A 4-step guide for designing your employee onboarding process

Here is a 4-step guide for designing your employee onboarding process:

STEP 1: Set your goals before designing your employee onboarding process

Here are some examples of short-term tactical goals:

  • Get the basics right before day one (paperwork, laptop ready, email, etc)
  • Save time on repetitive tasks for HR
  • Reduce the number of failed hires
  • Reduce unwanted turnover
  • Reduce time-to-productivity for new hires

Here are some examples of long-term strategic goals:

  • Improve employer branding and become a more attractive place to work
  • Create a sense of community across the organization
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Develop cohesion: one company, one culture

These points above can also be used to calculate a business case so you can invest time and resources into tools to designing your employee onboarding process, and also get the whole organization to follow it consistently.

Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success



STEP 2: Conduct interviews using guided questions.

This step is often missed. Interviews, especially for outgoing employees, have tended to be considered time wasters. We recommend conducting onboarding interviews with employees and managers and then use this information to understand what can be improved. Likewise, data from exit interviews with employees who do not stay in the company beyond 120 days can be extremely helpful to understand what went wrong and how you can make improvements.

Read the blog post about the 6C’s framework to get ideas on what questions you should ask in the interviews or check out step 3.

STEP 3: Use our top 10 insights to build a list of questions relevant to your organization for both onboarding and exit interviews.

1. There is no consistency in our onboarding process. Things don’t get done or don’t get done the right way. Depending on the manager, time of year, department, or location, people receive different onboarding experiences. Some learn about the culture, connect with others, and are briefed by managers on expectations. Others are given the basic training and you just hope for the best.

2. Managers do not have the time, or the skills needed to give their hires a good onboarding experience. Some managers treat their employees as their own children while others have a sink or swim mindset.

3. You do not measure onboarding success. This is a common problem, and most companies have no clue why some employees succeed, and others fail. Companies tend to blame the new employee, saying it was a wrong hire, but if the company does not have insights as to why the person failed, it is not possible to really diagnose. Surveys of new hires, either quantitative or qualitative, are advised before any assumptions are made.

4. HR does not have time to follow up on each new employee over prolonged periods of time, and managers are busy. There’s a good chance that employees feel lost in your organization. This is a real problem for larger companies that hire hundreds of employees.

5. You do not make people feel special, seen, or valued. When hiring a lot of people companies lose the personal touch that smaller companies have and give their new hires. Lack of time and no one being in charge of looking after each new hire, something a buddy/mentor can facilitate, is a concerning issue raised by many people we speak to.

6. The recruiters oversell the positions. This is a common problem that happens when recruiters themselves are being measured on acquiring the best talent, and during the process, they over-sell the positive features of the job and leave out the downsides. If employees do not feel that their expectations meet reality, they’re likely to quickly lose interest when surveyed. 61% of new hires do not think their new job lives up to their expectations and feel cheated.1

7. Information overload as well as not having the information you need. A paradox perhaps, but not unexpected if you think about the full email inboxes and massive amounts of communication that we all receive and experience in the first days of a job. New hires need to receive, read, and understand large volumes of information but you need to make sure not to swamp them.

8. It is daunting to start in larger organizations. It is not uncommon that employees do not know where to go to find help, and many shy away from asking even the simplest of questions such as when will they get paid. More sensitive questions are often kept unasked to avoid judgment, such as “can I date a coworker?”, “what happens if I come late to work?”, “what is the policy on working from home?”

9. Things just slip through the cracks. Equipment and software are often not organized for the first day at work and there are many cases where management has forgotten that a new hire is starting on a particular day. Other similar examples are forgetting to do tasks and training in time or forgetting to enroll people in events and courses.

10. Time spent on simple, repetitive, and mundane tasks. Some companies are still running their business as they did 20 years ago or using outdated clunky software to do onboarding.

STEP 4: Book time with an expert to discuss the best practices

If you can relate to any of the above, you’re on the right path to designing your employee onboarding process.
If you want to set up a 15-minute call with the onboarding experts here at Preppio, we are happy to give you some tailored advice to help you get started for free:



Employee preboarding: The missed opportunity

Employee preboarding: The missed opportunity

I spoke to a CHRO recently and she told me about their employee preboarding process in these terms: “We don’t want to get the fish on land just to leave it there for dead. That is how I feel about our employee preboarding process like it is today”.

