documentation as you go that can serve as a valuable reference as training concludes and they segue into regular job responsibilities.
Most importantly, structure your onboarding approach so that information builds on itself, using yesterday's sessions as the foundation for today's talking points. This will ensure an effective, gradual immersion into your organization, job expectations, important procedures, and simply becoming a productive member of the team.
Throughout the onboarding process, don't be shy to ask your new employee for their opinion on the process and anything that leaves room for improvement. Of course, given a new hire’s position within the organization, they might feel uncomfortable providing anything resembling criticism of their new employer and your onboarding procedures. Therefore, keep such requests informal and within a relaxed environment, perhaps even using anonymous surveys to eliminate any undue pressure a new hire might feel while providing authentic, unbiased feedback.
Also, feedback should not be a one-time event but a continuing process, used consistently throughout every stage of onboarding to better inform each component of the process. Of course, Hyphen's own dynamic feedback system provides an extremely convenient yet effective system to request, collect, and analyze the feedback that plays such a vital role in designing and maintaining an effective onboarding approach.
Just as importantly, Hyphen's platform utilizes mobile technology as well as many of the more popular communication platforms already being used within organizations, making your feedback system seamless and convenient to use. Such attributes are essential to maximizing participation rates and collecting the sort of insights needed to optimize the effectiveness of your onboarding.
As previously discussed, successful onboarding will continue to pay dividends for each employee as well as your entire organization well into the future. Authentic feedback plays a pivotal role in developing that ever important onboarding process, making it an irreplaceable component of the entire employee experience.
No matter how many people, departments, and individual sessions are involved in your onboarding process, an organized approach lends efficiency to the process that benefits everyone involved. Use the following points to guide your onboarding and derive the most lasting benefit from it:
Feedback should not be a one-time event but a continuing process
The best examples of successful onboarding don’t stem from strategies that are sound on paper but provide little benefit when applied. Like the employees it guides into your organization's workforce and culture, onboarding itself is an ever-evolving entity that builds on strategy but isn't relegated to it. The following examples typify forward-looking onboarding practices that take useful best practices to heart and leverage them for maximum impact.
The online retailer centers its entire onboarding approach around its culture which, in turn, revolves customer service. The company divides its four-week onboarding into distinct components – the first two weeks of which immerse the new employee into its core values, customer-oriented culture, and the systems that support such efforts. Team building and empowerment is emphasized throughout the month-long process, concluding with a graduation ceremony to mark the importance of onboarding to the organization and its workforce.
Afterwards, Zappos continues the relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction throughout every stage of the employee experience. This focused attention to its audience obviously works well for the organization, with 75% of sales stemming from repeat customers despite higher price points relative to the competition.
As evidence to the benefits of a highly organized onboarding strategy, Twitter has labeled its onboarding procedures as “Yes-to-Desk,” a month-long process that features coordinated efforts between HR, IT, and other key departments over the course of 75 separate components. New hires are given a bottle of wine, branded t-shirt, workstation assignment, and corporate email address before onboarding even begins.
Likewise, Twitter provides a comprehensive onboarding guide in the days before onboarding begins, giving new hires the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the process and complete paperwork ahead of time. To reinforce a sense of belonging and importance, new hires attend happy hours, team lunches, and weekly strategy sessions with senior management.
Buffer, a social media management platform, gives us an enlightening example of the need for onboarding that matches the dynamic nature of the marketplace and society itself. Previously well know for it six-week boot camp strategy to envelop new hires in its culture and processes, Buffer has recently reinvented its onboarding strategy, now adopting an approach that places an emphasis on employee well-being, comfort, and Buffer’s core values.
Rather than directly emphasizing culture, Buffer instead creates an onboarding experience that focuses on the values that feed its culture. Such a change allows Buffer to foster a more personalized, open atmosphere in its onboarding, now concentrating on improved communication and authenticity throughout the process.
Although every organization is unique and has its own specific needs from the onboarding process, there are a few common threads found amongst them, particularly in how they leverage Hyphen’s feedback platform to guide the process, as well as the questions most commonly asked in onboarding surveys. Typically speaking, organizations prefer to utilize Hyphen’s feedback tools at particular milestones within the onboarding process, including:
Hyphen allows employers to conveniently automate the feedback process, including surveys distributed and collected during typically busy onboarding procedures. In fact, with the surveys, pulse polls, and variety of insightful tools made available through Hyphen’s comprehensive employee feedback solutions, HR and management will be provided the immediate, authentic, and in-depth people data needed to improve and guide every stage of the employee experience.
