How to Create a Great Onboarding Experience for your Future Employees
After weeks of resume reviews and Zoom interviews, there's nothing better than finally getting to send out offer letters. Don’t start celebrating too soon, though; the moment an offer letter is sent, hiring is over and onboarding begins.
Onboarding is often written off as a process designed to speed through the necessary paperwork and training details as fast as possible. In reality, this process can be key to creating and keeping fantastic employees. Designing a great onboarding experience is just as important as selecting the perfect new hire. Let’s get into why it matters, and how to take your onboarding process to the next level.
Why Onboarding Matters
We all know a good onboarding process helps get a new hire set up quickly and efficiently, making sure the boring details of payroll and Slack access are dealt with before the real work can begin. However, administrative tasks are just one small part of why onboarding matters. When implemented correctly, an onboarding process can prevent employee turnover, establish a positive work culture, and increase productivity.
Onboarding for Retention
With a record 8 million job openings this spring, there’s a good chance your promising new hire is in high demand. And while they may be excited about their new role initially, it won’t take long for them to move on if greeted with an underwhelming onboarding experience.
On average, employers lose 17% of new hires within their first 90 days due to issues that easily could (and should!) have been addressed through proper onboarding. These issues include “receiving clear guidelines” on job expectations and responsibilities, as well as “more effective training.” If your onboarding process only goes as far as setting up a new email, it might not be long until your new hire’s resignation hits your inbox.
Onboarding for Culture
Now that the interview jitters are out of the way, the onboarding process is your new hire’s first chance to get a feel for how they’ll fit into the company culture. This means going beyond a quick overview of company values and the mission statement is key. Just as much is communicated about a workplace culture in what’s left unsaid; a rushed onboarding process lets your new hire know that speed is more important than quality, and efficiency matters more than people.
Employees who receive a culture-first onboarding experience are almost fifty times more likely to report feeling supported by their workplace. Great onboarding can turn a new hire from an awkward outsider to a confident member of the team.
Onboarding for Productivity
Even with great prior experience and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, new hires won’t be able to perform at their best without proper training, feedback and support. These three responsibilities often get dumped on managers, leaving the fate of a new employee to an already stressed team lead.
By incorporating personalized training and regular check-ins into the onboarding process, new hires are far more likely to thrive in their role, quickly turning from a high promising candidate to high performing employee. In fact, employees who receive proper guidance and skill building during onboarding are 38% more likely to report job confidence. While this confidence may take time to build, proper onboarding can show productive results in less than 7 days: employees who receive effective onboarding are 70% more likely to report contributing to their team within their first week on the job.
3 Steps to Outstanding Onboarding
Onboarding is important; that much is clear. But how can you be sure that your onboarding process is going above and beyond? Creating an experience that leaves new hires feeling prepared, supported and excited comes down to three key steps: timing, engagement and personalization.
1. Hit the Ground Running (and don’t stop)
The moment your new hire signs their offer letter, they officially become a part of the team. Don’t wait until their first day to start onboarding. Instead, begin your onboarding process right away by providing virtual resources to set job expectations, answer initial questions and keep excitement high even before the real work has begun.
After a few weeks of getting an employee settled, it might be tempting to end the onboarding process and let them find their footing alone. But ending onboarding too soon can be a huge mistake. Rather than abandoning an employee after their first month, space out occasional check-ins, activities, and new learning resources to continue their growth throughout their entire first year. Worried about onboarding overkill? Feel free to keep late stage onboarding to the bare minimum, or even allow employees to opt out if they feel overwhelmed. While you certainly don’t want to overload new hires, keeping resources available throughout their entire first year can provide a comfortable safety net for moments of uncertainty.
2. Keep it Fun
The term “onboarding” doesn’t exactly perk up any ears, and it's easy to understand why. Traditional onboarding processes require hours of reading company documents, watching training videos and slogging through basic tasks. New hires are not only left bored by this format, but they’re also less likely to retain important information.
In order to keep employees engaged and entertained throughout the onboarding process, prioritize diverse and interactive learning design. Try breaking up administrative tasks with short learning blocks dedicated to role responsibility or training. Be sure to make these blocks as active as possible by including quizzes, check-ins, and even quick learning games. To help integrate your new hire with their team, intersperse individual learning with social activities, allowing more senior employees to share company values and lessons.
By regularly shifting the onboarding process between tasks, lessons and interactive activities, new hires will remember key lessons and might even have some fun along the way.
3. Let’s Get Personal
The perfect onboarding experience won’t look the same for everyone. Your new sales executive might be bored to tears by information your new junior developer would consider vital. Personalizing the onboarding process to your new hire’s role, prior experience and interests will leave your new hires feeling well supported. As an added bonus, you’ll save time and resources by leaving out any information that might be redundant or irrelevant.
Personalization begins at a role specific level. Determine what information is most relevant to the department, team and position and focus each learning block around these points. From there, add in content sparingly; if it’s not directly helpful for the job at hand, it might just be creating unnecessary work for both you and your new hires.
Once you’ve determined what content is relevant to the role, focus on tailoring your process to the actual person being onboarded. A great way to do this is by collecting data early on about your new hire’s experience, interests and concerns. This allows each employee to take control over their onboarding experience, focusing on information they find exciting and worthwhile.
Above all else, remember that your onboarding process is designed for fellow humans, with just as many concerns and limitations as the rest of us. By respecting your new hire’s time and needs, you can set a precedent for a fantastic work experience going forward.
Interested in onboarding through SMS? Check out how you can use Arist to provide an engaging, personalized onboarding experience from start to finish.