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Creating a Top-Notch Onboarding Experience: Tips for Employers

Sameera Khan

Last Updated: 28 February 2023

In this article:

There have been many discussions on employee experience and how to enhance it. While it is no longer a mystery, it certainly can be tricky.

An employee's journey begins with onboarding. It creates the first impression and lays the foundation for their tenure. Many employees leave during the first six months of joining due to poor onboarding experience. Such exits cost businesses up to 300% of the employee's salary.

So what does the onboarding experience involve? Let's find out. 

What is the onboarding experience?

Your employee's onboarding experience begins when they sign the offer letter until they settle down in your company. The period usually lasts 90 days. That is how long it takes for your employees to judge if they have landed in the right place.

HR leaders ought to create a positive onboarding experience for the employees. Here's why.

Creating a positive onboarding experience for new employees is critical. Here's why.

1. Employees stay longer

Over 50% of employees with poor onboarding experience leave within the first year of joining. You can improve the new hire retention rate by 50% by creating the best onboarding experience for new joiners. Employees stay when they are correctly onboarded and clearly informed about their roles.

2. Higher engagement rates

An inclusive employee onboarding experience helps the new hire understand your company's policies and how they fit in. Such employees are more engaged, efficient, and up to 50% more productive.

3. Quicker alignment with your business goals

A positive onboarding experience helps your employees understand their roles and your business more quickly. Such hires can better align their personal and business goals and find a way to grow together.

4. Better adaptation of company culture

While 62% of HR leaders consider the onboarding experience a priority for cultural integration, only 30%  include it in the actual process. Helping new employees settle into your company's culture positively impacts their performance and retention in the long term. 

New employees need proper guidance for a smooth transition from their previous organizational culture to the new one. In the absence of such support, the new employees usually leave within the first six to nine months of joining, thus incurring a loss for your organization.

The onboarding process is a three-step procedure.

Stages of Onboarding Experience

1. Pre-boarding

This stage begins when a candidate accepts your job offer or signs the offer letter. It ends on their first day of joining.

This is a crucial transitory phase. Many employees relocate, struggle with their notice periods with their previous employer, and make other plans for arrival at their new workplaces. They need the complete support of the HR leaders to make the switch smooth.

2. Day 1 and beyond

Documentation, introduction, training sessions, signing up for payroll and allocating their workstations and equipment mark the first day at their new jobs. Well-defined processes and trained managers can help smoothen the creases in the onboarding process.

3. Continual learning and growth

Your new employee's responsibilities gradually increase and get pulled into the daily business functions. Then begins their continued learning and growth. This usually happens after a month of joining or when the employee feels confident enough to operate alone. This is when you begin monitoring their performance and growth curve.

Creating the best onboarding experience is an art and a science. The following best practices can help you do it effortlessly.

Best onboarding experience practices for HR leaders

1. Personalization

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to onboarding employees. Customizing your onboarding modules helps new employees adapt to the new place faster. 75% of employees consider documentation, company policies, and familiarization with office premises as the most crucial part of onboarding.

You can go the extra mile to personalize the onboarding process. Here are a few tricks:

  • A mentorship program to handhold your new employees
  • Engaging content for onboarding material
    The Coffee Lover Kit: Send the coffee-loving new employee a kit that shows you know how much they like the beverage. You can do that with a bag of premium coffee beans, a branded mug, or a French press.

The Snack Attack Kit: Make their first day more enjoyable with a kit that includes their favorite snacks and treats. 

The Home Office Starter Kit: A branded coffee mug, notebook, pen, or custom mouse pad can help your new hires set up their home office in style and make them think of the company while they work. It helps generate a sense of belonging to the organization.

The Branded Merchandise Kit: Branded t-shirts, caps, or water bottles show the new hires that they're part of the team from day one. You can also send it to them before officially joining as a welcome kit to show them that they belong.

The Personal Development Kit: A kit with a book on leadership, a journal, and a personalized goal-setting worksheet goes a long way in showing that the organization cares about its professional growth.

