Successful Onboarding Strategies — It’s More Than Just What Happens On Day One

A man and woman looking at papers in an open room

Onboarding a new employee can often seem like the simplest part of the recruitment process. After the days, weeks and sometimes even months spent finding the right candidate, when they’ve signed their offer and have an official start date, it can be tempting to think the hard part is over.

However, successfully onboarding a new hire is vital when it comes to both recruiting and retaining top talent. After all, what if after all the time, effort and money put into hiring that great candidate, they leave the company just a few months later?

Unfortunately, studies show that’s exactly what 22% of new employees do within the first 45 days of their employment. With almost a quarter of staff turnover occurring so soon after starting a new job, how can recruiters implement a successful onboarding process to mitigate this and retain new hires?

To implement a successful onboarding process, it’s important to not tackle everything at once. Instead, employers and recruiters should try splitting their onboarding process into three components; Impression, Immersion and Integration, that support the candidate journey from job seeker to new employee and beyond. Read on to find out more about these three phases and what you can do in each.

1. Impression — Start the onboarding process early

A successful onboarding process starts early with your employer brand. As job seekers increasingly turn online to find out more about the company or job they’re interested in, it’s crucial for employers to make a good impression and showcase their employer brand to potential new employees. Not doing so can be detrimental to the hiring process, especially when 77%1 of job seekers are automatically suspicious about a job opportunity when the organisation has no online presence.

77% of workers would be suspicious of job opportunities at a company with no online information about its reputation

With this in mind, it’s important for employers to create and maintain a robust online presence that gives job seekers insight into what it’s really like to work there. A great way to do this is to create and regularly update their careers page or Indeed Company Page, answer job seekers’ questions, comment on reviews, and upload pictures and videos that give people a sneak peek into the company culture and team dynamic.

2. Immersion — Create a structured onboarding process for their first day

The first day for any new employee can be a stressful and anxious one. But what can often make the situation worse is coming into an unwelcome and chaotic environment. In fact, studies show that creating an immersive and positive onboarding experience can directly impact the productivity and retention of new hires. At one company for instance, employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at the company for up to three years.

Reasons new hires who left their jobs within the first 6 months

Receiving clear guidelines on job responsibilities (23%); more effective t raining (22%); A friendly smile or helpful coworkers (18%); To be recognized for their contributions (12%); more attention from managers and coworkers (9%)

The first step to creating a structured and successful onboarding process is understanding what new employees need during those first few weeks and months. According to research conducted by bambooHR, almost a quarter (23%) of new hires who left their jobs within the first six months, said receiving clear guidelines to what their responsibilities were would have helped them stay at their new job. Other things that would have encouraged them to remain include more effective training (21%) and a friendly smile or helpful co-worker (17%).

Fortunately, these are all things employers can control, especially during a new hire’s first few weeks. By setting up a structured and immersive onboarding process that touches on the things that are important to new employees, employers can help keep them excited about their new role and highly engaged months after they’ve started.

3. Integration — Continue the onboarding process on an ongoing basis

78% of employees spend more time with coworkers than they do their family

To implement a successful onboarding process, employers need a plan that extends beyond a new hire’s first day. With 78% of employees spending more time with coworkers than family, staying connected with new employees and integrating them into the fabric of your workplace is crucial to retaining them.

In fact, according to research by Dr. Niklas Steffens, a professor at the University of Queensland, health at work is determined by the social relationships in the workplace. As a result, it’s important to continuously ensure employees are having a healthy and positive social experience within the workplace. After all, if employees don’t feel comfortable or included at work, they’re likely to have a negative experience, no matter how much they enjoy the role.

One strategy employers can implement into their onboarding process is a “buddy system” for new hires. This tool can be effective for integrating new employees into the social dynamic of the workplace, especially for remote employees or those who travel often. It can also help improve new hires’ outlook regarding their job and their coworkers.

According to research, Australians who have a “best friend” at work are 13% more likely to plan to be at the company one year from joining, 33% more likely to say they have received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days, and 157% more likely to say that their coworkers are committed to quality.2

Implementing strategies for onboarding success

Using the Impression, Immersion and Integration approach to onboarding gives employees a more holistic experience that includes the three different stages of job seekers’ journey with the company. After all, an employee’s relationship with a company is far greater than just their first day, so it’s important to create an onboarding process that supports employees as they grow and develop.

1 Methodology: Indeed partnered with Lonergan Research to survey 1,033 Australian workers in January 2019.

2 Methodology: This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed among 500 Australian job seekers between June and July 2016.

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