March 14, 2016 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: best practices, onboarding
No matter what products or services your company offers, it’s important to know that your best inventory still walks through your front door every day. If you want to stay competitive, hiring and keeping the best people is paramount.
This is where onboarding comes in. Contrary to popular belief, proper onboarding isn’t all about benefit forms, setting up voicemail, and pointing out the restrooms. As Lilith Christiansen and Mark Stein say in Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization, it’s more about the strategic integration of new hires in a way that’s designed to decrease turnover by increasing engagement.
Onboarding is a hugely under-focused management issue, perhaps because the return isn’t immediate and the retention gains typically aren’t eye-popping. However, onboarding is directly tied to the organization’s talent, and if you don’t have great staff in place, things fall apart.
Yet, companies still fail to understand the massive importance of the initial six-to-12-month window to the success of their retention efforts. And despite spending an extraordinary amount of resources trying to recruit the best candidates, businesses still leave them alone to “sink or swim” once they’re hired.
(For a sample onboarding plan, see “Creating a Plan for Onboarding Success.”)
It’s important to note that every new hire in your organization is indeed onboarded because every employee has experiences that form his or her initial impressions of your company. The real question is whether or not these impressions make them want to give you their all. As you embark on your own onboarding journey, be alert for these common pitfalls that cause onboarding programs to fail:
Onboarding is all about getting new hires engaged. This is significant since there is an alarming amount of disengagement in the workplace. The truth is that most employees aren’t inherently disloyal; they are simply searching for work that is both satisfying and engaging. It’s important to note that job satisfaction and engagement aren’t the same thing. Satisfied employees will keep the company afloat, but engaged employees will help the organization grow. Here are a few ways to build engagement into your onboarding efforts:
What specific items should you cover in your onboarding curriculum? As Christiansen and Stein state in Successful Onboarding, regardless of your business, every onboarding curriculum should focus on three areas:
Regardless of how much classroom instruction they get and how much employees bond with each other, there will come a point where every new hire has a “first” that is important to that person’s overall onboarding experience. Christiansen recommends that—in addition to technical, cultural, and social training/assimilation—managers take great care to help new grads in particular through these important career milestones. It’s not necessary to hold their hands through each one, of course, but to gently provide “coaching and couching” for new hires in the early stages of their employment.
According to Christiansen, some of the most important firsts for new hires are their first:
Having someone from within the organization responsible for guiding new hires through these firsts is very important to prevent any mistakes in protocol, misunderstandings, or—at worst—customer service errors.
This is the main question that new hires will be asked as they leave the confines of your organization and, oftentimes, the quality of the onboarding program will determine the quality of the answer. What happens to the company brand when an ex- or current employee raves about the organization to his or her friends, family, and social media connections? Alternatively, what happens when they talk negatively about the company?
When onboarding experiences are on point, the company receives the ancillary benefit of arming new hires with positive stories they can share both online and off. This is critical to leverage because new hires are not only the future of the company, but they are also its best marketers and recruiters. It’s up to you to ensure they get off on the right foot with proper onboarding and understand how to become solid ambassadors for the organization.
Posted March 2016. This article is adapted from “All Aboard! Take Your Onboarding Program From Lackluster to Blockbuster” by Emily Bennington, which appeared in the April 2012 issue of the NACE Journal.
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