Why companies must focus on making onboarding an ‘experience’

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First impressions are seminal! This is why making the process of onboarding a unique experience for new recruits is a crucial task for any company.

Onboarding is integrating a new employee into the company and its culture, as well as getting him or her up to speed about the company’s values, policies, history, hierarchy and method of functioning, among other aspects. A Brandon Hall Group study from last year shows that over half of the organizations surveyed (51%) say that most new-hire attrition occurs during the first six months of employment. This just goes on to reiterate how significant the primary interaction of a company and a new employee is. A well-designed, fun and engaging onboarding process can go a long way in strengthening the association between the two, right from the word go, literally!

One of the primary purposes of an induction program is to bolster the decision of a person to join the company. It is the best way to show the new hires how the core values associated with a company are actually being put to practice. To emphasize the importance of the core values, companies must ensure that new hires are exposed to them during the onboarding process itself. Good onboarding programs can do a lot for a company in terms of new hire productivity and retention, if some older as well as more recent studies are anything to go by. According to a 2009 Aberdeen Group study on 21st century onboarding, 54% of organizations with a formal onboarding process said they experience greater new hire productivity and 50% experience greater new hire retention. A 2007 Wynhurst Group study also found that newly hired employees are 58% more likely to be still working at the company three years later, if they had completed a structured onboarding process. More recently, a 2017 CareerBuilder study said that among employers using a structured onboarding program, 42% reported higher productivity and 31% reported lower employee turnover.

Moreover, considering the immense amount of competition in the corporate world, companies need to re-think their onboarding experience. In the recent past, the concept of Employee Experience or EX has fast picked pace as the war for talent is raging. EX is an amalgamation of everything that employees experience throughout their connection with the organization. A strong EX is specifically important during the onboarding process to encourage recruits to stay with the organization.

Onboarding and personal connect

Creating a personal connect with a new employee and establishing comfort levels can add to the efficacy of onboarding programs. Besides, connecting individuals to the rest of the workforce early in their employment with the company also helps in developing a sense of belonging for them. Cohort-based activities/ workshops can prove to be a great way to design good social experiences that enable new employees to interact with their colleagues and peers. They also help to connect new recruits with each other so they can share the knowledge. Adding a personal touch to the onboarding experience is a great way to make an employee feel like they have found a home in the company and leads to developing feelings of inclusion.

Buddy Connect

While talking about a personal connect, there’s another aspect that comes into picture: that of a buddy or mentor connect. Some studies have shown that about 90% of the knowledge in any organization is embedded and synthesized in peoples’ heads. If there is so much expertise and knowledge already present within the organization, it is only natural that it be used to create valuable resources that can be shared with new starters. New recruits can be assigned mentors within the organization itself who could make them feel comfortable, while sharing all the necessary tips and know-how about the company, its process and manner of functioning. The ‘mentor’ or ‘buddy’ could show the new recruit around and offer support and guidance when needed. This responsibility could be undertaken by one person or rotated amongst volunteer staff. In fact, according to a BambooHR study, 56% percent respondents had suggested assignment of an employee buddy or mentor when asked what could be given to new hires so they could quickly begin to prove productive for the organisation.

Onboarding for employees at multiple locations

However, a personal connect (through a face-to-face interaction) is possible only if the entire workforce is situated in one location. What about companies that have their workforce spread across multiple locations? Onboarding new employees at multiple locations is a challenge because it could be tough to have staff to facilitate everything at every location. Here’s how onboarding can work in these cases:

Train the trainer programs: Location managers or trainers could be given training to successfully handle new employee onboarding. They can handle everyday tasks of getting new employees on the same page and ensuring that the transitions are handled properly.

mLearning and Gamification: In addition to training employees at multiple locations, keeping them engaged (at so many locations simultaneously) is perhaps a bigger challenge. This is where mLearning or Mobile Learning comes in. The best part of mLearning is that it lets employees take the training program anytime and from any location. Aspects like gamification also go a long way in generating employee engagement. An onboarding program with an element of gamification allows new recruits to indulge in fun activities, interact and be involved physically or virtually, instead of simply sitting back and taking notes.

In conclusion, onboarding is one of the most pivotal processes in an organization. Incorporating new employees into the organizational culture early is the best way to make them feel they are a valuable part of the team.

What are the onboarding strategies in your company? Tell us about how you welcome new recruits into your company.

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