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Is a structured Onboarding process really worth it?

In a word, yes. Well that’s if reducing your staffing costs and increasing performance levels of your team members is important to your business – which I’m guessing it is.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a term to describe the process businesses use to integrate a new worker (employee/contractor/volunteer) into the business. Onboarding takes enthusiastic new hires and rapidly engages and connects them to the life of the business. That engagement leads to employee commitment, and their commitment leads to accomplishment.

It encompasses everything from the recruitment stage and their induction, through to their initial training end of probation period. Although various HR articles differ in the timeframe they refer to when discussing onboarding processes, 3-6-months is standard but it obviously depends on the type of role. Think of it as the timeframe by which your new employee will have been trained up in their new role and fully understands the systems, processes and tools they need to perform their role effectively).

After all the time and money business owners invest in securing new hires, onboarding often falls short. While most onboarding programs focus on job basics like password and workspace setups, and brief introductions to co-workers, more detailed onboarding processes increase productivity and reduce turnover. The ultimate goal of onboarding is to acclimatise your new hire quickly, reduce the time taken for them to become proficient and drive engagement.

Turnover is expensive. The cost of replacing an entry-level employee these days is measured to be 30-50% of the person’s annual salary. And, for mid and senior-level employees, it can reach 150–400% respectively when you take everything in to account. At every departure, morale and productivity suffer too.

What the research says

Research tells us that an effective onboarding program:

  • increases your new hires intention to stay (ie. Reduces turnover),
  • increases engagement
  • increases commitment to the role and business
  • Increases loyalty
  • Reduces the time taken to reach full productivity
  • Reduces absenteeism.

Some statistics for you:

  • An effective onboarding process can increase a new hires intention to stay by 21%
  • Nearly 4% of new employees leave their new jobs after a disastrous first day
  • New employees decide within the first 30 days whether they feel welcome in the company
  • 86% of new hires have made a decision whether or not to stay with an organisation long term within the first 6 months

6 practical tips

1. Onboarding Checklist

Develop an onboarding checklist that is uniquely tailored to your business - even a 'basic' Onboarding process will bring you results! Having a formal document where onboarding items are ticked off as you go will show you are a professional well-planned workplace and give you (or the new hires’ manager/supervisor) guidance on what to cover. We have developed a ready-to-use Onboarding Checklist Template which you can tailor to onboard your next new hire. If you would like access to the checklist fully populated with all the steps required at each stage of the Onboarding process, subscribe to 'HR Now' our Employer Advisory Service.

2. Get organised

To avoid your new hire developing a negative perception of you and your business as disorganised and mismanaged, make sure you are completely ready for them to arrive on their first day. You don’t want to be wasting money for an employee to sit around doing nothing while you get their computer working or find resources they need to get started.

Here are some basic examples:

  1. Desk/workspace clean with stationery
  2. Phone and computer completely setup
  3. phone list with all extensions listed
  4. Passwords, security passes organised
  5. Have the Position Description ready to go through together

3. Complete paperwork ASAP

Paperwork, including ATO forms etc, are a necessary part of the onboarding process but most employees (and employers!) hate the process of completing all these forms and double checking they are completed and signed correctly. However, this essential paperwork needs to be completed correctly ASAP early on their first day so you know all legal requirements of employing your new hire are taken care of and on their employee file.

4. Focus on relationships

Use time and resources in the early days of their employment to build their internal networks. The earlier your new hire feels part of the team the better.

5. Assign them a mentor or buddy

To help the new employee build a strong and reliable network of friends and experts across the business and familiarise themselves with how it functions, it is advisable to assign them a mentor or buddy from the same team or work area that understands their particular job. Try to pick one of your best employees to be their mentor/buddy as they will serve to be your best culture ambassadors. The mentor/buddy provides the new hire with a go to person on all manner of things eg. where is a good place to go for lunch, or the best commute. The main benefit of a mentor/buddy is that they provide a human element to the onboarding process and the right mentor can start a friendship that lasts the new hire's working life in your business. 

6. Check in

Regularly check in on your new hire to ensure they are settling in and progressing in their role. Set a meeting time (even if it’s a 5-10 minute catch-up) in your and their diaries so they know their progress is important to you.

7. Evidence, evidence, evidence!

As an added protection for you, make sure you have the employee sign that they have been taken through each item on the Checklist and then save this on their employee file. You never know when this evidence is going to protect you legally if the employment relationship goes sour and accusations of not having been told certain things are put forward by the employee as reasons for poor performance.

8. Automate it!

There are a number of fantastic cloud-based HR systems in the marketplace which are designed for small business and have a very affordable price-tag. Many of them have an onboarding module which provides streamlined processes for onboarding and let’s you say goodbye to a paper-based system and excel spreadsheets. Many of them also have employee self-service functionality which makes it even easier to send and track what paperwork and training your new hire has been provided across these early months. If you would like to know more about the cloud-based systems give us a call or an email. We’ll help you work out which would be the best option for your business.

But until then, we encourage you to download the Onboarding Checklist Template and tailor it for use with your next new hire onboarding process.

If you would like access to this checklist fully populated with all the steps required at each stage of the Onboarding process, subscribe to 'HR Now' our Employer Advisory Service and you'll receive access to this and many more full version checklists, forms and templates along with many other inclusions in your monthly subscriber fee of only $99/month.

For more advice on Onboarding your new employees, contact us at HR Tactics.

0406 146 116