Overoptimizing the hiring process and underoptimizing the preboarding process? 

Recruiters often sell the job to the candidates and they feel highly valued and engaged after they have signed the contract, only to feel like a commodity after contracts are signed because there was a lack of communication and follow-up.

This over-optimization is also shown in another statistic you can check in your own company; how many talent acquisition/recruiters work for every employee experience and people operations at your company? Just like it does not make sense to only have salespeople and without a customer team, it does not make sense to just get people in without ensuring that they are set up for success. In sales language, it leads to customer churn, in people operation/human capital terms it leads to employee turnover.

If employees do not feel that their expectations meet reality, they are likely to lose interest quickly. When surveyed, 61% of new hires state that they do not think their new job lives up to their expectations and feel cheated.  2

When your company has invested so much in hiring a new employee, it only makes sense to not leave them feeling like dead fish after contracts are signed.

However, it’s strange that so few companies stand out from the crowd and invest more in the employee preboarding experience.

Take the employee perspective

In the period leading up to the first day, it’s natural for employees to be a little anxious and nervous, perhaps even a little doubtful. Same as the first day of school. Everyone wants to feel like they’re joining a workplace that supports them and a company that looks forward to supporting them.

As part of these pre-first day jitters, employees create their own set of expectations for the new role. They might search online to learn about the company’s staff and perhaps even make contact with future colleagues. The days and weeks leading up to the first day is powerful. It’s a time when we forge ideas about how the new job will be and try to keep our nerves under control as we wonder how we’ll perform and fit in.

Scared Kumail Nanjiani GIF by Team Coco

Will they meet people that might become their friends? What will the career opportunities be like? What we don’t know are the untold stories about bad past work experiences, such as a difficult or ineffective manager or a dysfunctional culture that, troublingly, could also play out as a source of mild or more severe trauma.

But what if there is not a good preboarding experience before day one? It follows that any negative feelings might be dialed right up, leaving the positive ones lagging behind. This begs the question – why not control this and give employees what they crave?

Reduce no show rates with personalized automation

One of our clients in the airline industry struggled with employees signing a contract but never showing up for day one. They reduced the number of employee no-shows by 75% with the following change in the process; After conducting surveys, the airline business in question realized that while they had a highly sophisticated system of automating communication, tasks, and training to the new hires, they’d forgotten about the employee experience. Their process did not drive engagement and connection in the preboarding stage as it was too focused on the tasks.

In response, they changed the onboarding process slightly by automating two messages instructing HR or hiring managers to call the new hire to congratulate them on their new job and ask if they had any questions. This new practice created a sense of belonging to the company and made it real that there is actually a human being, perhaps even a team, waiting for the new hire’s arrival. This is a great example of automation in the Preppio solution to humanize the onboarding experience.

Other clients we work with have reduced no-show rates by asking new hires to add teammates on LinkedIn, listen to a podcast about the culture in the company (A CEO podcast episode is a good idea), or get a call from a buddy.

Test Preppio’s preboarding software on your phone:



It takes a village 

The whole company needs to adopt an onboarding mindset and preboarding is a critical component. The company should not let the excitement and enthusiasm and energy of all new hires go to waste. Creating perceptions and building actions to demonstrate that the company genuinely cares about a new hire starting requires some effort from the business’ internal stakeholders. This is not a mindset that pats managers on the back for checking off boxes. Rather, it’s a mindset that facilitates employee success by using tools to make it easy for all stakeholders to be onboarding champions.

The organization’s focus on its success, story, plans, and mission are great things to communicate, but even better is creating an onboarding experience that allows the new hire to be the hero of the story. In other words, the importance of ‘You’ in order for ‘Us’ to reach our mission!

The fact that “You were carefully selected from the vast numbers of people applying for the job, because of the fact that we believe you can help us” – is exactly how to speak to people that join. The first days should be about giving new hires confidence, connection, clarification, culture – not information overload.

In a research paper by Talya Bauer, our very own Chief Scientific Officer, competitive advantage was seen to strengthen in those organizations that capitalize on their talents. Talya found in one study that organizations judged to be the best onboarders have a retention rate of as high as 91 percent after the first year of employment compared to just 30 percent for the organizations assessed as the worst onboarders. Similarly, new hires who had good onboarding experiences achieved results of 71 percent for hires in the first year compared to only 17 percent for the poorest onboarders. 3

 

Aberdeen Group survey 2013

Preboarding checklists VS preboarding software?

