How to avoid the common pitfalls for an exceptional onboarding experience
Who is responsible for onboarding? Is it the human resources department or team leaders? It is common for team leaders and managers to see onboarding as someone else’s job. Socialization is a big component of joining a new team and establishing a good fit, so if no one is reaching out, then it comes as no surprise that some employees will never feel fully engaged and choose to depart early. A first-day team lunch may be inadequate in making newcomers feel welcome and that they are joining their new team. Exceptional employee onboarding experiences can pay dividends over the long term where everyone wins. The company gets the best out of their new employees, employees commit and make great contributions to the company: win-win!
Having onboarding programs that are too short
Research has found that it takes an average of at least 12 months for new employees to settle into their new roles, feel like their true self and reach their full potential. It can take much longer for complex leadership and management roles. Many companies prefer to get their new hires through an onboarding program as quickly as possible so they can hit the ground running and start contributing. But this is not the most realistic approach and onboarding should really be seen as more of an ongoing longer journey. This process can be easy with the utilization of an onboarding software. More than the first day, first week and first month in their new roles, management and HR should be scheduling regular check-ins over the first 12 months. Every three months after the initial onboarding is a good timeframe to schedule a touch base with new employees to determine how they are settling into the role, challenges and opportunities and how they can be best supported to perform at their best.
Onboarding programs that miss out on culture
Is a PowerPoint presentation with your vision, mission and core values enough to truly encapsulate what makes your organization the unique culture that it is? New employees want to know if they will be a good fit for the company they just joined. They want to know what the company believes in and how that impacts the way the company operates. More than just naming them, organizations need to provide opportunities that will allow employees to feel your values.
Not inspiring enough
Is your onboarding program truly inspiring? Is it more than just procedures and protocols? Does it welcome new employees into a big family and whole new world full of possibilities to grow? If not, then it’s a good idea to reassess your onboarding program and add some inspirational content. But be careful not to dangle promises in front of people if you can’t back up these later on down the line. This will lead to employees feeling disenchanted later down the track if you fall short on offering opportunities at the interview. For this reason, managers should have conversations about employees’ goals and dreams early on and make a plan for their professional development.
Generic onboarding programs
Unremarkable onboarding programs where new employees do not feel fully prepared for their new position are a big problem. It means the content and structure of the onboarding program is missing some fundamentals and not fulfilling its purpose. To design an effective onboarding program, HR professionals need to prepare a consistent, creative and deeply engaging experience that impresses new employees whilst also equipping them with everything they need to enter into their new role, the culture and the organization in an informed and supported way.
Not measuring effectiveness
Using a systematic approach, organizations can use short online surveys and completion receipts throughout the onboarding process to identify when new employees are failing to connect with the organization. Why lose good staff when you can gather data to help you address issues as they arise? Onboarding data informs the rest of the organization’s performance metrics such as engagement and exit data. HR can bid for greater investments in onboarding programs when they can prove the value of new programs by linking them to business performance and outcomes.
It’s costly in more ways than one
An ineffective onboarding process loses talented people along with financial and time investments of recruiting, hiring and training. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found that staff turnover can be as high as 50% in the first four months for workers on an hourly work basis arrangement and 50% in the first 18 months for senior staff hires. What this means is that retention is low and the onboarding program is dysfunctional. It cannot be emphasized enough that exceptional onboarding experiences lead to better staff retention, performance and business outcomes. Programs should be long term in nature to support new hires through at least the first 12 months with the company, with incremental check-ins throughout this timeframe to assess how everything is going and how the organization can better support them in reaching their potential.
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