Unfortunately, organizations that choose to rely on the aforementioned intuition and outdated, inaccurate information rather than real-time, germane people analytics are often those that fall victim to common mistakes made during the onboarding process and, more often than not, the accompanying lackluster results as well.
Just like common traits found in the most successful individuals and organizations throughout the world, there are also frequent commonalities in those that can never seem to rise above the pack and truly shine. When it comes to an onboarding strategy, several inefficient, ineffective traits are common amongst enterprise’s that don’t invest sufficient time, effort, and resources into the critical process.
There’s a reason why the most successful organizations – 83% of them, in fact – begin the onboarding process before a new employee even sets foot in the building on their first day of work. Effective onboarding is meticulous and highly organized, properly distributing important tasks across a limited amount of time before the new hire is expected to be ramped up and ready to go.
In other words, an employer should avoid any semblance of procrastination or disorganization, creating a detailed schedule and plan for employee onboarding that clearly spells out what is required every single day. That isn’t to say, however, that an organization should immediately hand an intimidating mountain of paperwork to a new hire as soon as they sit down on that first day. Instead, employers should balance onboarding time for maximum productivity, effectively developing the new hire while avoiding aimless training sessions thrown together at the last minute.
Technology, as is often the case, provides employers with powerful solutions to help find that balance. To make the best use of time, HR can utilize onboarding platforms specifically designed to streamline the process, providing the new employee both mobile and desktop access to most, if not all, training sessions and reference materials as well as questionnaires and required paperwork. Such solutions allow a new hire to complete benefits and tax forms at their own convenience without using valuable onboarding time that could otherwise be devoted to more value-added tasks.
As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. While no one expects organizations to roll out the red carpet and cater lunch from the finest restaurant in town for a new hire's first day, there's something to be said for at least having everything in place. Imagine being the newest employee of an organization where everyone in the office already knows each other and the day-to-day routine like the back of their hand. Suffice it to say, those first days can be intimidating, even overwhelming if everything doesn't go smoothly.
If that new employee walks up to a messy workstation, a computer that doesn't work, not an office supply in sight, and no technology subscriptions in place that are necessary for the job, that first impression is going to be a negative one that could very well carry forward throughout the duration of employment. HR, management, and coworkers should all be prepared for a new employee’s arrival, making certain their immersion into their new position, as well as the organization’s culture, is free of any hiccups and as beneficial as possible. Although every stage of the employee experience is important, the impression given during onboarding could very well affect an employee and, therefore, the enterprise itself for years to come.
According to a recent poll, only 50% of workers strongly agreed that they understood what their employer expected of them. Such a statistic doesn't bode well for organizations that rely on a cohesive workforce that works in unison to reach both individual and organizational goals. Onboarding is the ideal time and environment to be transparent and upfront with a new employee, providing succinct expectations for their particular role as well as what they add to the enterprise itself.
Since it takes, on average, six months for a new hire to feel fully ramped up and entirely prepared for the rigors of their position, employers must use that time to consistently check-in on the employee's progress, reinforcing critical concepts, and requesting feedback to see where the process can be improved. Hyphen's platform can prove to be a boon to employers looking for a highly efficient – even automated – system that provides real-time data on opinions that could shape the entire spectrum of the employee experience.
While jobs evolve over time and what might be an accurate description of responsibilities today isn’t necessarily accurate in the future. Therefore, job descriptions are fluid in nature, just like the marketplace itself. However, it's incumbent upon an employer to present an accurate list of – once again – expectations specific to the position relative to the required tasks and skill at the time it's filled. Such transparency helps a new employee adopt a realistic perspective and significantly improves their transition into your overall workforce. Discussing the future of a particular position and what reasonable expectations might arise can be a talking point during the onboarding process but in no way should be a focus of attention.
Harkening back to the need for adequate preparation, the onboarding process is vital to the success of the entire organization and requires deliberate planning to be successful. Therefore, onboarding should be a combination of education, relationship building, and networking to ramp up a new employee as quickly as possible without cutting any corners.
Establishing formal procedures will serve as a much-needed foundation as onboarding progresses and a new hire becomes more comfortable in their new position within an organization. However, formality should never be mistaken for rigidity as a high degree of flexibility is required to accommodate every individual's unique learning pace and ability to absorb new information. Coordinate with co-workers, management, and session leaders to best prepare for future onboarding events, and always provide follow-up material to your new hire as important reference points that reinforce what they learn throughout the process.
