Written by Danielle Nixon, Divisional Manager
The onboarding of new recruits is a vital role that your managers play and helps to build a positive relationship between employer and employee - hopefully one that lasts. As you’re aware, finding talent is tough right now, so it’s essential that your managers are practicing effective onboarding to ensure you’re not left hunting for a replacement, which can be costly and time consuming in the current market. But when your managers are busier than ever and onboarding programmes typically span anywhere from three months to a year, how can you ensure it’s effective?
In this article I will help you and your manager/s to navigate the do’s and don’ts of onboarding and share some top tips to ensure your new hires are happy from day one.
In order to avoid your candidate accepting any counter-offers or getting cold feet before starting their role it’s important to start the onboarding process as soon as possible. The process should begin from the moment a candidate accepts a job offer, as the period between acceptance and start date can be the most volatile and the most common time to receive counter-offers from their current employer.
Regular communication is key and provides you with the opportunity to stay front of mind and minimise the possibility of a drop-out. A survey by Cezanne HR found that 48% of respondents had their heads turned by an offer of more money elsewhere after accepting a job offer. 30% of those said it was because of poor or no follow-up or a bad experience with the organisation after the job offer.
Once your new hire has started, it’s essential that they feel welcome, have everything they need to do their job and fully understand their role, particularly within the first week. Without all of these elements an individual can feel like a spare part, with no real purpose. Let’s face it, would you want to stay in a company that hasn’t made the time or effort to help you settle in?
There’s never enough hours in the day and it may be that your managers are struggling to find the time to deliver a thorough onboarding process. If this is the case then it’s important to educate them on the benefits that onboarding can bring, not only to the individual, but also the wider business.
Understandably an effective onboarding programme can be very time intensive for any manager but if done correctly, should be seen as investment. As a manager they are one of the most important people in the onboarding experience and their ability to onboard successfully will determine the longevity of that candidate. Using their time wisely will nurture a happy, committed and long-term employee, however get it wrong and it’s likely your new team member will be out the door, leaving you with another gap to fill.
Having the buy-in from your managers is vital as they will be responsible for converting new candidates into long-term employees. It could be beneficial to provide training to all responsible managers to help them create and deliver an effective and consistent onboarding strategy.
Much of the onboarding process is about paperwork and admin but it’s important to remember the more tactile side and ensure that your new starter is happy and content within their team. As an employer there are many benefits of delivering an effective onboarding experience including:
An engaged workforce can lead to higher productivity and profitability and lower attrition rates. If you successfully onboard your employees, they will feel more connected to the business, part of the team and ultimately more valued in their role.
As an employer you’re probably already of aware of how challenging it is to find the right talent at the moment. My key piece of advice to all my clients this year is to do everything you can to hang on to your team. Top talent is hard to come by right now and if you can implement a strong onboarding process for the first 90 days, there’s data to show that employees are less likely to resign.
Losing a valued member of staff can be expensive at the best of times, but with the current market it can be costly and time consuming to find a replacement. You can’t always avoid hiring costs but you can avoid losing out because of poor onboarding.
The ideal length of onboarding should be around 90 days. Based on my experience and knowledge I have outlined an onboarding timeline for your managers below, complete with some ideas and suggestions to support your process.
Once you’ve received verbal or written acceptance from your candidate you can kick off the process by sending a professional looking welcome pack in the post. This can include things like an official offer letter, contract, your company mission and values, useful information such as office location and contact information for colleagues. If you really want this to pack a punch you can opt for a branded folder or some company merchandise too.
This can be anywhere from a week to three months so it’s essential that you stay in touch with them, at least by email or phone but preferably in person. If you’re hosting any company events or activities, why don’t you invite your new starter along to get a feel for the culture. Alternatively, you could organise to meet up over coffee and introduce them to the rest of the team.
This is a critical time for your new starter and it’s essential that you prepare for their first week. Ahead of their first day make sure that everything is ready for them, including IT, workspace, account details, uniform if necessary and anything else they need for the job. It’s also useful to send an email out to the team/company to introduce the new starter and provide a tour of the office to help them get a feel for the place and meet other people. If you can use a ‘buddy’ scheme this works well and means they have someone to go to for any queries or issues, rather than leaving them to struggle in silence. I always advise my clients to use the first week to outline expectations and goals to ensure they’re aware of what is expected of them, their work hours, duties and dress code.
Sometimes onboarding is forgotten about after the first week so I suggest booking in one to one’s with your new employee at the one month mark to assess their performance. It’s also a good time to check in with them and find out how they’re feeling and answer any questions they might have. You can start sharing more information about the brand and vision for the organisation to help them really buy into the company and their future there.
Again, it’s important to schedule in a meeting with your new hire and follow up on their performance, if there are any shortfalls, now is the perfect time to address them and discuss how to correct them. You can use this time to introduce the employee to other areas of the business or other parts of the company to help broaden their awareness and support their integration into the team. If training is a key part of the job then now would be a good time to get them started on any relevant course. Development and progression opportunity is consistently important to most candidates looking to make that move so as a business, you need to be demonstrating and instigating all those development promises made to them at interview.
If this is the end of their probationary period then be sure to schedule a meeting with them, better still make it a working lunch and treat them to some one-on-one time away from the office. Allow them to speak freely to you about their first 6 months and any challenges or obstacles they’ve faced. This is also the perfect time to ask them for feedback on the onboarding process, what worked and what didn’t work to improve your process.
Every business wants their workforce to be happy, engaged and committed to their role and that all starts with a positive onboarding experience. Make time to create a thorough onboarding plan for at least 3 months to ensure you get the best opportunity to make a lasting first impression. By doing this you will undoubtedly save time and money through reduced attrition rates and fewer hiring fees.