5 Reasons to Have a Standout Onboarding Program

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Trish Young

October 6, 2021

    The first day at a new job is exciting. Meeting the new team, understanding roles, and even getting a new desk can make or break employer attrition rates. Having a robust onboarding program can be the difference in an employee leaving after less than a year or staying through retirement. Employee onboarding is so important that businesses spend millions of dollars each year creating effective onboarding programs. But what is onboarding, how is it different than employee orientation, and why does it matter?

    Onboarding vs. Orientation

    Employee orientation can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Orientation programs focus on introducing the company to the newly recruited employees. It provides various details of the company such as company policies, procedures, culture, working environment, and health and safety measures. Filling out I-9 forms, getting ID badges, and providing contact information are all examples of orientation goals.

    Employee onboarding, on the other hand, is a strategic process of bringing a new employee to the organization and providing information, training, mentoring, and coaching throughout the transition. The onboarding process starts at the acceptance of an offer and can continue for three, six, or even twelve months. The main objectives for employee onboarding are:

    1. Facilitate the new employee’s ability to contribute to the new role
    2. Increase the new employee’s comfort level in the new role
    3. Reinforce his/her decision to stay within the company
    4. Enhance productivity
    5. Encourage commitment and employee engagement

    Why is onboarding important?

    Onboarding is a prime opportunity for employers to win the hearts and minds of new employees. While good onboarding programs can facilitate new employees staying engaged, a poor onboarding experience can cause disillusionment with new hires, contribute to high turnover rates, and shorter employment terms. Studies have shown that high quality onboarding programs see:

    • 82% improvement in new hire retention
    • 70% improvement in productivity
    • 69% of employees likely to stay with a company for at least three years
    • Increase in employee efficiency months earlier compared to employees with short or non-existent onboarding programs

    A good onboarding experience leads to employee engagement. Higher employee engagement correlates directly to lower turnover rates. Higher turnover rates cost time, money, potential team burnout, and other negative effects on the company. The importance of a good onboarding program has never been clearer.

    Creating an effective onboarding plan can be accomplished in 4 simple steps.

    Step 1: Planning

    Fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s an adage we’ve all heard before, but in the case of onboarding, it is especially important. Having a solid onboarding plan can make or break an entire program. By developing a plan and establishing objectives employers can determine what new hires will need to accomplish their jobs, what types of training will best fit the culture, and how you can get the best return for your onboarding program.

    Step 2: New Hire Training

    Once you select the objectives of the onboarding program, the next step is choosing the right type of training. There are many different types of training programs that could be implemented, such as: classroom training, e-learning, mobile learning, job shadowing, and blended training. Each of these types of training has its strengths and weaknesses. Not every new hire will need every variation of training, and some new hires will need different learning methods than others. It is important to have several different types of training available to fit each individual’s needs.

    Step 3: Slow It Down

    One of the common mistakes employers make when creating their onboarding programs is moving through the material too quickly. Rushing new hires through the onboarding and training process can mean making costly mistakes down the road. Onboarding programs can take weeks or months and should be as thorough as possible. Speeding up the onboarding process could affect retention rates if the program is lacking in depth and substance.

    Step 4: Follow Up and Support

    Once new hires have gone through orientation and training, the last step in creating a good onboarding program is to provide follow-up and support. New hires need nurturing and support throughout their first year at an organization. This support is required to help new employees develop skills more quickly, adapt to their roles, and monitor their performance. Organizations can sometimes be too focused on work and productivity and miss important new hire check-ins. By creating a guide to properly follow up and provide support for new hires an organization can improve its attrition and retention rates.

    Employee onboarding is important, and a good onboarding program can make or break an employer’s retention rates. After all the work recruiting and hiring the right person, the last thing a company wants is to have their rockstar hire leave after less than a year. Often, however, this is what happens when employers do not invest in the resources and time needed to create a robust onboarding program. When employers provide these resources, employees stay longer, are happier at their jobs, and are more productive team members.

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