As previously established, the first days, weeks, or even months in a new job can be overwhelming. For that reason, it's important to evenly distribute information to avoid intimidating a new hire with too much data at once. As tempting as it might be to inundate your newest team member with as much information as possible to improve their ramp up speeds, such actions usually have the opposite effect. Overloading an employee is likely to overwhelm them to the point where little, if any, critical information regarding the position and organization is absorbed.
Hiring an individual means an employer sees potential in them and that, with time, they will be a valued and productive part of the organization. That isn't to say, however, that every new employee will immediately take to the culture and environment within their new workplace. Like most aspects of life, understanding and fitting into an organization's culture is learned behavior that occurs with experience and repetition.
Often times, coworkers are the best conduits for relaying information regarding an organization's culture, policies, and procedures. While classroom instruction and reference material can certainly be helpful in providing bullet points and summaries, they are a far cry from actual first-person experience. Request coworkers to volunteer their time and attention to a new hire, walking them through the paces of the daily routine to accelerate their understanding and acceptance of your organization's culture. This is particularly beneficial if a new hire, for instance, has spent their entire career in smaller companies but now faces the foreign landscape of a much larger workplace and workforce.
A supervisor's desk is always overflowing with a variety of projects, all requiring focus and attention to be successful. In other words, managers already deal with crowded schedules and little spare time. Therefore, devoting any of that precious time towards tasks deemed outside of their normal responsibilities could be viewed as a burden to a busy manager’s already jam-packed routine.
Given its importance to both the individual and organization, however, onboarding should be viewed by management as a part of those normal responsibilities, just as essential to the organization's success as financial reports and customer service. This conundrum presents yet another example of the absolute need to organize and schedule onboarding events well in advance, providing supervisors ample time to integrate one-on-one meetings with new hires or even conducting onboarding sessions into their schedule. As important and helpful as HR is to the process, they are not a substitute for the unique insights and impactful guidance a manager can provide a new team member.
Mistakenly used as synonyms for one another, orientation is a particular component of onboarding that is in no way representative of the overall onboarding process itself. More precisely, orientation is a singular event occurring at some point during onboarding, providing the new hire an opportunity to complete routine paperwork and other necessary tasks that are more administrative rather than focused on culture and the bigger picture. HR can neatly bundle orientation into a single morning or afternoon but onboarding is an ongoing process that builds on itself and gradually envelops the new employee in an organization's policies, procedures, and culture.
You wouldn't try your hand at backpacking through the wilderness without a map and compass at your side. Neglecting to collect feedback throughout the onboarding process is very much like a dangerous trip through the backcountry, walking blindly through the process without any sort of guidance to lead the way. Fortunately, Hyphen's platform is more like a GPS unit rather than a mere compass and map to inform your onboarding strategy.
With real-time, precise people data gathered at the most advantageous stages of the onboarding process using Hyphen’s feedback platform, HR and management can actively track an employee's progress and gauge the effectiveness of their onboarding strategy. Likewise, Hyphen allows an employer to make needed changes as onboarding progresses to gain the most benefit from this immensely important early stage of the employee experience.
Maximizing the effectiveness of the onboarding process correlates directly with higher job satisfaction, individual and workforce morale, and improved productivity at every level of an organization. Therefore, the insights afforded by Hyphen's feedback platform – equal parts convenient and comprehensive – are critical to establishing and maintaining an engaged, driven workforce that will inevitably serve as a powerful competitive advantage in a crowded, cantankerous marketplace.
Going forward, once an employee segues from the onboarding stage to regular employment, Hyphen continues to inform the journey through employee lifecycle surveys, pulse polls, and crowdsourced, bottom-up employee conversations that build on a successful onboarding strategy. Neglecting to collect feedback throughout that employee journey – the onboarding process naturally included – is intentionally ignoring a vital source of insightful people data that is very difficult, if not impossible, to gather by any other means.
Of course, depending on the organization, a variety of other factors should be taken into consideration when developing a comprehensive onboarding strategy, including:
Once an organization understands the importance of onboarding, the best practices common to effective strategies and, just as importantly, the miscues and potholes to avoid along the way, an employer can start planning for the deliberate and organized series of specific steps necessary to building an impactful, enduring onboarding strategy.
Being committed to onboarding success simply isn’t enough. An organization must pair that commitment with a practical yet ambitious set of steps that will transform onboarding from just another phase of the employee lifecycle to an undeniable asset that creates competitive advantage and a distinct brand within the crowded and contentious labor market. Some of these steps were also discussed in light of common mistakes in onboarding strategies but, given their importance, reemphasizing them by placing them within a context of necessary actions is essential to provide a well-rounded perspective.