 

Busy managers often forget to do the tasks on the checklist or things fall between the cracks. If managers and people operation teams do not have a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that critical things like ordering the equipment or setting up the desk are done in time, it will lead to bad results. It would be strange to not give the customer success department a CRM tool to ensure customers get a good onboarding experience, the same should apply for employee pre- and onboarding!

Check Checkmark GIF by MOST EXPENSIVEST

Do you have an onboarding system in place that makes sure your new hires feel cared for and set up for success when they arrive on day one? If you still are a bad HRIS onboarding module, spreadsheets, e-mails, or have a checklist that you hope people follow, you should consider using Preppio’s research-backed onboarding software. It is like a CRM for your people operation teams that go beyond the checklist and create a personalized WOW experience for new hires while making the job of being a hiring manager easier!

Test Preppio’s preboarding software on your phone:




The business case for onboarding

Globally, onboarding has evolved into a mature HR practice. Successful strategic onboarding is especially important given the increasing pace of change and mobility. Research has shown, time and time again, that onboarding has the power to influence whether new employees decide to stick with or leave an organization. So, what is the business case for onboarding and why does it matter?

80% of new employees decide whether or not to stay with their new organization within the first few months, yet most organizations are aware they don’t execute onboarding well.

In fact, when Gallup4 asked employees about onboarding, 88% indicated that they didn’t think their organization was good at onboarding. And those in charge agree with 76% of HR leaders reporting that they believe they are ineffectively onboarding their new employees.

The three top reasons managers gave for neglecting onboarding are:

  • 57% noted not having enough time
  • 55% noted the absence of tools to measure its effectiveness, and
  • 39% reported the lack of digital onboarding technology to automate the process was challenging

There’s a strong correlation between the approach a company adopts to its onboarding and the results achieved by employees and businesses. We acknowledge that the more maturity a company has around onboarding, the greater chance of it investing in sound strategic onboarding practices.

What is the business case of engagement onboarding? 

Acknowledging the role that ‘engagement’ plays is also a key stepping-stone to understanding the business case of onboarding. It’s a popular buzzword in the world of brand marketing and is a word commonly used to benchmark our relationship to the world around us. So too, its significance should not be underestimated in the context of the workplace. Consider the following:

1) The importance of engagement in relation to providing employees with a sense of purpose and
2) Why purpose is critical to driving healthy engagement levels.

Let’s put it another way. To be truly productive in our work, we have to be engaged. To be engaged we have to have a purpose. The challenge for both is resources. Without appropriate resources managers are forced to be task-focused rather than purpose-driven which essentially sabotages engagement. Once disengaged, productivity suffers. It’s a vicious cycle.

As the below diagram shows - culture, connection, clarification, and the WOW factor are major contributors to employee engagement levels.

Business case of onboarding

People generally have no problem doing mundane and repetitive tasks as long as it leads to other intrinsic rewards. These rewards could include connecting with customers and colleagues, making the world a better place, feelings of accomplishment, seeing their part in something bigger, or perhaps even career advancement in the long run.

Whatever the reward, a good onboarding process recognizes these factors and helps employees understand why they are doing, what they are doing.

Give your people the CEO treatment

As part of our research, we spoke to a CEO of a large airline who noted that the best investment he made in the early days of joining the organization was getting to know the business.

It’s a normal and valid concern to be worried about a leadership change, this is why listening to people and creating reports is key for new CEOs and leaders to be able to make the changes they want. The higher you are in an organization the more time and effort is required for that individual to get to know the business and its people.

The question is - shouldn’t the same apply to the rest of us? Under the middle tier of management down to the ranks of junior employees, and especially frontline customer-facing employees, we consistently see examples of onboarding executed at its worst.

So have a think about this. What would happen to the frontline worker if they received the CEO treatment during onboarding? Do you think this would increase the chances of them staying with your company for longer? With a dose of CEO treatment, would a frontline worker be more likely to become a manager and a highly engaged fan of the business?