  • Team bonding events
  • A first-day preview before joining to tell the employee what it will be like at work
  • HR monitoring to check on them regularly if they are facing any issues
  • Personal goals for them for each month, like a 30-60-90-day plan

2. Effective communication

Communication drives your employee's onboarding process to fruition. You can take some measures for effective communication:

  • Convey your expectations first so your employees can prepare themselves.
  • Use individual modules to onboard the staff into their departments. For example, you don't need to share the sales incentive structure with the product manager.
  • Create engaging content that grabs the attention of new employees. Take cues from social media and try and use more interactive videos and pictures in your training modules.

3. Integration into the company culture

Mission, vision, values, and ethics make up your company's culture. Naturally, you would want the new hires to relate to and imbibe these in their daily functioning. You can take a few steps to integrate cultural aspects into the onboarding procedure.

  • Begin before the start date. Communicate with new hires before they join your company. Ensure all communication is professional and customized. You can also send them the documentation beforehand to save them time on Day 1.
  • Convey your company's mission, vision, and values. Besides sharing these in writing, take them through these company values personally. Watch out for any gaps in understanding. Tell them why the mission, vision, values, and ethics exist and how they can be applied to your daily business functions. Give them easy access to handbooks and other material explaining these.
  • Make them feel included. Team outings and personalized introductory sessions are some tricks of the trade. You can also hold one-on-one sessions to show them how their work contributes to business growth.

4. Technology

Technology plays a critical role in onboarding, especially when you want to reach candidates remotely or allow them to complete the documentation online before joining. 

You can also use pre-recorded or customized interactive online sessions to welcome new hires. This includes personalized training modules to get them accustomed to your business functions.

You also have the option of HRMS or onboarding software to help you streamline the process and record their initial progress.

The costly consequences of a poor onboarding experience

Over one-third of companies don't have a streamlined onboarding process. This impacts the employee experience and retention. 16% of HR leaders believe it affects company productivity, 14% state it causes inefficiencies at work, and 12% consider it to be the reason behind a higher employee turnover.

Also, here are some factors that ruin the onboarding experience for an employee.

1. Lack of communication

Insufficient or ineffective communication leads to a poor onboarding experience. This becomes a bigger challenge when employees are onboarded virtually.

Employees' roles and expectations, business goals, and mission and vision should be openly communicated. This can be done individually or by sharing access to the required training material.

2. Insufficient training

Onboarding can be a long journey. New employees usually take up to 12 months to reach their full performance potential. Insufficient initial training can render the employee unprepared to fulfill their duties.

Your modules should cover the employee's daily activities and how they impact the business operations. They should also explain what kind of mistakes are expected and their remedies. In the case of virtual onboarding, giving easy access to the training modules so employees can revisit and revise when needed can help.

3. Neglecting to integrate new hires into the company culture

Employees who are not guided well through the cultural transition leave the organization in less than a year. That's why neglecting the cultural fitness of a new hire adversely impacts the work environment and company image.

A handbook listing your company's mission and vision does little to imbibe the culture in fresh hires. Instead, it should be a gradual process undertaken by supervisors and managers and begin on the first day.

4. Overloading with information

Trying to stuff too much information during orientation sessions takes away the interest. Those full-day classroom training sessions for the first three days of joining often fail to connect with the new hire at a deeper level.

Your new employees need time to absorb information. Customize it to match their comfortable speed and make it interactive.

Creating a positive onboarding experience benefits the new employee and you as an HR leader.

Here are the top advantages you can rake in by investing in its best practices.

Why investing in a great onboarding experience pays off

  • Helps employees connect better to your company's culture
  • Employees better understand how their work affects the business and set their expectations right.
  • Sets a solid foundation and an excellent first impression for enhanced employee experience.
  • Increase employee retention. 69% of employees with a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stay with your company for over 3 years.

91% of employees who have an effective onboarding process feel connected to their work. It helps them understand why they are needed by your company and gives them a sense of belonging. Great onboarding experience leads to enhanced employee experience.

You can rely on Amber, the AI-enabled chatbot, to connect with each employee individually and evaluate their experience.

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