You've found a candidate that's a good fit for the vacancy, they agreed to accept your offer, and now the process of immersing them in the position, your workplace, and your culture begins. Now is the time to be open and frank with your new hire, clearly laying out what management expects of them and what the organization hopes to accomplish with their employment. Be cordial but straightforward, friendly without ambiguity to clearly establish mutual goals.
Go out of your way to make your newest team member feel welcomed and an important part of the organization. Encouraging questions and productive interaction throughout onboarding makes them feel wanted and vital to your workforce, workplace, and organizational goals. Remember, this is a time where there are no silly questions, only helpful answers.
Of course, your new employee isn't the only one that will be experiencing a fair amount of change in the work environment. Existing team members should be coached on the latest addition to the team, reviewing roles and responsibilities, and reassigning tasks as needed to make the transition to a larger team as smooth as possible.
Once again, assigning a current employee to mentor the new hire can also be extremely beneficial in clarifying team roles, sharing relevant knowledge and insight, and developing critical social connections. Remember, 60% of managers with insufficient onboarding procedures blame a lack of effective working relationships as the primary driver of turnover.
A winning employee onboarding strategy is a team effort that might be spearheaded by one or two but accomplished by many. Your strategy should explain in detail who is responsible for which tasks within your onboarding process. Any vagueness in those assignments could lead to essential details slipping through the cracks and have a negative impact on your onboarding.
While few see paperwork regarding benefits and payroll options as intriguing, it's obviously an important component of employment. Since paperwork isn't exactly dynamic by nature, however, assign an experienced HR representative to help the new hire with the paperwork and associated options on the very first day so the remaining aspects of onboarding can proceed without interruption and distraction.
There's something to be said for sitting down at your new desk that's already neatly organized and fully stocked with everything you'll need. A well-prepared workstation inspires confidence within your new hire, removes unneeded confusion, and tells the employee that they can hit the ground running and the organization is happy to have them. If the goal of onboarding is to fully ramp-up a new worker as quickly and thoroughly as possible, the smallest of details can have a significant impact.
Like a well-prepared workstation, having all technology-based requirements for the position in place before the new team member begins onboarding streamlines the process and assures the employee that the organization is excited to have them and looks forward to them becoming a productive part of the team. Also, since a significant portion of onboarding should be spent familiarizing the new worker on software, hardware, and other technology-based skills for the position, having everything prepared in advance empowers the employee and can expedite training.
Depending on the size of your organization and workplace, a well-rounded introduction to as many co-workers as possible can help quickly eliminate the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. Naturally, introductions should concentrate on immediate team members and supervisors so, if time is running short, focus on the people the new hire will be working with and for, following up with other departments if time permits.
While onboarding needs to ramp-up the employee as quickly as possible to reach full productivity sooner rather than later, such a process should take place within an overall context. Meticulously explain the organization’s mission and goals, what it values within its culture, and how the employee fits into the entire picture. A detailed explanation not only helps the new hire understand their new employer from a more macro perspective but, just as importantly, also makes them feel like a valued part of the bigger picture.
Aside from that bigger picture, be sure to cover the basics, including dress code, conduct expectations, tardiness and sick policies, and any other information needed to be successful within your organization. A clear explanation of culture-related topics – paired with subjects more particular to the daily routine – helps create a well-rounded, comprehensive picture of the workplace, the general atmosphere and ethos of the office, and better defines the new employee’s place within the culture and team.
In a perfect world, resumes are always accurate, the truth never stretched, and employees are entirely ramped up from the start. However, that’s simply not realistic, so it’s in an employer's best interest to be extremely detail oriented in the training and educational component of the onboarding process. This isn’t to say that spending the majority of the time in a classroom is necessary as that doesn’t always lend itself to the most efficient way to absorb the material.
Whether training is conducted outdoors when the weather is nice, in a designated training facility, or in a combination of venues, be sure it is comprehensive enough in scope and time to adequately prepare the employee for the rigors of the position and working within the team and organization
Although training is a critical component to the onboarding process as it equips the new employee with the tools necessary for success in the position, fostering camaraderie and facilitating a healthy, satisfying employee experience is just as important. Both are equally vital parts of successful employment, maximizing productivity, and minimizing attrition. Simply put, employees that enjoy the workplace and their co-workers are less likely to search for employment elsewhere.
As important as thoroughly covering all relevant topics is to the onboarding process, including skills, procedures, and cultural aspects of the workplace, taking a hands-on approach to training can accelerate absorption, level the learning curve, and cut down the time needed for an employee to reach full productivity levels. Don’t be afraid to sit down with them at their new workstation and walk them through the paces of actual work. This highly interactive approach develops familiarity with the job responsibilities, the employee’s immediate working environment, and creates an ideal forum for focused questions and conversations regarding the position and daily tasks.
