Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Sinking the Ship?

July 14, 2015 | Posted by Libby Black | Training

First impressions are powerful. Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, your brain makes thousands of observations and assumptions that will color future associations. It’s not so different when an employee starts at a new company.

The onboarding process is an organization’s chance to demonstrate to new hires that the promises of the recruitment phase were on target. It’s a chance to create positive feelings about the company and job responsibilities and increase competence in performing those responsibilities. Every employee goes through some form of onboarding, but without some planning and forethought, a clumsy process can create inefficiency, losses in productivity and confusion. No one wants to make a bad first impression.

And an inefficient onboarding process wastes money. Employees take longer to begin actively contributing. The cost from employee turnover increases, and there the cost of manually completing steps that could be automated to consider.

Below are a few signs of trouble on the horizon.

1. No Standard Process

Without some kind of standard model for onboarding, the time to orient new people can drag out or miss important steps entirely. In addition, manually onboarding people misses out on the advantages of technology and managing the onboarding process. Standardized web or portal-based onboarding systems can create efficiencies such as minimizing travel expenses and more targeted training. And let’s not overlook the importance of providing clear expectations on employees’ ability to do their job well.

2. Unorganized Content

It’s a lot like a messy room. If onboarding content and materials aren’t organized, a lot of time is wasted looking for them or recreating them. When information exists but is not structured in a logical, intelligent way, then an organization is not getting the most value out of that content. By putting that information; which can include things like mission statements, explanations of organizational structure, or career planning; together it can be easily accessed by new hires and current employees as well. From a career development standpoint this is valuable information to both groups.

3. Unrecognized Changes in the Workforce

Change happens. Mergers, acquisitions, rapid recruiting and hiring: all of these and more can require shifts in how onboarding is best handled. In our recent post, “Onboarding: Orienting Employees to a Workplace in Flux” we discussed the changing demographics of today’s workforce and the interest in experience, a dynamic work environment and flexibility. Emphasizing aspects of the organization that are most attractive to employees as well as the ability to accommodate larger hire groups and address new organizational structures are ways companies can engender loyalty and reduce confusion.

4. Programs and Initiatives Not Coordinated with the Onboarding Effort

Some companies will invest heavily in recruiting top talent, but then more or less leave said recruits to fend for themselves once the job begins. Or there may be performance incentives that aren’t properly explained to new hires. By not coordinating efforts, companies miss out on the full return on their investments.

Aspects of Successful Onboarding

“A good onboarding process is really an immersion into the company, into the culture and then into the role that the new hire will be filling,” shares Joseph Bastian, Learning and Performance Consultant for Alteris Group.

A blended employee orientation approach may start with an orientation portal. It could include individual logins for customizable self-study where employees can learn about the culture and history of the company and complete forms. On-site orientations with the entire hire group provide more immersion. Later employees begin meeting key contacts in the group they will be working with as well as job specific information. There are many options for optimizing the onboarding experience, but the first step is realizing how important the process can be for the organizations as a whole. Defining the process and carrying it out successfully can provide a big return on investment.

“You have to plan,” Bastian shares. “If you’ve got all these new employees and new initiatives and don’t’ have a plan in place for how you are going to bring them into the fold, you won’t get the results you’re working toward.”