3 simple ways leading companies build best in class onboarding programs

Jul 18, 2019

We’ve all heard of the best in class onboarding and induction programs from well-known technology firms like Microsoft and IBM.

But what do they all have in common and what can you do if you don’t have similar budgets?

Recent research by Gallup in the US found only 12% of employees indicated that they thought their workplace was doing a great job at onboarding[1].

If we marry this to the statistics that show us one in five people quit within the first 45 days, it clearly shows how those first weeks can influence a new hire’s decision to stay or resign.

To avoid the risk of this happening to you, keep them engaged! The small things make a difference.

1:     Make their first day special

It’s not surprising to see a lift in retention rates if you can start the onboarding process before a new hire has even formally arrived.

In fact, the Aberdeen Group found firms who had ‘pre-boarding’ processes, retained 81% of their first-year employees[2].

This makes common sense. The more prepared you are as a new starter, the less daunting it is on day one.

You can easily send across policies and handbooks early on for reference. To create a more welcoming approach, focus on making their first day at work special.

Take them out for a team lunch or coffee. Create a welcome pack with important information.

Starting a new job should be a celebration.

2:     Introduce your newest team member

At Microsoft, assigning a buddy was found to increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and provide context.

The more meetings the buddy had with the new employee in the first 90 days, the greater the impact on productivity.

Over 56% of new hires, who met their buddy at least once during their first 90 days felt that their buddy helped them acclimatise to the organisation quickly. This jumped to 97% if they met more than 8 times[3].

Help new people build relationships from day one. Introduce them to the team, including senior management. Invite them to informal get-togethers, as well as company functions.

If you can, assign a buddy to act as a guide. It’s easier to talk through any concerns early on with a colleague who isn’t your new manager.

Building strong working relationships leads to higher performance and job satisfaction.

3:     Start an ongoing conversation

One of the most common reasons a person will quit early on is due to a lack of guidance around their role.

Often the job didn’t match up to their expectations or something was misunderstood.

It’s important to check in on how a new hire is performing. Be crystal clear during the first four weeks. Outline the objectives, key timelines and responsibilities of the job.

Ask your new employee at the end of the first week if they have found anything surprising about the role.

If they have the opportunity to voice concerns early on, you can resolve job-related issues before they escalate.

This is just the start of their journey with your organisation. Think beyond the first week’s induction activities.

New recruits at IBM navigate their way through a 2-year induction program.

Succeeding extends the traditional 30-day onboarding process into a comprehensive program which focusses on building relationships, finding support and learning about the organisation’s culture, history and values[4].

Keep the conversation going. Plan for regular reviews and schedule milestone dates at 30, 60 and 90 days in your calendars.

Financial Benefits

If you aim to include cultural activities and plan to keep connected to your new hire, you’re already moving in the right direction.

When an onboard program is working effectively, a new hire will feel like part of the team. Self-confident in doing the job well.

These are signals to you your employee is fully ‘on board’ and connected with your company’s overall goals, which translates to a number of financial benefits for your organisation.

Here’s a two-page checklist below, providing a step-by-step guide for ensuring a positive onboarding experience.

But remember, to think of yourself as building a new relationship, your new employee is a person. This is not just about ticking boxes on a form.

Take it as a starting point … you can then build on it. In my next post, I will show you the hidden psychological triggers that make people leave, and the easy way to stop them from walking out of the door.

Source References

1.     Gallup: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/235121/why-onboarding-experience-key-retention.aspx

2.     Aberdeen Group: https://www.aberdeen.com/hcm-essentials/perfecting-onboarding-funnel/

3.     Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/06/every-new-employee-needs-an-onboarding-buddy

4.     Paysa Blog: https://www.paysa.com/blog/ibm-new-hire-onboarding-process/

Iolanda Hazell

Iolanda Hazell is Head of People & Culture at Pulse Software - 18+ yrs of HR experience supporting small-large companies in sectors such as financial, professional services, technology & government.