Traditionally, the onboarding process transitions into the retention and worker satisfaction phases of the employee experience at approximately one year of employment. Before that transition occurs, organizations should collect and analyze feedback from new employees at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks to measure the effectiveness of their onboarding processes and procedures. Afterward, quarterly surveys and polls can continue the process, again monitoring for inadequacies that could ultimately lead to unsatisfied employees and attrition.
Think of consistent feedback as GPS guidance through what would otherwise be a journey guided by intuition and best guesses. Although many generally think of satisfaction levels and overall happiness as qualitative concepts, technology-driven platforms like Hyphen’s can transform that people data into quantifiable metrics that management can use as invaluable, actionable insight. Such insight can better guide their onboarding approach as well as the subsequent stages of the employee experience.
Without an effective feedback system, communication gaps can expand, information silos form to prevent efficient distribution of thought and knowledge, and inconsistencies in training can slow an employee’s development. To that point, expanding on the need for feedback at the 30, 60, and 90-day points, a much more structured approach to those critical first three months will strengthen the bond between a new hire and employer, boosting satisfaction for all involved.
In a data-driven world, employers must track and quantify progress to reveal strengths, weaknesses, and identify emerging trends that might affect an organization. The first 90 days of employment is a perfect example of such a thought, where a series of milestones, feedback opportunities, and procedures can collectively shape a new hire’s future productivity and longevity within a workforce. As such, a roadmap for those first crucial three months can help an employer better understand its newest team members and make certain it’s maximizing the process for the employee and employer alike. Once again, a few topics might sound repetitive but it’s important to view them within the bigger picture for clarity’s sake.
The first day is about rolling out the proverbial red carpet, welcoming your new hire to the team, and making them feel wanted. A few personalized welcoming gifts -- maybe a favorite bottle of wine and an organization-branded sweatshirt -- along with a hand-written note from senior management will make the first day a memorable, motivating experience that pays dividends well into the future.
Of course, introductions are also in order, both from your onboarding staff as well the new hire’s team and the office itself. Take full advantage of digital technology by providing them with an electronic packet of the required paperwork ahead of time so tedious but essential benefit and tax forms don’t become a time-consuming hindrance. Also, although orientation paperwork, touring the space, and showing them their already-prepared workstation are important parts of that first day, they should in no way define it.
Instead, center the first day around engagement and interaction, allowing your new hire to immerse themselves in your office environment, soaking in the atmosphere and enjoying time spent with their new teammates. An approach based on healthy socialization not only makes your latest employee feel like a part of the team, but also gives them a thorough, firsthand glimpse of the culture you’ve worked so hard to develop and foster over the years.
Your culture is what defines you, attracts talent to your organization, and inspires your workforce to succeed and excel for a greater common good. A new hire’s first day is a critical introduction to that culture. There’s a reason why 1 in 25 new hires leave after their first day -- a lackluster impression doesn’t bode well for the duration of an enduring relationship.
Focus on fundamentals that demonstrate your enterprise’s long-term goals, what you expect from your new hire, and how they fit into the bigger picture. Such an emphasis on forward-looking initiatives and expectations, along with socialization and engagement with co-workers, will help negate myopic perspectives that leads to those staggering attrition rates. Along the way, define your goals for the new hire in broad terms, leaving granular detail for points later in the onboarding process. Emphasize the following to create an accurate view of the position and its place within the bigger picture:
By the end of a new hire’s first month, they should be familiar with their surroundings and have a basic understanding of their place within the organization, the culture, and what management expects of them. Now it’s time to steepen the learning curve and take a deeper dive, ramping the employee up to become a fully productive member of the team. Keep the following in mind to streamline the process and add needed efficiency to your onboarding:
By the end of the second month, your employee will be almost entirely comfortable within the office environment, have a good understanding of your culture, and be well on their way to becoming fully productive through targeted training. Now it’s time to build on that solid foundation and start segueing into a more normalized routine and series of responsibilities, concentrating on these actions to smooth out any rough spots and place a greater focus on the future:
Although the new hire is most likely not yet fully ramped up, the 90-day mark is a good time to loosen the reins and start increasing responsibilities. The employee should now be more comfortable working independently on more significant, longer-term projects. To make sure the learning process continues, however, employee these actions to push development and foster individual growth:
Obviously, feedback is an essential tool to better understand, analyze, and shape the most effective onboarding strategy possible. In fact, while we’ve discussed the need for immediate and authentic feedback throughout our wide-reaching insights on the onboarding process, a deeper dive into its specific impact on the entire employee experience is well in order.
