Your employee onboarding can hurt you

Is your process the best it can be?

What’s the first thing you do when you bring on a new hire? Hand them an onboarding manual the size of Game of Thrones? Have them sit through a lengthy HR meeting?

How effective do you really think that is?

I recently spoke to onboarding expert Benjamin Jackson, the mastermind behind onboarding Slackbot Aloha. He shared one of his favorite practices: something both Facebook and Etsy use in their own onboarding process.

When new engineers join their respective teams, they push code to production on their very first day. Taking a small project to completion and experiencing success immediately sets the tone. Instead of weighing new hires down with paper and procedure, these companies give their team members a taste of what it’s really like to work there. This approach works for any team, from engineering and UX all the way to marketing and HR.

But, it isn’t common practice. Somewhere along the road, onboarding became more about filling out forms than actually joining a team. It’s time to change that.

Does onboarding actually matter?

You spent a lot of time, effort and cash on hiring a new employee. According to the SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average spend per new hire is $4129Research by Sapling puts it at $8886. The exact cost varies based on the industry and the position in question. Combine this with the fact that up to 20% of new hires leave within the first 45 daysand you’ve got a challenge on your hands.

Hiring a new employee will always cost you money. But, onboarding doesn’t have to be an expense that hurts your bottom line. It can be the start of a positive feedback loop that increases your profit margins and chances for success. Companies with a standard onboarding process see a 54% increase in productivity and enjoy a 50% greater retention rate for new hires.

What can you achieve if your new employees can be 50% more productivefrom the start? What impact would this have on your bottom line?

A proper process helps your new team members power through the first few weeks, reach full steam faster and produce better results. Why would you deprive yourself of this extra impact?

Take a step in their shoes

Put yourself in your fresh hire’s place. Joining a new team is pretty scary. You go from confidently knowing what to do to being the new kid all over again.

Onboarding should, in theory, make that transition fairly painless. According to Ben Jackson, the reality is starkly different. Most companies don’t keep their onboarding materials in one place. Instead, new hires get pelted with information from every direction. They get emails, links shared through Slack, personal messages and physical handouts.

They want to get up to speed but the stuff they need is so spread out, they don’t know where to start. Hosting all that crucial onboarding information in a central location will give them access to what they need on their terms. Creating a shared space for all onboarding materials empowers new hires by making it easy to find what they need to do a stellar job from day one.

Help them settle in

You want results quickly. So does your new hire. No one wants to feel useless at their job. One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of onboarding is defining the role.

Job descriptions can be extremely nebulous and vary wildly between companies and industries. Even at the highest levels, role names mean different things to different people. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, professor Kimberly A. Whitler and Neil A. Morgan shared some interesting insights about CMOs. They found that the job description and actual expectation varied across different companies. This led to high turnover rates and disappointed executives.

Don’t fall into that trap. Define the job role and the deliverables as early and as clearly as possible.

Give the new hire a clear framework. Who do they report to? What do they need to deliver by the end of each week? Who are they going to work with? By communicating clearly and often during those first few weeks you can set the new hire up for success and help them be productive straight away.

A mentoring or buddy program can make joining a new team a lot less scary. Trello has a coffee buddy program where team members can connect through Slack, grab a coffee and get to know each other. Let your new team member know about similar programs in your company and help them set up their first meeting. Having a buddy you can turn to to ask all those questions you don’t want to ask management can be invaluable.

It’s time to give your team an edge

Can you still run a business without a streamlined onboarding process? Sure. Will your company be as efficient? No. You will bleed money left and right.

Your team are your most important asset. They push the product and sales forward. A proper, integrated onboarding process that helps employees get up to speed as quickly and hit full productivity faster adds to your bottom line. It helps you grow and scale and gives you a competitive edge.

Who doesn’t want that?

Give your team the support they need to succeed.

We’re launching an ebook with a step by step guide to onboarding. It will walk you through everything you need to do to create the best onboarding experience in the business. It’s packed with actionable advice! Sign up for a free copy.

The infographic below brings the key takeaways in a nutshell.

In the meantime, start by understanding how well you handle employee onboarding in your organization. Take this short quiz to find out and get practical recommendations to start improving your onboarding right now.

It’s time to take things to the next level!

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Jessica TorresYour employee onboarding can hurt you

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