We know it is impossible to give new hires the CEO treatment. This analogy is simply used to drive your understanding of the CEO treatment idea. Exceeding new hire expectations and ensuring that employees feel valued should be factored into the design of your onboarding program. By doing so, employees’ success rates will be maximized. By continuously asking how these success rates relate to business success you will build the business case to introduce strategic onboarding.

Onboarding is good for your brand

A brand is a promise. Part of this promise is the delivery of service and quality standards that meet or exceed customer expectations. This in turn is carefully managed over time to build customer loyalty and positive brand perceptions. All great brands strive to exceed customer expectations. So, what happens when a new hire who has had bad onboarding, is customer-facing?

Redhead Karen GIF by moodman

Due to the link between the customer experience and employee experience, great onboarding is the solution. Our goal is for organizations to adopt an “exceeding expectation” mindset for their brands by integrating this way of thinking early on in their onboarding program.

It’s also worth noting that the lifetime value of each hire goes beyond the duration of that individual’s employment with you. Consider the thousands of employees that come and go after only a short time. It’s likely that they will tell their friends and family about your business, and that conversations about your organization and your brand will be both positive and negative. Optimizing these experiences so that each new hire talks positively about your company no matter how long they stay, is key to creating good employer branding.

When it comes to front-line onboarding, one of the best-in-class companies is Pal’s Sudden Service. CEO Thomas Crosby once said:

"We realized that we are in the education business, just like any school or university."  

This mindset has led to designing and implementing an onboarding process that results in highly engaged employees who stay. At the Assistant Manager level, turnover is 1.4%. At the top end, Pal has lost just seven general managers in 33 years. Meanwhile on the front lines, turnover is lower than the average rate in the industry sitting at 32%. 5

It is easier to convince the organization to invest more in the people you are hiring!

 

Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success



 


Cost of onboarding a new hire (Free Spreadsheet)

What is the cost of onboarding a new hire? 

Is your cost of onboarding a new hire more than it should?

Put simply, ‘bad onboarding’ is an unstructured and haphazard onboarding process that fails to engage early, nurture continuously or monitor growth during the job lifecycle. The consequences of this for both the new hire and the employer, are far-reaching.

The onboarding experts here at Preppio frequently refer to ‘experience and science-based’ onboarding. Our software and methodology focus on the employee experience during the pre and onboarding phases. Preppio’s onboarding software honors people as the true currency of success for companies and organizations. It does this by interlocking mandatory business protocol and corporate needs with a heightened understanding of professional support and growth.

The process is built on the psychology of potential and best practices created by leading scientists. The newly updated 6 C’s employee onboarding framework devised by Preppio’s Chief Scientific Advisor Talya Bauer Ph.D., forms the pillars of the Preppio onboarding experience - Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Connection, and Culture moving into Check-back.

 

Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success



 


The direct and short-term costs of onboarding a new hire:

#1 Direct And Short-Term Cost: New hire Turnover and Retention

Employers have good reason to be nervous given the statistics show that 11% of new hires change their minds about an offer after they’ve signed a contract. 60% of these do so because they receive a better offer afterward.6

Additionally, there’s a large body of statistics relevant to employees’ early weeks and months in a job. These vary depending on the job in question. However, what is overwhelmingly common is the high rate of employee departure that hits as early as 45 days all the way through to 18 months.

  • 28% of new hires quit before reaching 90 days on the job7
  • 22% of new hires that quit do so in the first 45 days 8
  • 50% of hourly workers quit within the first 120 days9
  • 50% of senior outside hires recruited to a new position fail within 18 months 10

#2 Direct and Short-Term Cost: New hire Time to Productivity 

Organizations recoup the highest onboarding return on investment in the area of time to productivity. This is the time it takes an new hire to deliver actual value to the organization. We have all heard about the disastrous first day where managers forget to order the IT and tools needed, or forgetting to book employees for training. How much time is wasted in the first days of not getting employees to a flying start in your organization?

#3 Direct and Short-Term Cost: Failed Hiring or Derailed New employees?

The industry frequently uses the term ‘bad hire’ or ‘failed hire’. It’s one that has connotations of blame that squarely sits with the new hire. At Preppio we avoid using this term as we believe there’s more to an employee not working out than meets the eye. Some new hires will never succeed as a result of a bad or unlucky recruiting process, but most have the potential to become star employees. Failure in recruiting is more often than failure in onboarding of the new hire.

