4 tips for improving the employee onboarding process

Extending your support for recent hires beyond their first month of employment can improve your organization’s retention rate.

Onboarding new employees is a long-term project, not a one-off task. Extending your support for recent hires beyond their first month of employment can improve your organization's retention rate.

Here are four tips for optimizing your company's onboarding strategy:

1. Recognize that onboarding and orientation serve different functions

Orientation is one time-time event, the purpose of which is to familiarize new employees with your organization's building, workstations and personnel. This time is also well-spent bringing new hires up to speed about the current projects they will be involved with. It's best to keep the orientation process short and digestible. If you present fresh hires with a flood of information, they aren't likely to retain much of it.

Onboarding is a drawn-out process that takes employees from a minimal level of functionality to an adept level of experience with your organization's workflows and business processes. Depending on the type of business, onboarding employees may take weeks or months to ramp up to full productivity. This is also the time when the risk of turnover is highest. In fact, Fast Company reported that more than 40 percent of turnover occurs within the first month of employment.

2. Invest in the employee experience

All too often, hiring managers only look at the onboarding process from their own perspective. They concern themselves with getting new hires up to speed as quickly as possible so that productivity can reach its maximum potential. From this point of view, employees are in need of instruction and direction in order to fit better within the organizational structure.

By reversing the perspective, and looking for ways to support new hires as they grow into their roles, organizations can reduce costly turnover rates. Research published in the Harvard Business Review revealed that employers who invest in employee experience outperform those that don't. Specifically, researcher and author Jacob Morgan found that companies investing in employee experience gain 2.8 times the revenue per employee as companies that don't utilize this strategy.

"In order to ensure the successful onboarding of a new employee, face time is crucial," says Katie Hackney, Division Director for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Columbus. "New employees often do not feel comfortable expressing any concerns right away so it is the manager's job to really invest the time required to allow the employee to feel comfortable expressing his or her opinion."

Extending the onboarding process helps employees to become more productive and less stressed.

3. Have a structured plan for each role

If your employee onboarding process is haphazard and unorganized, new hires will take this as a sign to run for the hills. Your plan for onboarding is a reflection of your organization's larger business plan. Disorganization on a small scale indicates a systemic problem.

Each department within your organization should have a unique onboarding plan that supports incoming employees as they get their bearings. To ensure the approach is effective, consider involving some of your current employees in the planning stages. After all, they know better than anyone else what it's like to work in the department. Their input will be invaluable as you strive to support new hires.

4. Solicit feedback and follow up throughout the year

One of the best ways to determine the efficacy of your new hiring plan is to ask for feedback from new hires. Set milestones for surveying recent hires about their experience with the company so far. Are there areas that remain opaque to them, or have they assimilated well with the other employees? Combine this feedback with other HR metrics to get a complete picture.

Once employees have ramped up to full productivity and have begun to make significant contributions to projects, it doesn't mean the onboarding process has ended. Throughout an employee's first year with your organization, check in with them to see how they're doing and if they need additional support.

Building an effective onboarding process takes time and experience. When you start from a pool of highly qualified talent, you'll see more opportunities for success. Visit our resource center for more tips.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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