HR Insights
April 17, 2023

Strong foundations: Employee onboarding best practices

First impressions matter. It’s easy for new employees to get lost in the mix starting at a new company. Whether you’re bringing on new team members remotely, on site, or in a hybrid workplace, here’s your quick guide to onboarding strategies to help people stick.

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Forty-seven percent of HR professionals said retention was their most pressing challenge this year. Employee turnover, in fact, is forecast to be 50–75% higher in coming years than organizations have ever experienced, leaving managers to deal with continual reskilling and costly rehiring efforts.

To halt this vicious cycle, more strategic planning is required to ensure new hires have positive early experiences with your organization. HR will need to ensure those first critical weeks and months on the job are well-structured, welcoming, and meaningful.

Some of the benefits of a good onboarding program include:

Higher engagement and job satisfaction: A good onboarding process ensures employees are as much as 30 times more integrated into the work culture.

Improved on-the-job performance: Research shows organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

Faster time to ramp up: A strategic onboarding process brings new employees up to speed 50% faster, making them better able to contribute to achieving company goals.

Less attrition: As many as 20% of new employees leave their position within 45 days of coming aboard, according to recent HR studies.

Our customers say it best. Hear from the Nashville Hockey Club and JB Poindexter & Co on how their organizations has sped up onboarding while providing a personalized experience.

Poor onboarding practices bring many risks. Certainly, your new employees won’t be equipped for success in your company, nor driven to perform optimally. Even worse, you might lose that bright new talent right out of the gate, forcing you back on the hunt again and increasing overall hiring costs.

Surprisingly, more than one-third of employers don’t have a strong, well-structured onboarding process for new hires. It’s easy to get lost when you’re a new employee at a large organization, with overwhelming information overload and a new org chart full of coworkers to navigate. Now, with the world of work undergoing rapid transformation and many working in a virtual or hybrid environment, the rules for onboarding are changing yet again. New hires may be onboarded in person, remotely, or via a hybrid process.

Here are five employee onboarding best practices for success in today’s talent market:

1. Communicate with impact

Be sure to communicate effectively and regularly with new hires, setting expectations and following through. It’s critical that new hires stay well-informed, connected, and excited about joining the company.

A good communication plan will allow you to plot out all the essential elements: content, tone, frequency, and media channels used for staying in touch.

Onboarding communications should include:

  • Employee benefits and total-reward program information
  • Job expectations, duties, and work schedules
  • Company goals and how they are integral in supporting them
  • Feedback to improve your onboarding efforts
  • Company-wide communications to keep your borderless workforce informed and united

2. Foster a culture of belonging

When a new employee feels they are an essential part of a strong team, they not only tend to perform better, but they also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. This should be a central goal of every onboarding program.

Get them socially connected: Within the first 30 days, provide encouragement and opportunities for your newcomer to create their own coworking groups or networks. According to Harvard Business Review, 70 separate studies show that feeling socially accepted is a deciding factor in a new hire’s success.

3. Empower new hires

Better job performance, improved job satisfaction, and stronger commitment  to their employer all follow when employees feel empowered at work, according to research.

Take steps to empower your new hires by:

  • Equipping them to complete onboarding tasks independently and in their own time
  • Creating self-service portals, which provide easy 24/7 access to all their personal and HR data
  • Reinforcing the alignment of their personal goals with company goals – make them accountable for corporate success.

4. Free up HR

The right technology can enable employees to complete many onboarding tasks themselves. This can lighten the load for HR, dramatically reducing the administrative burden.

Employee onboarding software can help HR managers efficiently onboard employees while providing a consistently engaging experience across their workforce.

Some benefits of self-service onboarding include:

Better form flow: Easily collect compliance-related forms and company policy acknowledgements

Go paperless: Create a paperless onboarding program with validated compliance checks

A standardized system: A structured, tech-driven onboarding process is faster, more compliant, and easy to repeat with every new hire.

5. Make it personal

No two hires are the same, nor should they be treated that way. While a standardized, self-service approach to onboarding documents is recommended, the human element of onboarding should still be tailored to the individual.

Personalizing the process ensures every new employee feels comfortable, empowered, and welcomed. 

Here are some steps you can take:

Tailored training: Adapt specific training and resources to individual employee needs, preferences, and learning styles

Career planning: Ensure managers understand every new hire's unique career goals to help them identify development opportunities and career roadmaps within the organization

Connect the dots: Based on their role and working styles, connect new hires to likeminded team members, mentors, and inspirational company values

A great onboarding program today needs to do more than help newcomers hit the ground running. It needs to educate, inform, and inspire each one as a new member of a forward-driven organization. Whether working from home or on-site, they need to feel like a valued member of your team and excited about their role in driving the organization forward.

By following the latest employee onboarding best practices, you can successfully transform every uncertain newbie into an outstanding and fully engaged employee.

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