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of new hires will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. Interestingly, and contrary to popular belief, technical skills are not the primary reason why new hires fail; instead, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list.

shining schitts creek GIF by CBC

#4 Direct and Short-Term Cost: Time Spent by HR, Managers, and New Hires

If you’re still doing things manually with email as your go-to way of communicating to new hires and other staff, you’re likely to be surprised at just how much time you are spending chasing, advising, re-doing tasks – all with no defined objective.

When speaking with Preppio’s customers we found that the average onboarding program has 56 activities per new hire across all stakeholders including managers, buddies, IT, and HR. The number of onboarding activities increases the larger the organization.

Of course, this number depends on the type of employee and the onboarding program implemented, but streamlining this process guarantees that onboarding is standardized instead of left to chance.

Want to learn the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

👉Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet  👈

 

The indirect and long-term costs affect your organization!

#1 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: New hire Engagement

One of the typical onboarding pain-points for managers is time. This means they are focused on tasks rather than orienting new hires into the broader business objectives of the company and its brand. In order for employees to have a sense of purpose at work, their roles should be consistent with the higher objectives of the business.

Without the opportunity for new hires to connect with a higher business goal, the employee’s level of engagement slowly decreases and along with it, so too does his interest in the role. This is where culture plays an important role in bringing a different quality of connection with co-workers.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published in the MIT Loan Management review 11 showed that participation in onboarding where new hires were encouraged to apply their unique personal strengths to their jobs, making it easier for employers to help them connect with their colleagues, became more engaged in their work and improved retention.

There must be room for personalization and for the new hires to feel special. You might not be able to give the CEO treatment to every single person, but there are plenty of things leaders and HR can do to personalize the onboarding process, at scale!

#2 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Employer Branding and Recruiting

We have talked a lot about the financial consequences to companies as a result of bad onboarding. But what about a business’s intangible assets? A company’s image and reputation are two assets often overlooked. However, a great brand must offer a great brand experience, and if the two don’t align, there’s a problem.

This is where reputation can tarnish your brand credibility. Reputation is made up of a mix of sentiments from clients, your customers, your people (employees), and also potential employees who are your candidates. Individually, each will form judgments about whether to work with you (clients) or work for you (employees). Collectively, these sentiments form an organization’s rating as an employer of choice. Bad onboarding is a common theme when it comes to employee reviews. Investing in the new hire experience in the onboarding phase is critical for employer branding.

lisa simpson GIF

Candidate experience also deserves a mention as it is the stage before onboarding. Successful talent acquisition is directly aligned with the quality of experience which is defined by the series of interactions between new hire and employer.

#3 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Customer Experience, Health, Safety, and Compliance

When it comes to compliance and health and safety most companies work through the necessary “checklist” to satisfy standards. However, what we often hear is that after the first introduction, n tend to lose focus on compliance-related issues as their managers prioritize productivity, inadvertently pressuring them to deliver on their roles.

The purpose of having a deliberate onboarding process with a focus on compliance is to ensure that information is not just read but understood. A designed onboarding program is a productive and efficient way to communicate expectations around behavior in the workplace.

#4 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Company Culture

Much of what has been discussed feeds directly into the company culture. Company culture is an internal expression that the company is doing things right. It’s a reliable barometer. If the culture is right, there’s a greater chance that many of the road-blocks that affect putting a great onboarding process in place won’t exist or be as problematic.

The idea of culture has climbed up the list of priorities for candidates over the years. In fact, the majority of people looking for work consider company culture as being ‘relatively’ important, while 46% claim it’s ‘very’ important.

Just like onboarding, culture is a permanent brand fixture. It’s not something a company chooses to have. Rather, it exists as either good or bad. If we agree that company culture is made up of the many micro-experiences to which a company subjects its candidates, clients, and employees - it follows that the onboarding experience, too, contributes to its culture.

We like think about culture as the way people behave when no one is watching, essentially the habits that we do not think, just do. What kind of culture people see in the early days set the habit culture for. the employee life cycle.

Modern HR teams are not a cost center!

As an HR practitioner, you can deliver impact to your company’s bottom line by improving the employee experience during the pre and onboarding process.

