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Ensure a Positive Candidate Experience When Hiring Contingent Talent Remotely

As digitization, coupled with the global pandemic, propels contingent hiring online and with more individuals relying on employer reviewer sites to evaluate businesses, delivering a positive[...]

March 10, 2021

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It’s Probably Time to Revisit Your Onboarding Process

Picture this: it’s the first day of your new job. You’re excited, hopeful, and maybe a bit jittery - and it’s not from the coffee. After filling out the usual HR paperwork in what seems like an endless stream of forms, you’re finally ready to get the ball rolling. You spend most of the day shaking hands and meeting colleagues before heading back to your desk to…to…to do what, exactly? There’s not really anyone around to help you get acclimated to your new position. You’re not sure what’s expected of you, and you’re starting to wonder if your role even matters.

These are the glaringly obvious signs of a bad onboarding strategy, though the effects might not always be so immediate. Usually, they’re far more insidious, playing out subtly and gradually over the course of a few weeks or months. A bad onboarding program is a quiet enemy; most organizations don’t notice something’s up until new employees start dropping like flies. Statistics show that roughly 33% of new hires start looking for a new job within the first six months. When the cost of employee turnover is two to three times the amount of the employee’s salary, the enemy is not so quiet anymore.

What Does an Effective Onboarding Program Look Like to You?

At the beginning of this year, Kronos conducted a study that included more than 350 HR leaders across a variety of industries and organizations. The study looked at the alignment between onboarding objectives, processes, and results:

  • The majority (76%) of HR leaders believe that their onboarding programs are underutilized. More than half (57%) believe that there isn’t enough human bandwidth to improve new hire programs. Automation could really help in this area, as 36% of respondents feel their current technology isn’t sufficient at freeing up time.
  • About 60% of respondents reported that the top objective of onboarding is to integrate employees into the company culture, though only 30% of programs actually focus on this.
  • HR scored paperwork and resource orientation as top priorities, with workstation/building tours and self-service new hire forms tying for the lead at 62%. Only a meager percentage of organizations focus on important long-term strategies like peer mentoring (32%) and training needs assessments (37%).
  • Only 10% of organizations view onboarding as a year-long or ongoing strategy, while 37% believe it takes between a few hours to one week. More than half (55%) of the organizations surveyed don’t measure the effectiveness of their onboarding programs.

Obviously, the study was a bit of a wake-up call, and quite an insightful one. We can now see that some of the biggest hurdles to improving employee onboarding are technology, long-term strategy development, and program analysis. Better technology can reduce paperwork and help HR managers focus on the culture side of onboarding, but only if they regularly assess and adjust their plans.

How to Spot a Bad Onboarding Process

The signs of a failing onboarding process aren’t overtly apparent, which is why improving them isn’t always at the top of HR’s list. But there are signs, there are signs indeed, and HR leaders should keep an eye out for them:

It’s Disorganized

If your plan is all over the place, or worse - nonexistent, that needs to change, pronto. Your plan should include specific training goals for each type of employee or position. With this information, you can create milestones and metrics for measuring ROI. It’s important to note that processes should not be the same across the board. You need to tailor these programs so employees don’t get inundated with irrelevant information.

It’s Laden with Paperwork

Listen, I know there’s a lot of paperwork involved with new hires. It’s HR, after all. But paperwork shouldn’t be the only thing a new employee does during new hire training. Don’t bore them to death! The most innovative onboarding programs use automation to get the tedious logistical stuff out of the way before the new hire even walks in the door. For example, Fog Creek, a project management software company, uses Trello for their onboarding portal, complete with task cards, timelines, FAQs, and an introduction to the company culture. New hires spend their first day really getting to know their role and teammates, not doing paperwork alone at a desk.

It’s Short

It might seem like a short onboarding process is better for productivity, but it’s not. In fact, according to Click Boarding, longer onboarding programs allow employees to achieve full proficiency 34% faster than shorter ones. Furthermore, it can take up to a year or more for employees to feel truly comfortable in their roles. Without proper and ongoing support, like mentorship and performance measurement, employees may feel abandoned during their adjustment period. The solution to this lies in your newly-crafted onboarding strategy. There should be distinct phases and milestones based on employee roles, with regular performance reviews to adjust trajectories as necessary.

It’s Uninspiring

It’s hard for employees to get excited about onboarding when it’s just like every other process they’ve encountered. I mean, would you be excited to fill out forms, watch a few videos, then be shuffled around the office by an indifferent receptionist? I doubt it. It’s 2018 - throw out those awful '90s HR videos and focus on making onboarding fun and unique. Focus on what makes your company culture great and get your new hires hyped to be a part of it. Icebreaker games, buddy systems, free swag, and encouraging employees explore other departments are just a few of the ways top companies make onboarding fun.

It’s Not Helpful

New hires want to know how their roles fit into the overall goals of the company. Task lists, while helpful, do nothing to explain the big picture. Recruiters do a lot to sell the position during the early stages of the pipeline, but once the employee is hired, managers often forget to close the sale. If you assign a mentor to your new hire (hint: this is a good idea), be sure they are helping employees understand not just their individual responsibilities, but how those duties impact company decisions and performance.

Give New Hires Something to Rave About

Onboarding is more than orientation and paperwork. It’s a long term-strategy that, if done effectively, can boost employee retention rates, productivity, and morale. Unfortunately, the signs of a bad onboarding process are often missed or ignored. And with the growing millennial workforce, voluntary turnover is happening more often and earlier on. We know the need is there. HR leaders know the need is there. Now it’s time to do something about it.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley thought leader, speaker, motivator, and the visionary behind the groundbreaking Crowdstaffing ecosystem. Blending vision, technology, and business skills, he is transforming the talent acquisition landscape and the very nature of work. Prior to launching Crowdstaffing, Sunil honed his skills and experience as a business leader for companies such as IBM, EMC, and Symantec. "We need to think exponentially to mindfully architect the future of humanity, civilization, and work. When we collaborate and work together, everyone prospers."
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