It’s a great time to be an employee, tougher so to be an employer.
With unemployment rates continuing to trend into lower percentages, employers increasingly are being challenged to innovate and refine their employee management process.
Paramount in this process is the onboarding of new recruits. Often overlooked and routinely underestimated, a thoughtful and systematic approach to onboarding can help retain employees and narrow your turnover rate.
Thankfully, there is a lot of experience in effective onboarding out there we can lean on – industry standards and best practices to implement into your process. Some tactics may seem familiar or obvious, like meeting a new employee on the first week, but failing to do this every time can be a big failure down the road.
Intentional onboarding will supercharge your new hires.
- Increase employee readiness.
- Assimilate the employee culture.
- Increase HR accountability.
- Prepare new hires for the years to come.
How to Successfully Onboard New Employees and Boost Retention - Best Practices
There is a suite of best practises that can help guide you as you build your onboarding system. The following will help shed insight into how companies are successfully managing the process.
Hire for the Whole Year
You have an immediate need: your business needs to hire and the sooner the better.
Focusing on your immediate hiring needs puts us in a mindset focused on the ‘now’. Often this will carry over into the onboarding of a new hire. How can they help now? Where can they make an immediate impact? How can we get them up to speed quickly?
However, it is rare that you would be hiring for an immediate, short term position. Typically we want employees for the long run. This means bringing them on for your immediate needs as well as preparing them for a future with your company.
In all aspects of the onboarding, envision your new hire in their new position for at least a year. Plan for them to stay and they will be more likely to.
Set SMART Goals with New Hires
When we start out as a new driver, instructors emphasize to “keep your eyes on the road”. This is because where we are looking to in the distance is where we will most naturally navigate to.
Like driving a car, the goals we focus on will nudge us to naturally navigate in their direction.
Setting milestone goals early on will help your new hire see themselves with your company for more than just a day-to-day commitment.
SMART goals use a formula approach to setting your new hire up for success. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
There are countless resources that dive into the topic of SMART goals and how to get the most from them. But the core idea is that these can be revisited, measured and tracked so that success is defined by the goals themselves.
Include Organizational Onboarding
Teach them how to ‘move’ around the office. It can be stressful for a new hire not knowing who does what. There are gatekeepers in every company and knowing who to ask for help will shorten the learning curve. Outlining a clear hierarchy or creating an up-to-date company directory are great tools to help familiarize new hires with the company structure.
Teach them your ‘language’. Every industry has its jargon, yours is no exception. Even more specifically, each business can also have its own terms or language shared among coworkers. Bring new employees into the fold and don’t assume they already know a glossary of industry abbreviations. New hires can be stressed by decoding and catching up with the conversation if they are constantly asking “sorry, I’m new here, what does “ERP” mean?”
Don’t Skip Social Onboarding
This will be an ongoing effort but front-loading some good ol’ fashioned socializing will go a long way with new hires.
Even before you officially hire a candidate, you can get a head start by integrating socializing into the interview process. Companies who adopt a “hire for personality, train for skills” approach will benefit in particular from this. Make it casual, coffee or drinks, and keep the work-talk to a minimum. Use this opportunity to get to know them as a person, outside work life.
Focus on finding an employee who fits the culture first, skills second. This will pay dividends in employee retention and work morale.
There cannot be a disconnect between the onboarding promises and the reality of working in your company. Be honest, even if it’s not great the disconnect will hurt you more in the long run than admitting short-comings upfront.
This will mean following up with goals and milestones, continuing to grow the company culture and refining the onboarding process.
Standardize Your Process
You may be in a sweet spot where your roster is short enough that onboarding new hires is directly handled by you, wingin’ it through each meet and greet. This may be working for you but it won’t be scalable not to mention repeatable by future managers.
“...companies with a standard onboarding process experienced 54% greater new hire productivity, saw 50% greater new hire retention and two-times the level of new hire engagement as compared to those that did not.” – The Path to Productivity, Aberdeen Group
Take the time to record your process, standardize it, and refine it. Most components of a successful onboarding can be templated and used for all new employees.