When companies review and assess the business case with our onboarding experts here at Preppio our experience shows that there is often a ten-fold return on the investment. This is substantial and reflects that if there is no investment in people at the critical early stages of employment, issues can manifest not only for the hire but across the business. 

Most HR practitioners we speak to already know that they have a broken onboarding process. What surprises them is the cost and impact it has on the bottom line. The solutions are different from company to company depending on the areas of concern, but the tangible returns across department functions and disciplines - from automating time-consuming tasks, reducing unwanted turnover, speed to productivity, and increased employee engagement - are hard to ignore.

If these key onboarding checkpoints have raised some concerns you may like to access a series of cost of onboarding a new hire Worksheets that we have put together to help organizations delve more deeply into their onboarding requirements!

 

Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?


 


This blog is an excerpt from a chapter in the upcoming book written by Talya Bauer Ph. D, and Amin Fard on employee onboarding. It comes with all the resources you need to revamp your employee onboarding from the ground up.

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New Employee Onboarding Framework

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

This article on "New Employee onboarding framework to maximize employee success" is an excerpt from an upcoming book on employee onboarding written by Talya Bauer, Ph. D., and Amin Fard.

The new employee onboarding framework 

A decade ago, I first developed the 4 C’s of onboarding framework. This was work that was published by the SHRM Foundation (Society for Human Resource Management). The 4 C’s have since evolved into the 5 C’s of Onboarding: Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Connection, and Culture. Further to this, and to add a layer of practicality, I’ve added a 6th C, called Check-back.

While each of the 6 C’s is an important component of onboarding, the higher up the scale your organization is able to go, the more effective your onboarding program becomes.

This framework will instruct you on how to get the best out of your employees and for each individual to get the best out of themselves in their jobs. The best onboarding solutions have the employee experience at their core. 

 

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Are you revamping your onboarding process and need best practices and resources? Join our onboarding community and get access to full chapters of the book on onboarding we have written, resources, and best practices by signing up for our expert advice newsletter here.


How my interest in employee onboarding started

I have been studying the onboarding process for 25 years. In fact, my Ph.D. dissertation at Purdue University included a study of new college graduates entering a variety of jobs. I surveyed college graduates across campus before they graduated and several times after they’d started their new jobs.

My work looked at a set of predictions specific to different stages and behaviors, and the relationship of these to important outcomes such as new employee performance, job satisfaction, and retention. This included what happened during the recruitment process, what the manager did while the new employee was being onboarded, and what the new employee did themselves.

After spending 12 months following new employees into their new jobs and studying their onboarding successes and failures, many of my predictions turned out to be true. In fact, over the past two and half decades, I have been amazed at how powerful the onboarding process is, and the direct impact onboarding has on these important outcomes.

30 years on

Over the last three decades that I have been studying onboarding, a lot has changed. Onboarding began as what we now think of as orientation programs to complete paperwork and to orient new employees in their jobs. These orientations were rarely considered a source of competitive advantage. That changed as onboarding became the increasingly hot talent management topic that it is today.

My own research, and that of many other academics, has consistently shown that effective onboarding leads to faster adjustment, better job attitudes, more customer referrals, better performance, and stronger retention. But that’s only the case if it is done right.

As more and more organizations focused on onboarding and began considering the need to rethink their onboarding process, best practices began to be discovered and shared. That’s great news for those interested in helping employees and organizations to create vibrant and effective workplaces together.

You can learn more about my 5 keys to success in this article here where I dive a bit deeper into the onboarding process.

What’s to gain?

When onboarding goes well, individuals and organizations thrive. When onboarding goes poorly, the negative outcomes can be equally powerful with high levels of dissatisfaction, low engagement, poor performance, and high turnover. The statistics are sobering with half of all hourly workers leaving their new jobs within the first 120 days, and half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position.

All it takes is understanding which tools or levers are available to the organization to help new employees thrive. As I conducted research and reviewed what worked and what didn’t, I realized that the key levers could be identified and broken down into core components.

Relationships matter

They matter primarily because relationships connect us as human beings. Few would actively disagree with such a statement. However, successful relationships require intention and effort. Interestingly, when it comes to onboarding, many organizations assume that a new employee’s need to belong and to connect with colleagues will happen with time. It might – but then again, it might not. By helping organizations to develop proactive and strategic onboarding approaches that cultivate a sense of connection and belonging for new employees, these relationships are not left to chance.

