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How to get “new employee onboarding” right in your company

Employee Onboarding process and its importance

Oftentimes we as HR personnel and departments get so caught-up with the New Employee hiring process that we ignore in a large extent the arguably next most crucial thing – Onboarding our new hire. Of-course the more crucial thing is to get the right candidate for our company. Without that, nothing moves and hence we spend the big money to get them recruited. But once the person joins the company, it is oftentimes that we do less-than-optimal to get them inculcated within our ranks. Employee Onboarding process generally gets reduced to a functional issue. We definitely run through the insurance forms, bank account opening process and maybe a tour of the cafeteria. While all of this is great and required, the employee onboarding process can be much more. It can be infact, as much as you wish it to be. Such is the scope we are talking here.

Benefits of a good employee onboarding process

There are surveys that confirm that the employee onboarding process has material effect on productivity and employee retention. A well-run employee onboarding process can mean an enhanced retention of employees, better employee engagement and improved employee productivity. Also, the employees shall gain confidence generally and be job ready at the other end of the process. In a survey conducted by Gallup, only 12 pct of employees agreed that they were satisfied with the employee onboarding process followed and delivered to them in their company. You as an HR partner get to discuss about the company culture with your new hires in a appropriately conducted new hire onboarding process. It may be true that a few of these employees shall not be the most receptive and attentive in the process, but the good ones will be. And those are the personnel who shall help your organization grow. They shall become the future managers and leaders in the company. A great example to cite here shall be the current WalMart CEO Doug Macmillan. He rose through the ranks within Walmart over the years and has been pivotal in turning the retail giant around in the last decade. Can it be because he understood the DNA of the company much better than anyone else they could have crash-landed for the top job. At any rate, let us now take a deeper-dive into the process of new hire onboarding.

New Employee Onboarding process steps

There is no formula set-in-stone for the new hire onboarding process. There are no strict rules for that. But there can be certain guidelines to abide-by that help you formulate a strategy that suits your company’s purpose. It is about wooing the employee and then getting them swept off their feet as they learn more about your company. This also presents a chance for the management to come together and expressly state the goals and vision they have for the company. And how the new person fits into the puzzle. They do not need to attend the onboarding process personally, but they can help formulate it. The first part is generally the Orientation plan. I would say this involves most of the functional and practical stuff. The paperwork. And the policies. It is the least creative of the part in a way. Some people advocate outsourcing it as it is a straightforward task. The next step is to familiarize the new hire with the company culture and values. A nicely worked out HR Handbook can be very handy at this juncture. It can be a starting point for the onboarding process. And it also stays with the employee for the length of time they work with you and hence becomes a reference point for all the onboarding talk. A good starting point can be to run-through the HR Handbook one chapter after the other at the start of the onboarding process. Of-course if you have not created a handbook like that, please take time to get that one done. It shall go a long way in future for your company as described in the piece linked to in the last few lines. The next step in the onboarding process could be setting up the environment for the new hire. Things like their email account and the directory for various personnel. It involves getting them to connect with the wider team and executives. As the need maybe. They ought to make them feel welcome on the ship. You can gift them some merchandise with the company graffiti embossed like mugs and stationery. Any meaningful discussion around any of these ideas and topics would be the first impressions etched within their psyche about the people and values withing the company. And this is a great port to communicate that to the new hire. And you can check with the new hire regularly for the first few weeks if they want any specific part of the onboarding part repeated for them in any way. Like getting a second meeting with any specific executive. You can mix-in some fun activity that concerns your brand or product. Like a welcome product gift if you are a niche e-commerce player. Another point of note is to take feedback from the fresh hire about their thoughts on the onboarding process. Make it an interactive exercise over a period of time to gain some insights from the same. The onboarding process is just that- a process. Hence there is not a certain set date or timeline which you have to subscribe to. Just apply the context and you shall be fine.

Employee onboarding cost for startups, impact and resources

One important aspect that may limit the scope is the budget that you set for the employee onboarding process. In a startup and SME business, this may be a constraint. But I would argue the process is the most crucial in startups and deserves investment. This is because your company as a startup is an unknown entity. There are all kinds of questions the employee you hired has and needs to find answers to for themselves and for the people in their lives who inquire about the new place they work in now. Take a judgement call on this one. At the management level. But based on the cost and resources you ought to invest in the new employee onboarding process, you shall need to measure the ROI in the longer term. It is again a precise and meticulous process. It also depends on the specifics for your company. It is best to research that topic separately as this piece does not cover that aspect and would not do justice to it in just a few lines. Some tools out there would help you carry out some of these tasks. One of them is the onboarding toolkit by trello.

Conclusion

In summation, employee onboarding process and flow is a complex and interesting exercise that needs you to invest time and money. And also management attention to carve out a balanced and correct pitch to the new hires about the company culture. Our expectation is that the HR teams may start discussing more about this aspect as it gets slid under the proverbial carpet among the barrage of other work like new hire recruitment and functional training. Watch out more on this space for more tips and ideas on new hire onboarding process.

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