7 Essential Onboarding Best Practices
Onboarding is as essential to the hiring process as your sourcing, application, and interview processes are. In fact, in some ways, onboarding is more important: Many companies can hire the best person in the candidate pool, but if they can’t figure out how to make that person fit their job, it doesn’t matter how good the candidate is or how quickly the candidate was hired.
After your candidate has accepted the job offer, it is important to remember that there are several ways you can ease their transition into your organization and bring out the great employee you need:
1. Develop a Formal Program
Despite how important onboarding is, 32 percent of companies don’t have formal onboarding programs. Even if you’re a small company that can’t afford all the bells and whistles or you think the talent you’re bringing in is so special they don’t need onboarding, you need to get a formal onboarding program in place. You probably don’t wing it during the application or interview process – so why wing it when it comes to onboarding?
2. Start Onboarding Before Day One
The best way to get through paperwork is to just do it. It’s not fun, but it has to get done.
If you want to have all the good parts of an employee’s first day without the bad, you’ll want to start filing the new hire’s paperwork before the first day. You can do this digitally thanks to modern onboarding software that allows new hires to fill out their paperwork in the cloud.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
One of the best ways to ensure your new hire is a great fit for their new job is to keep in constant communication with them. Sixty-eight percent of employees believe the frequency of communication they get in the workplace directly impacts their job satisfaction. Take this fact to heart with your onboarding – don’t just leave an employee alone at their desk during the first few days.
4. Track Performance
Much of my advice goes toward making the new hire as comfortable as possible, because when they new hire is engaged at work, they’re more productive.
That being said, there are some things companies should do during the onboarding process that don’t directly involve easing the new hire’s transition. For example, every company should begin tracking a new hire’s performance as soon as possible. This isn’t so you can have them compete against everyone else at that company, but so you can measure the effectiveness of your onboarding program. When you have performance data from the beginning of a new hire’s tenure, you can see whether or not your onboarding program is boosting company performance overall.
Great onboarding can increase company performance by 11 percent annually, so start tracking new hire performance to make sure that you’re getting this benefit of onboarding.
5. Set Solid Goals
“Get better at your job” isn’t a solid goal. If you really want your employees to reach their full potential as quickly as possible, you need to give them something to work up to.
You can’t start a new employee on a big, complicated project right away. You need to focus on the basics of the new hire’s role before moving them outside of their comfort zone. It’s unfortunate that 60 percent of companies don’t set any sort of onboarding milestones, because having them in place can make a big difference.
6. Take the Long View
You’re eager to get your latest hire up and running at full speed, but there’s a lot of time between when your new hire starts working for you and when they’re likely to reach their maximum output. Studies show that employees can take an average of 26+ weeks to reach full productivity. So, when creating your onboarding plan, don’t just plan for the first day, week, or month – have something in place for the first half of the year at least.
7. Scrutinizing and Revitalize
A great onboarding program doesn’t remain great forever. As is the case with interviewing and sourcing practices, you have to look into your onboarding program every once in a while to make sure it is still delivering the results you need.
In 2014, 71 percent of HR professionals said they updated their onboarding programs, with 86 percent of those companies making moderate to major updates. Take a step back every once in a while and tweak your onboarding – it’s the only way to make sure the program stays relevant and effective.
Implementing a great onboarding program isn’t as hard as you might think, but it definitely comes with its own set of goals and practices. The more of these best practices you take to heart, the better your onboarding will be. The better your onboarding, the more engaged, productive, and fulfilled your employees will be.