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Smooth Transitions: Best Practices for Effective Employee Onboarding

Alexane Lambert

Wed, 19 Jul, 2023

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 3 minutes

Throughout my career, I have experienced numerous onboarding processes and have worked on refining and enhancing many of them – some have been impressive, while others have left much to be desired.

A 2017 Gallup State of the Workforce report discovered that a mere 12% of employees felt their company did an exceptional job of onboarding. The same report revealed that Glassdoor noted an 82% improvement in new hire retention when organisations implemented a robust onboarding process.

The primary message from the report is that prioritising onboarding can significantly aid in winning the ever-increasing competition for top talent.

An effective onboarding process ensures a smooth, enjoyable, and informative transition from accepting a new role to becoming fully proficient and comfortable in the new position.

Let’s explore some fundamental aspects of onboarding.

Who takes charge of onboarding?

Onboarding typically falls under the purview of human resources (HR) or Talent Acquisition in most organisations; in others, the manager may be responsible. Finance and IT must undoubtedly be involved. In some cases, a CEO/Founder/Exec might participate in the process. However, as the company grows larger, this becomes less likely – just imagine Jeff Bezos personally welcoming each new employee! What a world that would be!

Onboarding is a collaborative effort. I believe that the primary responsibility should lie with Talent Acquisition, who should already have established a rapport with the new starter during the interview process. I also think that onboarding should be strongly supported by shared services such as HR, IT, finance, and the rest of the business.

When does onboarding commence and conclude?

Onboarding should start at the initial engagement with your new hire to create a genuine people experience. In general, onboarding begins once a new hire has signed their contract and has a set start date.

Determining when onboarding ends is less clear-cut. For most organisations, it concludes when a new hire passes their probation period; for others, it might last six months or even up to two years.

If the objective is to ensure a seamless transition from a new starter to a fully integrated team member, setting rigid timelines might not be the best approach. Everyone learns and adapts at their pace, so while some employees might assimilate in three months, others could take six months or more.

Where do you begin?

Recognising the need for change is an excellent starting point. If you haven’t already, begin by mapping out all existing onboarding interactions — IT set up, finance adding them to payroll, etc. – and standardise the process.

A standardised onboarding process, no matter how straightforward, will help reduce things slipping through the cracks. How often have you seen someone begin a new job only to wait for their laptop?

Once you’ve delved into the onboarding realm, you may decide you’d like some assistance in developing a more comprehensive process. There is technology available, such as Enboarder and HROnboard, which can automate onboarding processes. Additionally, if you already have an HRIS or ATS like Greenhouse, BambooHR, Hibob, etc., it might include an onboarding module that could save you time and money!

Here are some indispensable tips for a successful onboarding process:

  • Ensure everything is prepared! Desk, IT (laptop, email & system access), office access key, afternoon snack…
  • Inform IT of the new starter when their contract is signed or at a specific time before their start date.
  • Send the new starter a ‘What to expect’ email one to two weeks before their start date. An excellent way to enhance the people experience is to include a personalised message or video from their manager.
  • Collaborate with their manager to develop a tailored onboarding plan.
  • Assign a buddy to help them settle in during the first few weeks.
  • Everyone appreciates feeling like they belong, so provide them with some company swag on day one.

In conclusion, a well-executed onboarding process is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. It fosters a sense of belonging and aids in the smooth integration of new employees into their roles and the company culture. By allocating responsibility to the right teams, having a flexible approach to timelines, and utilising the available technology, you can create an effective and enjoyable onboarding experience for new hires. By implementing these strategies, your organisation will be better equipped to compete in the ever-growing talent market and create a positive and productive work environment.

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