How to optimise your onboarding for success

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When you’ve hired someone new onto your team, it’s essential to optimise your onboarding for successful integration. This will translate into happy, engaged and productive new hires. And while that might seem obvious, studies show it’s often not accomplished.

According to Gallup research, only 12% of employees in the US say their organisation does a good job of onboarding. And one in five say the onboarding was poor when they joined their last company. Even worse, sometimes it was completely missed out.

Similarly, in a 2022 survey of over 1,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, 21% thought they might leave their new job because of a poor onboarding process.

At HR GO, if our clients don’t have a proper onboarding process, we’re not surprised their quit rate is high. The fact is, if new employees don’t feel particularly engaged by your company values and goals, they are less likely to turn into loyal, enthusiastic long-term employees.

To optimise your onboarding: include these elements

New employees need to know their work will be valued, and how their role fits into the company. These elements will help that feeling of contributing and truly belonging:

  • Create a meaningful impression by clearly communicating your company’s core values and culture. This will help them connect emotionally with your company – and vice versa.
  • Help them feel part of the team by connecting them to other team members.
  • Have a clear plan to get them up to speed on what’s expected of them, and how things are done.
  • Let them know how their role adds value for your company. This will reinforce their desire to do their best for your company.
  • Show them the part their role plays in the wider mission and purpose of the company they’re joining.

Always onboard in-person if you can

Virtual onboarding became the norm when we shifted to remote working. Remote employee communication has worked well for many companies. And we’ve previously shared tips on how to make new starters feel welcome remotely.

But as more and more businesses gather their people in-person again, the question is how effective virtual onboarding can be. It’s definitely more of a challenge for the new recruit to feel connected to your company. And even harder for them to connect to your work culture over a screen.

To properly optimise your onboarding, at least part of the process should take place in person. That’s even if interviews have been remote and the role will again be mostly remote.

That way, new starters get a more thorough understanding of the company and their team right at the beginning. This puts them in a much stronger position.

At HR GO, we recently brought our onboarding process back to in-person. We’ve launched a dedicated ‘Onboarding Academy’ for new starters which takes place over three days. To optimise onboarding, we give our new staff a clear, consistent, positive message of our brand, values, vision, and culture. Plus, we pack the time with useful group discussions and live training with HR GO experts.

New recruits also get to experience our digital tools and platforms at the outset. This gives them confidence when they’re using them ‘for real’ back in work.

Encouraging connections is key

A crucial element of helping integrate new employees into your business and culture is helping them make connections. Feeling connected to their new team makes new hires feel more positive about their first few days and weeks at work.

That includes meeting other team members and forming ties with other new starters. In a nutshell, making new friends at work. This might be through assigning peer mentors or buddies. We also recommend setting up (as well as encouraging) ongoing chances to network and go to team building events.

The key is to include some unstructured time in the onboarding process. That way, new hires can start to get to know each other and form connections.

At the HR GO Onboarding Academy, we give people plenty of chances to get to know each other. They build cross-team relationships to stand them in good stead during their careers at the company.

If you’re restricted to remote onboarding, remember you will need to be more creative about helping people build connections. For example, with scheduled online ‘coffee breaks’ together.

Excellent onboarding is welcoming

It’s clear that a decent in-person onboarding process benefits everyone: the employee and the company. Conversely, poorly orchestrated onboarding results in new employee stress, disappointment and the urge to quit.

Successful onboarding makes people feel excited about starting at your company, and enthusiastic about being part of the team. Don’t waste the chance to make an outstanding impression that will hopefully stay with them for years to come.

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