We are in an age of instant gratification; with information literally at our fingertips, we are used to getting what we want when we want it. Long gone are the days of waiting for film to be developed or for a returned phone call – our smartphones enable us to take and see pictures immediately and text our friends right after a missed call. Despite these advancements, one thing that has remained relatively untouched is the onboarding process. Although recruiting has certainly evolved into a more modern function, onboarding is much as it’s been 10 and even 20 years ago.
Rather than sticking with the same way of handling onboarding, it is time for organizations to overhaul their processes and provide their new hires with an easy, efficient and rewarding experience. Not only will doing so give the company significant competitive advantage in attracting new talent, but a robust onboarding experience will also help to improve employee retention, reduce turnover and create a stronger employer brand.
Consider the following best practices and strategies to ensure a successful onboarding implementation:
Understand current processes and needs: Before implementing a new solution, it is crucial to identify issues with the current processes and determine what needs to be changed. After all, you should never automate a certain task just because you can – if it’s a process that isn’t working to begin with, automating it will leave you with a more expensive bad process. Taking the time to evaluate how things are currently done and how they can be improved is the first step toward creating a better onboarding function.
Identify areas for improvement: When designing a new onboarding process, it is important to find any unnecessary steps and eliminate them. For instance, the company may require all new hires to fill out a New Hire Data Sheet, even though all of the information is already on another form, simply because that’s how the company has always done it. Rather, it may make more sense to combine forms or, even better, use one form that can capture information and parse that data onto other forms, so the new hire doesn’t have to complete multiple forms on their first day.
Use technology to eliminate unnecessary processes and paperwork: A voided check is no longer needed for payroll to set up direct deposit for an employee, for example, so why still ask for one? Simply including an image of a check on the direct deposit form indicating where the account number and routing number are located should be sufficient to get this information, while eliminating a great deal of paperwork by making this small change. At the same time, technology can be used to export all onboarding forms into the HRIS system, further eliminating the need for excessive paper.
Move beyond filling out forms: The onboarding process should be more than just filling out forms and should last longer than the new hire’s first few days. A good onboarding process should last at the very least through the new hire’s first quarter, while the best onboarding processes last six months to a year. To further improve onboarding success, there should be executive involvement and mentoring program to help the new employee become more acclimated, as well as regular check-ins to ensure the process is going well. In addition, highlighting the advantages of working at the company, such as community involvement, fun activities, opportunities for advancement and training programs, will help them feel included and eager to stay with the company.
Include all stakeholders in the design process: The development of a new onboarding process isn’t limited to the HR department; there are several divisions that need to be involved to ensure a streamlined and compliant process. For instance, the IT department likely has their own processes for ordering hardware and software and should be consulted on any new investment. At the same time, Legal should be involved with any change to the process, such as the use of eSignature when filling out documents. Payroll, Facilities and Security all should be involved and made aware throughout the process as well.
A good onboarding experience is crucial to the success of a new employee. Yet, it is not simply about automation; rather, it should involve the actual socialization of the new hire into the organization. Since a new hire will decide within the first year if they want to stay with the company or not, the ability to deliver an effective and inviting onboarding process is key to improving employee morale and retention. By thinking beyond the paperwork and developing an onboarding process that engages employees from day one, the company can create a world-class onboarding experience that enhances its employer brand and encourages employees to stay for the long term.