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Mastering Employee Onboarding: Key Strategies for Success

Jul 14, 2023

Employee onboarding is an essential part of the employment process, and a poorly made program can make potential hires run for the hills in fear. Conversely, the effect of a well-made onboarding program is an increased retention rate of 82%. (Source) Developing a good onboarding process can help boost productivity within your organization and help employees with their long-term careers.

Mastering Employee Onboarding: Key Strategies for Success

1. Focus of Employee Onboarding

Employee onboarding is the process of helping an employee and company ease into a beneficial working relationship. It's an organized training process designed to assist new hires in the beginning of their employment within your company. There are three major purposes to this process.

1. It helps the employee acclimate to the work environment and their fellow employees.

2. It helps engage workers to gain higher performance rates.

3. It helps retain employees for a longer period of time by providing them with the knowledge that they need to succeed in their position.

Acclimation, engagement, and retention are the ultimate goals of an effective employee onboarding strategy.

2. Where does onboarding begin?

Onboarding employees isn't one single event, it's more of a process. However, there is a specific place in which the process begins: the application and interview process. As soon as a potential employee sees your advertisement for the position, they are given certain expectations for the job itself. It's important to put your best foot forward in creating a process that each applicant is drawn to - more specifically that the best applicant for the position is drawn to. Create the most accurate representation of the job, its requirements, and what the applicant can expect if they obtain employment within your company.

Other key parts of the onboarding process include:

The interview: Similar to the application, the interview will give certain expectations to the applicant of what working with the company will be like. You may find that a short interview is best. The most important thing to consider is how you represent yourself and your company within that interview.

The first day: The first day of a new job sets the tone for someone's entire career within your company. You're not only interviewing them, they're also interviewing you. They're determining if joining your team will be mutually beneficial. Don't discuss certain job features if you think it's likely to make them leave. Instead, be as accurate and transparent as possible because a bad fit for them is also a bad fit for you.

The first few months: Onboarding doesn't stop when someone is hired and trained. It continues until they can accurately complete their job expectations with little to no instruction from superiors. Set up structures and goal expectations that they can reliably and reasonably reach within a few months.

Avoid these onboarding mistakes:

- Relying on managers who don't know how to train or even answer the simplest questions.

- Leaving new employees alone on day one.

- Giving the employee a workspace that is not properly equipped for their responsibilities.

- Spending too much time on topics outside of the job description.

3. Components of an Effective Employee Onboarding Program

It's been established by this point that a good employee onboarding program is key in keeping employees satisfied and retaining them longer. Sometimes the onboarding process is the definitive factor in an employee's long-term success. Here are the components of an effective onboarding program:

Compliance and safety training

Company processes and procedures

Technical skills development

Soft skills training

Company culture

Products and services training

Technology tools and systems

Regardless of the type of business you run, these are important points to hit within the onboarding program. Establishing the expectations for excellence within a company relationship early on creates a baseline standard of cooperation that each employee follows. This in turn helps them understand safety and standard operating procedures within your individual company. In even the smallest company where a single employee operates beneath a single employer, establishing how the company is run, the expectations for productivity, and general procedures is the most important part of business strategy.

4. Who can benefit from an employee onboarding program?

You may think that the only people benefitting from an onboarding program are new employees, but there is no limit to the time frame in which an employee should complete the program itself. The truth is that veteran employees can also complete the program for a variety of reasons. The basic times that you would want an employee to complete the program are:

In the beginning: Having a new employee complete the program initially will help them ground themselves in the company, the procedures, and gain skills that they'll then develop as their time within the company goes on.

When your organization changes onboarding procedures since the employee was hired: Having the employee participate in the program or take the parts of the program that have shifted (if the entire program didn't change) will help them refamiliarize themselves with the newer parts of the program as well as understand what new hires have done in their onboarding. This also helps develop a company culture of similar experiences.

When the employee receives a promotion or change in positions: This is a frequent occurrence in larger companies, and each job title will have its own description and requirements, so retaking the program will help them know their job expectations.

With this in mind, you might ask, wouldn't it be better to have separate onboarding for separate positions?

While this is an effective solution, the purpose behind having each person complete the entirety of the onboarding program is to help them understand their job expectations within the context of the entire company. Showing the connections between what each position does and how one action will affect another down the line will contribute to the well-being of the entire company.

5. Tips to Consider for Your Onboarding Program

Now that you have a thorough understanding of what an employee onboarding program is, what factors go into its creation, and who can benefit from the program, here are a few tips to consider when preparing to create or implement your own onboarding program.

Delegate responsibilities: Delegation is the mark of a good leader. No person can do everything alone. With any project, there is a system of support designed to make the project work. Understand what you can do yourself and what would be best to delegate to another employee or team.

Think of it as a process, not an event: If thought of as an event, the time allotted for the onboarding program can be rushed and strained as you prepare to have the employee enter the workforce "officially." However, if thought of as an ongoing process, the employees are not hurried into completing jobs haphazardly. Instead, they can take their time learning their job responsibilities without added pressure.

Measure the effectiveness of your program: In order to make sure that the program is training employees to the best of its intention, create milestones of productivity that employees should be reaching in order to make sure that your program is working. If it's not working, or you're finding weak points within the system, adjust or adapt to make the most effective program you can.

Originality is a plus for employee retention: Employee retention is one of the main purposes behind creating an onboarding program. Focusing solely on policies and paperwork is one way to put unnecessary strain on your business. Instead, add team-building opportunities, build a kit surrounding the information they'll learn in the program, and give new hires a work mentor to help ease them into the job. The first year tends to be the hardest, and if an employee leaves, they're likely to do it within the first few months.

Plan onboarding in ways that impact employees' long-term success: Employment is supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship, if done right. That means that each person is invested in the other. Provide opportunities for professional development that will help employees reach long-term goals within the company and on their own.

Present information in a variety of methods: It's been known for a long time now that people learn in a variety of different ways. For this reason, try to use a few different methods of sharing crucial information, from infographics, to video, audio, and physical presentations.

Be prepared: Plan ahead. Try to find all the options for failure and limit them by creating a plan to deal with them. Failure is always a possibility, but by planning for it, you limit the extent.

Onboarding employees doesn't have to be a struggle. Sometimes it may be long and complicated, but that doesn't mean it should be difficult. By developing a program that is transparent, specific, and engaging, you can help ensure the longevity of your company and the long-term success of your employees.

Are you seeking professional development opportunities for your team? A partnership with School of PE will help your employees maximize their potential! Talk to a business development representative today for more information.

About the Author: Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor is a freelance writer and avid researcher- a jack of all trades, but a master of none. She graduated from the University of Hawai'i with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts because she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. She has since found her love of Extended Reality and the possibilities it brings to the world, as well as gardening, cooking, and writing. Anna lives in Interior Alaska with her family.

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