Onboarding, I don’t fear you: everything you need to know about the steps, significance and tools for managing the integration of new hires into a company
Arriving at a new company has always been a nerve-racking moment. I can still vividly recall my own experience, searching for any signs and clues that would reassure me “that I had made the right choice” during those initial weeks.
And yes, the first few weeks in a new company can be considered an initiation rite, as it sets the tone for the relationship between the company and the employee. During this period, newcomers pay close attention to reading organisational messages and signals. They encounter moments or touch points that arouse emotions and memories.
The onboarding process holds tremendous significance for new employees, providing them with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the company, their role, objectives and mutual expectations. Proper onboarding can lead to a successful and productive transition for new hires, facilitating their integration into the work environment, promoting collaboration with colleagues and…. preventing last-minute escapes!
The onboarding process can be divided into three main stages: pre-onboarding, onboarding and post-onboarding.
The pre-onboarding stage encompasses activities carried out before the new employee’s first day of work. During this stage, the company should provide information regarding the job position and work environment, inform the new employee about the documentation required to enter the company, provide guidance on accommodation and transportation, and information about the company, its culture and values.
From a human perspective, these actions create a welcoming environment for new employees and introduce them (even in a remote setting) to the workplace.
It is a game of mutual expectations, commitments and emotions that can’t be taken lightly. It is the first impression of the organisation, so it demands meticulous planning and monitoring.
The actual onboarding stage commences on the new employee’s first day of work. During this stage, the onboarding manager should extend a warm welcome to the new employee and acquaint them with the company and its values, explain the employee’s job position and role within the organisation, provide information about job security and privacy policies, and share details about benefits and opportunities for professional growth.
This is the stage in which the new employee meets their co-workers and establishes positive relationships that lay the foundation for a collaborative working environment.
A misstep during this stage can jeopardise the entire induction process and hinder the employee’s ability to contribute constructively to company life right from the start.
Finally, the post-onboarding stage entails following up on the onboarding process in order to assess the success of the new employee’s integration and identify any deficiencies or issues. The onboarding manager schedules follow-up meetings with the new employee to assess their level of satisfaction and to identify any obstacles hindering full integration.
This is a crucial moment to listen and be attentive. It goes without saying that you can only monitor what has been planned in detail. Many companies do not foresee this moment because they have not carefully constructed the first two stages mentioned above and have not clearly assigned the responsibilities.
Why is the onboarding process so critical for a company?
Who among us hasn’t gone through an onboarding process or encountered a negative onboarding process? I could say, “Let the first person without such an experience cast the first stone.”
If you’re having trouble recalling your worst onboarding experience, allow me to jog your memory. Think back to your shortest work experience and those initial “early days.” Chances are something didn’t go right during that early stage, and you (consciously and unconsciously) decided to seek other opportunities. The correlation between a poorly executed onboarding process and low employee retention is very high.
Onboarding is a transitional phase (especially for new employees), and like all moments of change, the equilibrium and stable routines that usually develop later between parties have yet to be established. As a result, critical issues and misunderstandings may arise.
Nonetheless, the onboarding process is critical for companies for several reasons:
- It promotes a smooth transition: A well-executed onboarding process enables new employees to quickly integrate into the workplace and acquaint themselves with company policies, procedures, colleagues and tasks. This expedites their ability to work productively and competently, reducing the learning curve and enhancing business efficiency.
- It increases engagement: a well-structured onboarding process increases a new employee’s sense of belonging to the company, enabling them to understand its mission, vision and values. In this way, new employees will feel more involved and motivated in their work, and consequently be more productive and contribute more to the company’s success.
- It reduces turnover: an efficient onboarding process lowers employee turnover by creating a more welcoming and supportive work environment. Furthermore, a good onboarding process can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes, communication issues and internal conflicts.
- It improves corporate image: a professional onboarding process enhances the company’s image among new employees, customers and suppliers. A positive corporate reputation attracts new talent and contributes to the long-term growth of a company.
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of an onboarding process?
Several factors and success indicators can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of an onboarding process. They include:
- Time spent on productivity: calculate how quickly a new employee becomes fully productive. An effective onboarding process accelerates the newcomer’s productivity.
- Churn rate: assess the turnover rate among new hires in the first few months of employment. A high churn rate is the first indication that the onboarding process is not working properly.
- Feedback from employees: ask new hires to evaluate the onboarding process and provide constructive feedback on their experience. This can help identify areas of improvement. How can this be done? Useful tools in this regard are feedback management platforms that collect feedback to enhance the overall experience. For example, our E-PATHOS solution is very effective in capturing emotional experiences. For example, our E-PATHOS solution is very effective in capturing emotional experiences.
- Performance of new employees: monitor the performance of new employees after the onboarding process is completed. If new employees are able to achieve their goals efficiently, it is a positive sign that the onboarding process was successful.
- Team involvement: evaluate how involved the new employee’s colleagues are in the onboarding process and whether they provide the necessary support to help the new employee integrate into the company. An effective onboarding process should foster a sense of belonging and involvement among team members.
- Team involvement: evaluate how involved the new employee’s colleagues are in the onboarding process and whether they provide the necessary support to help the new employee integrate into the company. Absence rate: monitor the absence rate of new employees in the first months of employment. If the absence rate is high, it could indicate that the onboarding process isn’t ineffective and new employees do not feel engaged or motivated.
As with all aspects of employee experience, the first step is to create a dedicated onboarding journey, examine the supporting processes and technologies (and, if necessary, choose new and better ones) and manage feedback with the possibility of immediate improvement (the “close the loop” approach also applies to the experience).
What should we do?
- First, establish a reasonable onboarding period, which, in my opinion, should not be less than six months.
- Implement an app that supports the entire roadmap.
- Define multiple listening moments, for example, after the first month, the third month and after six months (through surveys and in-depth interviews with individuals outside the direct reporting chain).
- Support the transfer of company values through engaging initiatives that promote an understanding of corporate values (e.g. educational mini-videos
- Provide self-assessment opportunities so that new employees can check their progress.
- Involve the entire team in the success of the onboarding process.
In short, onboarding, I do not fear you! Various actions must be taken and monitored, but if followed step by step, we are confident that they will lead to the desired outcome for both the company and the employee.
Moreover, to gain a clear picture, do not solely rely on the typical notion of “it seems that the new employee is happy…” For their sake, test them with an effective program and a personalised listening path!
In the next instalment, we will look at two more important topics:
- Onboarding of a manager and a C-level executive
- Return of an employee after maternity leave