Season 7 Nbc GIF by The Office

The manager holds a special key to the connection process. In research I conducted with a colleague, we found that being unable to establish meaningful connections with co-workers led new engineers to seek less information. However, if the new engineer and his or her manager were able to connect, the newcomer could overcome this hurdle even in the face of conflict with co-workers. In other words, the relationship the new employee has with his or her manager was crucial to establishing a sense of belongingness in the organization and this relationship enabled them to freely seek information from the supervisor. Hence, these employees were positioned to succeed in the organization.

The sink-or-swim mentality is a thing of the past

It’s a risky strategy to rely on new employees to “sink or swim” when it comes to connecting with their co-workers and managers. Organizations can help new employees maximize success by engaging in onboarding best practices. These are based on research, consulting, and observations regarding new employee success that consistently show that when you invest in new employees, they invest back into their co-workers, customers, and the organization.

 

Employee Onboarding Checklist

What experience do you offer your new hires in their first 90 days? Take a look at Talya Bauer PhD.'s Onboarding Checklist to see if you have covered the basics.


The evolution of the onboarding framework from 4 C’s to the 6 C’s 

Organizations that focus on the 6 C’s demonstrate more successful onboarding and business outcomes than those that do not.

Compliance - first the housekeeping

Compliance refers to the mandatory actionable of all new employees such as completing paperwork, the badging process, and provisioning tasks like equipping new employees with computers and phones as well as a workspace. Organizations, even those that claim they do not have a formal onboarding program, must be compliant to stay in business. Due to this, many employees spend their first day on the job filling out forms. This is a missed opportunity.

Organizations spend millions of hours and billions of dollars working through the recruitment funnel to attract candidates, identify qualified candidates, assess candidates, and then finally hire them with the hope that they join the organization. The irony is that they spend much less time thinking about ways to improve the employee experience.

Clarification of employee roles and expectations

Clarification refers to how well new employees understand their roles and performance expectations. Of course, organizations hire new employees to do specific jobs so clarifying what they need to be doing, how to do it, and how the organization functions in terms of rules and policies, is important.

We also know that structure and clarity are important for individual and team success, but spending time learning these basics isn’t the most exciting way to spend your time when you’re new. It’s important to build in ways to help new employees understand what is expected of them and to make them feel equipped and supported in their decision to join your organization and give them confidence in their ability to do a good job. This feeds into the next ‘C’.
Building new employee confidence

 

Helping employees build meaningful connections

 

Connection refers to how accepted and valued new employees feel. When new employees feel connected to their colleagues, they feel safe. Research has consistently shown that a sense of connection leads to various positive individual and organizational outcomes. When new employees feel connected and safe, they ask questions and try new things. Additionally, they engage more fully with their co-workers, their role, and the organization with a greater sense of appreciation. It is a factor that helps new employees feel that they made the right decision to join the organization.

Gallup has consistently found that having a close friend at work is related to a 50% boost in job satisfaction and that those employees with a best friend at work were seven times more likely to fully engage with their work. This starts with onboarding. If new employees feel alone and isolated on their first day, it can be challenging to recover, as researchers found at Microsoft.

Building employee Confidence

Confidence refers to employees’ feelings about doing the job well and their competence to tackle new challenges. It is a state of mind. While an organization cannot directly help new employees feel better about themselves, they can design onboarding experiences that help build up employees rather than tearing them down. When employees feel more confident, they are more likely to feel good about those around them as well as the choice to join your organization.

Research conducted by Dan Cable 12 and his colleagues found that when onboarding focuses on the value of the new employee and encourages him/her to share themselves at work, it can immediately increase performance and retention.

Shared cultures are always evolving

Culture13 refers to how well new employees understand the norms, values, stories, and symbols of their new organization. Onboarding is one of the key ways through which organizational culture is formed, maintained, and changed. When I was working at Google we focused on onboarding as a KPI in People Operations because the number of new employees at Google was forecast to double within 18 months. That turned out to be true. It was imperative that we identified what the Google culture was and how this growth would impact it. One important consideration was acknowledging the stories about how the company was founded yet respecting that its norms, missions, and goals were constantly evolving.

Onboarding is a great way to teach your people about what matters within your organization. It is also a great way to learn about how your organization can evolve for the better and learn about the contributions of new employees to the organization’s future.