Individual moments, memories, or even components don't comprise the employee experience. Instead, it involves a bigger picture, encompassing the many facets of an employee's life that converge and, collectively, define their experience.
In other words, personal lives and finances impact performance at work and enthusiasm for an organization's overall goals. Therefore, many components define the employee experience rather than a singularity, and sweeps across the entire scope of a worker’s life, directly impacting their employment.
The seeds of a successful and productive employee experience are born during the ever-important onboarding process that provides the critical first impression a candidate has with a potential employer. As Hyphen has already said and will continue to say, the best tool an organization has in fostering a satisfying employee experience is through insightful employee feedback systems that provide a real-time gauge on satisfaction levels, underlying issues, and particular strengths.
As stated, onboarding provides the crucial first impression a new hire has with an organization. If successful, it creates a lasting positive impact throughout the lifespan of a new employee’s tenure with an organization, as evidenced by:
With escalating attrition costs – regarding both money and time – organizations cannot afford to have a poor onboarding experience given a tight labor market and workforce that is often fickle and much more open to looking elsewhere than in years past.
To maximize fluidity and consistency, employers should view onboarding procedures as an extension of their recruitment process by continuously showing their people that they’re heavily invested in a positive employee experience. Lending a high degree of strategy and consistency to onboarding affords the organization higher rates of engagement and productivity, as well as lower attrition rates, no matter the size of the company or industry it serves.
To better develop onboarding procedures, an effective and comprehensive strategy should include a handful of critical components, including:
Unfortunately, only 20% of companies use these four basic components as pillars within their onboarding strategy. However, incorporating each as an area of particular focus and attention will only reap greater rewards for both employees and employers well into the future.
Accurate employee feedback serves as a cornerstone to a continually improving the employee experience. As it pertains to onboarding, feedback collected throughout the process gives companies the opportunity to search for gaps, inconsistencies, or areas to refine throughout the new hire experience.
By seeking feedback during onboarding, an organization makes new hires feel valued, even during the nascent stages of their employment. Likewise, it's emblematic of an open culture that values honesty and forthrightness and, along the way, increases new hire productivity by enhancing the employee experience from the get-go.
To create an atmosphere that is conducive towards productive and accurate feedback, the onboarding employees should be put at ease and assured that their input into the process is invaluable towards helping the organization improve the experience. Aside from a consistent level of comfort and ease, onboarding feedback procedures should also take the following into account:
Since every organization has its own set of specific needs and expectations, however, it’s critical to include customized survey questions and abide by a feedback schedule that fits an organization’s onboarding process best. Although this in-depth, scheduled process might seem overwhelming at first glance, implementing an automated feedback platform like Hyphen’s makes such systems convenient, quick, effective, and extremely pertinent to the current state of an organization's onboarding.
Of course, the onboarding process includes more than just new employees. To that point, an organization should also collect feedback from other involved, including:
Simply put, an organization should collect feedback from anyone else who played a role in the onboarding experience. Also, HR should also periodically check in with managers and key coworkers to assess how the new employee is performing, and what can be done to enhance their understanding of their job duties. Such measures can only speed up a new hire’s adjustment to the workplace and increase their productivity.
A satisfying employee experience brings out the best in a workforce. To get the very most from that experience, an employer must utilize effective feedback systems that begin at the onboarding process to create, curate, and continue as rich and rewarding of an employee experience as possible. Feedback from onboarding drives a successful set of procedures that will pay lasting dividends for both the workforce and employer by:
Suffice it to say, the onboarding process plays a pivotal role in developing a healthy and satisfying employee experience that carries through the duration of employment with an organization. However, even the best, most effective tools must be presented in a real-world context to understand their true utility and power. A formidable component of the digital environment and insightful mirror held up to the modern employer/employee relationship, Glassdoor provides a useful ecosystem to demonstrate effective feedback in practice.
The vast digital landscape gives employers many tools to leverage to their benefit but often without an instruction manual. Glassdoor is one of those tools, too often thought of as the exclusive domain of jobhunters rather than the critical conduit it becomes between organizations and a challenging job market with just a bit of know-how.
To maximize those unique benefits available to employers through Glassdoor, particularly in the critical onboarding stage of the employee experience, Hyphen has assembled a few insights and best practices to incorporate into your onboarding strategy. Between the people data gathered with an effective feedback system and the impactful spotlight shed on your organization by Glassdoor, these simple tips can help you transform Glassdoor from just another repository of career-oriented opinions to a powerful difference maker in a tight job market.
