Does Your Onboarding Train Run Smoothly?

Have you ever felt this way: a person who seemed to be a perfect candidate has not come up to your expectations even after the painstaking job of training? Or maybe an employee you were about to promote has resigned just out of the blue at the worst possible moment? On the other hand, imagine yourself new to the job and striving to learn the ropes. And even after your trial period is over, you are still unsure and anxious about your sought after job and do not seem to get on the right side of your colleagues.

Statistics shows that about 30% of new hires do not last as long as one year. And how does it affect a company? According to Society of Human Resources Management, the average cost of voluntary turnover is estimated at 6 to 9 months employee’s salary. Well, failures are just part of life, and here is a clue: no one is perfect… But everyone is unique and willing to become a valuable asset, provided that their hidden potential is unleashed and directed to the right course. So what is the solution to facilitate the transition of the new hire into a loyal employee? First of all, it lies in the profound understanding of the notion of onboarding.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is best explained as a process of moving a new hire from applicant to employee. There is a common misconception of ‘onboarding’ and ‘orientation’ being interchangeable terms, and it can be avoided if we view onboarding as a process expanding over a longer period of time and the orientation as a set of events normally reduced to a new hire’s first few days at work. They also differ in substance as well as objectives.

During orientation a newly hired employee takes care of the new hire paperwork, is given insights and values, shown around the office and introduced to the other colleagues. Onboarding, on the other hand, is a day-to-day process of acquiring specific job-related knowledge, developing positive attitudes and building strong work relationships, receiving the necessary guidance and exchanging feedback. So the main focus of orientation is building the initial awareness while onboarding refers more to gaining ground and hitting a cruising speed. Regardless of the differences, both are a crucial factor in employee’s successful tenure with the company. Being a gradual process of integration into a group, onboarding has its stages as well as factors facilitating successful assimilation. Thus it may be reasonable to see the orientation as the initial stage of onboarding, set up to speed up and maximize its efficiency.

Why do you need onboarding?

What’s in it for a company

Of course, you may question the need to go through all the trouble of maintaining the onboarding program in order to retain the newly hired talent when there is always a new candidate available. But the reality is that in our modern era of agility it is loyalty and dedication which are sought after. While recruitment is traditionally perceived as choosing the best candidate, in fact the ultimate objective is to create optimal conditions for retaining valuable employees.

Another thing to keep in mind is the bottom line. Well-organized onboarding program literally pays off. Training specialists often operate a term ‘learning curve’ to describe the efficiency of learning while measuring new employees’ progress. The steeper the learning curve, the better. That is to say, the sooner a new hire gets assimilated, the less it will cost an organization.

All in all, both retaining employees and quickening their adjustment are economical: a working onboarding program will reduce time spent on hiring and retraining. As a result, your downtime costs will decrease and your overall productivity rise.

… and for an employee?

Even though at times the interests of the employee and employer might not coincide, the successful onboarding program benefits both parties. And these gains are tangible both in a short and long run. Here are the indicators of an employee’s successful transition. In a short run, a new hire is well-adjusted if he/she:

  • feels confident about their skill set,
  • clearly comprehends their role in the organization,
  • is comfortable in their relationships with the colleagues
  • and aware of the culture trends within the institution.

A successful completion of a candidate’s onboarding results in:

  • their job satisfaction;
  • feeling of commitment;
  • lower turnover;
  • higher productivity;
  • career success;
  • lower level of stress.

Aren’t they the things we all aspire to in the workplace? And won’t the management be joyous if all the employees feel and act that way? Thus an effective onboarding program will be beneficial to both sides of the process.

How to make it work?

To make your program work you have to base it on certain principles. Make sure your program:

  • has a sound structure, well-timed stages and steps so as not to overwhelm a new employee or other people responsible;
  • involves a number of people from various departments and organizational levels;
  • is individually designed for a specific context: relies on participation and feedback from a new hire;
  • is multifaceted: not restricted to explaining a company’s policy and dealing with legal matters and job specifics, but rather introducing a hire to a broader context.

Proactive programs result in better engagement. Some companies come up with ingenious projects to get their new hires up and running faster, such as the Facebook Bootcamp or the Google Noogler Program, to name but a few. However, in a recent academic research on human resource management conducted on behalf of SHRM it has been estimated that only about 20% of companies are operating their onboarding programs to the full, and they have clearly found a key to success. They stick to their mantra: employees come first, not clients. Take care of your employees and they will take care of the clients.

Similarly to people, every company possesses a unique character, has its own ways of pursuing success. Therefore, make sure that orientation of your new hires does not boil down to a simple on-the-job training. It is rather a sacred event of initiation, which comprises understanding of the company’s values, objectives, its code of behavior, together with the scope of duties and rights assigned to a particular person. To enhance the performance one should not only know what is expected from them, but also feel valued and respected, feel they are an important part of the organization and clearly understand their role. Thus successful onboarding is akin to fine tuning…

Still looking for the ways to create or facilitate your onboarding process? A team of professionals at Rallyware can steer you through creation and customization of your very own onboarding program. Eventually, if your onboarding train runs smoothly, you will get there first.

Click here to see Rallyware in action or read more about our performance enablement suite.