Post-pandemic, there has been an unprecedented surge in employee exits across different industries in India.
According to The Great X report by Michael Page, there are no signs of this trend abating in 2022, as 86% of respondents say they are looking for new career prospects over the next six months.
Employee expectations are rising, and HR leaders are looking to reinvent the employee experience (EX). The employee onboarding process has gained renewed focus.
Employee Onboarding Programs
‘Onboarding’ refers to the process of seamlessly integrating new hires into an organization. It introduces the employees to the company culture, the work environment, and business processes.
It ensures that employees are well acquainted with their team members and can transition into their roles swiftly. Effective onboarding ensures a smooth path to productivity.
Why does Employee Onboarding Matter?
Onboarding is the first touchpoint for a new employee in an organization. Contrary to common understanding, onboarding is not a short-term process limited to the first few weeks. This process of helping new employees acclimate smoothly to the new work environment spans at least three to six months.
It is not limited to completing the new-hire paperwork and compliance. It aims to give employees an understanding of the company culture, values, and mission, to create a sense of connectedness and belonging.
As per Gartner, a well-designed and executed employee onboarding program can increase an employee’s effort by more than 20% and improve employee performance by 15%. It also directly impacts employee retention.
Committed employees are nine times less likely to leave the organization.
Add Value to Your New Joinee Experience
15 Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees
Every enterprise must design a custom onboarding experience specific to its industry vertical and employee expectations. However, the following onboarding practices can help ensure a welcoming experience for new hires.
The 15 best practices for onboarding new employees are as follows:
1. Start Early with a Welcome Kit
A pre-arrival welcome kit sent to the new hire’s residence provides a good beginning for the employee onboarding process.
The welcome kit should include logistical information for the employee’s first day, company information, and contact details for resolving any queries the recruit might have.
The HR team must connect proactively with the new hire to reiterate the information mentioned in the welcome kit and address any concerns.
2. Ensure the Workspace is Ready
A ready and provisioned workspace signals enterprise readiness to support its employees in being productive from day one. It includes assigning workstations, computers, office supplies, business cards, and other assets the employee might need per the role.
A digital HR management system (HRMS) can enable easy asset assignments and access management. It ensures new hires get login credentials to the enterprise system as per their role immediately.
3. Automate Documentation and Compliance
A new hire must sign the employment contract and submit payroll-related forms like EPF, pension scheme, and other HR policies that need acknowledgement.
Digitally signed contracts and documents can expedite compliance and get the paperwork out of the way. It enables the employee to save time and quickly focus on the training and engagement parts of the onboarding activities.
4. Include the Team in Onboarding Process
Be sure to communicate the new hire’s joining date to her teammates.
Automated reminder notifications to team members can help them plan a welcome for the new hire and be available for questions as and when required. It ensures the employee feels valued and comfortable on arrival and sets the tone for team collaboration.
5. Equip the Recruit with Necessary Information
Ensure that the new hire knows the team structure, names, titles, and backgrounds of immediate teammates and managers.
The HR team must provide the contact details like email IDs and extension numbers for easy access. They must also introduce the standard company workflows and online links or forums where employees can find answers to commonly asked queries.
6. Assign a Buddy to a New Joinee
A new employee can feel anxious, doubtful, and uncomfortable in a new environment and may not know the right person to approach for mundane office-related queries.
To assuage these feelings, you can allocate a buddy to every recruit. A buddy should be a team member rather than a manager. The buddy can introduce the new hire to the rest of the teammates.
7. Design a Reassuring Orientation Experience
Orientation is the initial part of the onboarding process that familiarizes the new hire with the work environment and fellow teammates.
Ensure a welcoming introductory presentation covering the company’s profile, mission, vision, and policies. You can arrange for a tour of the facilities that show the new hires where they can find supplies, copy machines, the cafeteria, restrooms, entries, exits, etc. You can inspire by others or survey your other employees for the best onboarding practices.
8. Communicate a ‘People First’ Culture
Onboarding is the first chance organizations have to demonstrate their culture to their employees. Leaders must show up at onboarding to interact with new hires and communicate company values and let them know how these values drive their daily decision-making.
Though it is impossible to describe the culture entirely through a single new-hire orientation event, it helps elevate this aspect to its rightful place of importance. Exceptional onboarding processes also enable experiential learning through decision-making in real-life scenarios.
9. Build a Networking Plan for New Hires
The HR team can facilitate networking for new hires by scheduling one-on-one calls with senior executives, peers, and other recruits. Cross-functional networking can help new hires interpret the broader organizational culture and build lasting positive relationships.
According to a September 2020 Gartner survey of 3,000 employees, 46% said they interacted with coworkers less often since working remotely. A well-defined networking plan fosters a sense of connectedness among the newly recruited employees.
10. Train Managers to be Coaches
According to a 2019 report by Gallup Inc, when managers take an active role in onboarding, new hires are 3.4 times likelier to agree that their onboarding process was exceptional.
Managers must execute personalized onboarding plans based on an employee’s role and competencies rather than seeing onboarding as a checklist of action items to be completed. Managers must train to provide meaningful coaching conversations with new hires during their initial projects.
11. Deliver on your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
The onboarding process is the first time employees can judge if the organization fulfils the promises made while handing the job offer. It includes financial compensation and benefits, the work environment, growth opportunities, and the workplace culture.
As the initial months pass by, employees tend to disengage if they feel that the company does not deliver on its EVP. On the other hand, if the initial few months provide a flexible work environment and multiple opportunities to train and grow, employees build a deep connection with the organization.
12. Walkthrough the Career Progression Path and OKRs
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are goal-setting tools that provide the new hire with a clear direction and criteria for measuring performance. Ensure the recruit becomes familiar with the performance review process and career progression opportunities.
You can arrange for a walkthrough with sample documents and OKRs. It enables the recruit to work towards achieving the OKRs from day one and avoid any surprises during the performance review process. It also helps managers assess the new hire’s comfort levels and preferences in goal-setting.
13. Build Employee Confidence with a Quick Win
Provide the new hire with clear goals and instructions for the first assignment. The manager can arrange a one-on-one meeting to review the steps and clarify queries. The first assignment should be short-term and aligned with the recruits’ strengths. It enables the employee to gain confidence and build credibility with the team.
14. Leverage Data Analytics
Collect feedback at each step of onboarding new employees through surveys and link this data to business outcomes and employee behaviour. For example, you can analyze the feedback data for employees who exit within one year of joining to understand its impact.
You can also study the data for employees who are top performers to understand which factors are creating a positive impact on their performance. These insights can also feed back into the new-hire process.
15. Utilize Personalized Training Methodologies
Along with initial orientation and compliance training programs, journey-based training programs help the new hire continually learn and improve over the first year at work.
Based on the complexity of the role, you can include job shadowing, experiential training, and certification exams in the customized training plans.
You can request feedback or conduct onboarding survey for new joiners with a gap of 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days to ensure everything is going on track.
Remote working is commonplace and here to stay. However, remote onboarding presents challenges for new hires to connect with the organization. But, you can ace virtual onboarding processes too with dedication and smart strategies.
Per a recent survey by Principles at the 2021 HR Tech conference, 94% of HR professionals revealed they have onboarded new employees during the pandemic. Further, they stated that these employees have only interacted with their colleagues virtually. Of these, 31% said that new hires struggle to connect satisfactorily with their coworkers.
HR leaders and managers must be aware of these disconnects in remote teams. They must leverage automation tools and communication strategies to help employees build better relationships in the hybrid workspace.