Starting a new job is cause for celebration. From a new hire’s perspective, it’s the beginning of something new, something better that leads to financial stability and satisfaction. That new hire wants to hit the ground running, impress you, their new employer, and ramp up as quickly as possible. In other words, employees have that new job glow about them during onboarding, filled with excitement, anticipation, and motivation.
Since there’s a fair chance your new hire at least consulted Glassdoor while informing their job search, don’t be shy about asking them to share their feelings about their new job on the popular site. Leverage that new job glow to your benefit, requesting a fair and unbiased review rather than anything artificially slanted. Odds are your newest team member will write a glowing review, especially during onboarding as the bulk of their focus is on performing well and impressing their employer. Reviews submitted by new employees during onboarding can be instrumental in attracting new talent. Word spreads fast, so make sure that word is positive concerning employment with your organization.
Of course, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and even the warm glow of a new job isn’t enough to prompt a positive Glassdoor review. When you receive a negative review, whether during onboarding or any other stage of the employee journey, be proactive in your response and, most importantly, don’t let a negative review or two dissuade you from requesting Glassdoor reviews from your new hires in the first place. When handled properly, the ends absolutely justify the means, even if that includes an occasional negative review.
According to Glassdoor, 62% of site users walk away with a positive perception of an organization when they respond to a negative review. It shows a genuine concern from the employer, an authentic desire to participate in the process, and a critical sense of empathy. An organization that is prompt and balanced in their response will only magnify the positive impact of their efforts.
As we’ve said in the past, feedback is, by far, an employer’s most effective tool in designing an onboarding strategy that evolves with the times and adheres to an individual new hire’s own pace and style of learning. A personalized approach to onboarding is far more likely to generate positive Glassdoor reviews that will attract additional talent to your enterprise. Without feedback, you are essentially creating an onboarding process based purely on intuition and instinct rather than actual, quantitative people data.
Given the importance of onboarding to both Glassdoor reviews as well as the remainder of the employee experience, anything short of a fully-informed strategy is selling your organization drastically short and not providing it the best chance to succeed. Request and collect feedback consistently throughout onboarding, allowing it to guide the process and maximize its impact and effectiveness on your new hires. Such practices will inevitably lead to positive reviews that speak well of your culture, the importance and attention you place in your workers, and develop positive brand recognition that can be instrumental in fully leveraging Glassdoor for future talent. The more reviews you have on Glassdoor, the more relevant your organization becomes in the site’s search engine, increasing your visibility and relevance to Glassdoor users. Feedback is the primary driver behind such dynamics.
As you integrate Glassdoor into your ongoing recruitment efforts, there are a handful of simple tips to keep in mind that will help you get the most from your efforts.
Glassdoor doesn’t have to be something feared by an employer. In fact, it can be a powerful tool in your search for new talent when properly leveraged. Take full advantage of the onboarding process to request reviews from new hires. Likewise, given the growing importance of the gig economy, employ the same techniques for freelancers and contract workers as well. As you’ll see, the relationship between onboarding and feedback also plays a critical role in nurturing a productive and mutually-beneficial relationship between an enterprise and gig employees that is too often overlooked in today’s evolving workforce.
As we alluded, the workforce grows more fluid by the day. People feel increasingly empowered to work a continual series of short-term contracts and one-off tasks as contractors and freelancers rather than shackle themselves to a single employer. Far more entrepreneurial in spirit than traditional career models, the gig economy is already a force to be reckoned with for employers. As more become entranced by its unique benefits, the gig economy will only grow in scope and strength in the future.
As such, employers must understand the specific challenges facing contractors and freelancers to establish effective onboarding procedures that will maximize their impact and quickly make them a valuable part of a team. Given the significant differences between a short-term workforce and full-time employees, simply applying the typical onboarding process to gig employees is a recipe for diminished production and lower satisfaction levels.
Instead, the following best practices can help organizations design and implement an onboarding approach for gig employees that will maximize the experience for the worker and employer alike. As the importance of the gig economy grows, organizations should install the proper framework needed to take full advantage of the many benefits a short-term workforce can bring to an enterprise, particularly in an environment where flexibility and agility are such valued commodities.
As attractive as the gig economy might be -- never being tied down to a single employer and steering one’s own ship --it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Aside from an inherent lack of stability and traditional employee benefits, the gig economy must be nimble to thrive. This notion presents specific challenges for both a worker and organization, each needing to maintain the ability to pivot when needed. Otherwise, both sides of the gig economy equation get mired in the wasted resources, inefficiencies, and lack of productivity that are the antithesis of its guiding ethos in the first place.
