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Employee onboarding: the forgotten recruitment phase

So you’ve spent hours searching for, interviewing, and negotiating with your ideal candidate for that vacant position at your company. The offer letter is signed, their first day is scheduled: nothing to do now except kick back and revel in your recruitment success, right?

Wrong.

If you think like that, then you’re ignoring perhaps the most important phase in the entire recruitment process – employee onboarding.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is a program that all new hires are put through when they join a company to teach them about the team, culture, and their responsibilities. It’s more than a simple orientation that says “here’s your desk, get to work.” Employee orientation or onboarding is just as much about training as it is about showing new hires the benefits of working for your organization. It involves making them feel welcome, fully informed about the company, integrated into their team, and empowered to start contributing.

For recruiters, employee onboarding can be thought of as ensuring your promises from the interview phase are kept. You want to follow up your exciting sales pitch with an onboarding experience that meets the hype. Falling short here can leave the new employee questioning whether they made the right decision, and might even lead to their early departure from the company.

Why is employee onboarding important?

Having a clear and engaging employee onboarding process is the most effective way to ensure that a new hire doesn’t turn into a former employee one or two months down the road. It’s critical to employee satisfaction, retention, engagement and, above all, their performance, and value to your company.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a looks at some facts about employee orientation pulled together by The Undercover Recruiter.

  • 91% of onboarded employees feel connected to their new companies.
  • 89% of employees feel strong integrations into their teams.
  • Employees are 14 times more likely to have strong role clarity in their new positions.
  • Job satisfaction for onboarded employees is 30 times higher than those who were not onboarded.

As a result, onboarded employees are 18 times more likely to be committed to their company long term.

The bottom line is that companies who invest the time in employee onboarding see deeper bonds between co-workers, increased engagement and stronger cultures. New hires also get up to speed quicker and can start contributing sooner. All of these benefits combined result in drastic improvements to a company’s success.

Employee onboarding best practices

There are a number of tried and tested employee orientation best practices that you can use to plan your own process. But, you should also take a look at what makes your organization unique – and what makes the specific candidate and role unique – and tailor individual onboarding plans to meet specific needs. Don’t assume that all employees will respond to their onboarding process the same way.

You can start the onboarding process during the recruitment stage by sharing information about your company’s vision and goals for the future. That way, candidates are engaged with your organization from the very beginning. It also helps if you can give them an idea of what your company culture is like, from understanding what type of leadership they can expect from the line managers/supervisors, what the work ethic is like, what a typical day looks like, the norms of working there (flexible hours, remote working, traveling for conferences, etc.) Paint a picture of your organization, so that prospective employees know what they’re walking into.

In the same way, you can also extend the candidate experience beyond the job offer. You can do this by delivering on expectations that were set during the recruiting stage. For example, if you promised an international candidate that you’d help them with their relocation and visa paperwork, deliver on that promise and provide them with all the information they need to make the transition as smooth as possible from candidate to employee. Not only does this reflect well on you as a recruiter, but you also set up your new employee for success and satisfaction at your organization, which is the ultimate goal.

With that being said, here are some common new hire onboarding best practices for you to consider.

1. Stay in touch with your employee before their first day

It’s good practice to keep the lines of communication open with your new hire before their start date. This will allow you to give them details like where to park, public transportation options, dress codes, lunch plans, and what they can expect on their first day. This will ensure that your new hire knows you’re on top of their onboarding process and will allow them to prepare for their first day at your company.

2. Develop a general checklist of onboarding essentials

While the employee onboarding plan will obviously vary depending on the role you’ve hired for, there are some things that every new hire has to complete, regardless of position. These include administrative tasks like filling out payroll and benefits forms, getting computers and tech devices set up, programming badges and passes, and so on. Make a detailed checklist of these administrative onboarding activities so that they are completed during the new hire’s first week.

3. Make their first day as enjoyable as possible

First impressions matter as much for your organization as they do for the new hire, so you should make sure you’re putting your company’s best foot forward. There are many ways to do this, including:

  • Setting up their workspace with their computer, company swag, a welcome sign, and some creative decorations.
  • Bringing them around to meet their team members, explaining what everyone’s roles are and where the new hire fits in.
  • Planning a fun team lunch to make the new hire feel like a real part of the team.
  • Showing a presentation or video about the company’s culture, values, and vision. This will help the new hire understand what type of organization they’ve joined and how they fit.
  • Any other fun and creative activity you can think of to make the new hire’s first day an amazing one.

4. Plan an on-the-job training program with short term goals

While having fun with their new team members is obviously important, most new hires will want to start making an impact as quickly as possible. To help them get there, develop a detailed on-the-job training program as part of their employee onboarding. Get them working on tasks they’ll be expected to complete while offering support and guidance where needed. Throw in some small projects and short term goals due in their first month to get them contributing to the team right out of the gate.

5. Continue onboarding even after their first week or month on the job

Employee onboarding is all about developing and engaging your new hires until they’re a high performing member of your team and culture. It’s not necessarily a one week or one month exercise, and it shouldn’t be scheduled with rigid timelines like one. You should be continually working with your new hires to understand how they’re doing, how they’re enjoying their new job and the team, whether they have any concerns, and so on.

Evolving your employee onboarding from a welcoming ceremony into a development program and then into a talent management and retention exercise will help you accomplish your initial goal of finding the absolute perfect fit for your organization.

Conclusion

In a candidate-driven market, it’s now more important than ever to emphasize the candidate experience during onboarding, as it could be a competitive differentiator. The best talent will always attract your competitors and innovative start-ups, as such, creating a candidate experience where your employees feel valued and geared for success could be the deciding factor for them to stay with you, instead of being poached. As the old saying goes, first impressions count for everything, so make sure you make the right one!

A positive onboarding is also likely to encourage your current employees to refer more candidates your way, helping you to boost your existing talent pipeline. Not to mention word of mouth marketing from your new/current hires, which also attracts the attention of even more candidates your way. It’s simple maths: the greater the experience you can provide during your employee onboarding, the higher the chance of you being able to attract more high-quality candidates to your company faster. It’s a win-win for both you and your new employees.

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