Therefore, employers must design onboarding strategies for contractors and freelancers that adhere to the gig economy's most fundamental characteristics. To a contractor, there's absolutely nothing attractive about a long, drawn-out onboarding process that is needlessly thorough and amounts to a tremendous waste of time and effort for both all involved. An endless parade of paperwork, training, introductions, and office tours is more likely to prompt a gig employee to sprint towards the door rather than feel excited for the opportunity.
Of course, that isn't to say that onboarding a gig employee should cut important corners and skip over anything essential to the job. Instead, employers must find that delicate balance between the two, covering everything needed to maximize the chances for success but in a highly efficient, streamlined manner. A handful of straightforward techniques can help organizations find that critical balance, decreasing drop-off rates while still covering all essential topics to make the experience as beneficial as possible.
As an organization streamlines its onboarding for gig employees, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t get caught up in the procedural aspect of the process and use the streamlining itself to test the flow of onboarding procedures, making sure there are no inconsistencies or communication gaps. HR should walk a mile in a contractor’s shoes, so to speak, and make any necessary changes to better the experience from the gig employee’s perspective.
The fleeting, temporary nature of gig employees doesn’t preclude them from being valuable members of the team. In fact, taking the time to make freelancers feel welcome and wanted will only enhance communication and collaboration between team members and, thus, boost overall productivity. While elaborate, in-person introductions are often impossible if a freelancer is working remotely, employers can use video chat applications to briefly introduce a newcomer to their co-workers.
Humans are social creatures by nature and tend to work best within a community framework where other team members and superiors can provide support, answer questions, and offer guidance. If working onsite, always be certain to invite freelancers to lunch, after work social events, and generally treat them like valued members of the team because, after all, that’s precisely what they are.
All good things must come to an end. Such a notion is a well-accepted inevitability in the gig economy and the primary driver behind its fluidity and adaptability. However, if an organization doesn’t take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition from gig employee to in-house responsibility, inefficiencies and latencies could very well rear their ugly head and impact projects, departments, or, in a worst-case scenario, the entire enterprise itself.
To avoid such a predicament, organizations must be deliberate in their preparation for the passing of the proverbial torch, making certain that as the gig job winds down, the next person in line for the project is well-versed in the necessary tasks and up to speed on where the project lies and what needs to be done going forward. The departing freelancer should play a pivotal role in this process as they have a unique, insider perspective on the nature of the work and whatever it requires.
Although similar in form but pared down relative to the offboarding process in a traditional sense, the transition from gig employee to the next team member, whomever that might be, should be discussed with the freelancer from the very moment they accept the job. Harkening back to the need for transparency and clear expectations, an employer should make it clear that part of the contract worker's responsibilities is to help streamline the transition once their contract nears expiration.
Just like every other stage of the employee experience, for full-time employees and gig employees alike, offboarding a contractor or freelancer provides organizations an invaluable opportunity to gain insight on the process that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain. Strategizing based on often faulty assumptions is a full's errand and, given the ever-increasing importance the gig economy holds within organizations and entire industries, basing decisions on anything other than quantifiable people data is like playing with fire. At some point, even the most stable of organizations will get burned.
When designed and implemented effectively, offboarding a freelancer gives an employer the chance to view the experience from the gig employee’s perspective, a point-of-view often lost or unnoticed without a well-organized and meticulous system in place. Specifically, a sound approach to offboarding allows an organization to:
Freelancers might very well have a different opinion on such matters than an exiting full-time employee and, thus, can provide unique insights that are unobtainable elsewhere. Of course, even well-intentioned employers that place great value in such insights will never realize the many benefits they can provide unless a thorough system is in place to gather, analyze, and transform them into actionable data. Once again, decision-making based on conjecture can easily have a negative, cascading effect on an entire organization.
As modern industry continues to move towards a more people-centric approach, the importance of onboarding will only grow with time. Take these insights we’ve provided, establish and maintain a thorough, personalized, and agile onboarding strategy tailored for your organization’s own goals and culture, and rely on the people analytics revealed by Hyphen’s technology-driven, impactful feedback platform to guide the way. People will always be your organization’s most valuable asset and source for innovation. Let Hyphen show you how to develop an approach to onboarding that will always maximize what your people provide you, your stakeholders, and customers.
You have completed our employee onboarding guide. Now, you're all set to successfully onboard your new employees by implementing these tactits and best practices. In doing so, you're sure to improve overall employee engagement and retention!
The Hyphen Solution Will Help You Improve Employee Engagement During Onboarding and Through The Rest of The Employee Experience