Onboarding check-backs are critical for long-term success.

Checkback refers to onboarding feedback. The data you receive about the employee experience will be invaluable. As you can see, there are big benefits to executing onboarding in a purposeful and planful manner. Yet even the best onboarding plans sometimes don’t turn out the way we hope. This is one reason why it is so important for all onboarding programs to include the sixth C of Check-back. 

The only way to know if your onboarding programs are working is to ask new employees. Schedule a check-back time with new employees even before they start, and be sure to let them know what you’ll be wanting to know. You should also survey managers and other stakeholders to assess what is working, what should be repeated for future newcomers, and what needs to be adjusted to ensure a world-class onboarding experience. The Check-back insights will help you benchmark results, find problems, and improve areas that need attention. These will support your business case to drive change in the organization and iterate and improve areas that need attention.

 

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This blog is an excerpt from a chapter in the upcoming book written by Talya Bauer Ph. D, and Amin Fard on employee onboarding. It comes with all the resources you need to revamp your employee onboarding from the ground up.



Reboarding/onboarding - Cheat-Sheet

Time is not on anyone’s side these days, so we’ve created a Cheat Sheet from our Reboarding Webinar to accompany the recording, key points of which we share here:

Benefits of onboarding/reboarding
When this process is done intentionally, we get employees with better attitudes at work, more confident employees, and those with greater role clarity.
Employees feel more accepted, have higher job satisfaction and higher job commitment.
Onboarding gives us more engaged employees, higher referrals, higher safety behavior (fewer accidents), better performance, and longer retention

✔What does Compliance mean?
That’s right. This is not the fun part about starting a new job. Compliance refers to signing legal documents/contracts, tax forms, rules/policies/procedures that may also be available in the employee handbook.
Compliance includes provisioning such as issuing passwords, email logins, system logins, intranet, and collaborative tools that your organization might use.
Provisioning also includes badging, meeting room systems, and availability, knowing the space such as the location of restrooms and other facilities.

✔The importance of Confidence & Best Practice
Onboarding done well taps into the ‘effective zone’ which leads to positive behavior too.
Confidence breeds a new level of curiosity. People are more likely to ask questions and engage in their own clarification process. If we design things that make people more confident, they will be more effective.
Promote confidence by giving employees challenging experiences and situations they need to overcome for longer-term confidence building.

✔The Importance of Clarity & Best Practice
Support the work-family balancing act. Larger corporations have always been good at this. Today, we’re seeing this expectation from smaller businesses.
Communicate to the right people, at the right time, in the right way.
Clarify key points and messaging repeatedly. Distractions and stress require repeated communication. Be creative in the way you present information more than once.

✔The Importance of Connection & Best Practice
Very few companies tap into connection effectively and productively.
The rise of the human. Emotions are permitted. Kids and pets in Zoom calls are today’s norm.
Gallup Polls have found that having a best friend/colleague at work is the number one predictor of someone staying long term in an organization.
What are you putting in place given the trajectory of WFH?
Employers are rebuilding trust through communication. Saying and thinking through what you need to do and having the understanding from your employees, about why things are being done as they are.
If your organization has skilled communicators and can get your messages across effectively, you’re ahead of the pack.

✔The Importance of Culture & Best Practice
Different ways of working demand that onboarding practices adjust in order to support evolving workplace cultures. How is your culture being affected?
What are your goals for the culture of the company?
What is it that makes you different qualitatively from other organizations?
Be sure to adjust your rules and policies to reflect the new cultural norm in your organization and outside of it, in a healthy and positive way.
Apply the 6C’s to your reboarding and onboarding practices.

✔Onboarding best practice tips:
Successful onboarding occurs over time. Give your team up to a year to deliver an effective program. And remember, employee onboarding is more than orientation, and an employee onboarding checklist
Strategic onboarding requires multiple interventions. It’s not a single event. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Onboarding should be supported by multiple resources. Think through the opportunities you have with the stakeholders involved. Inspire and engage.
Automation will take your new onboarding program to a whole new level.
Time is saved, consistency is achieved, employee engagement converts to higher retention, productivity, and ultimately profits.

Do you want an obligation-free, one-on-one workshop to help you rewrite your onboarding messaging?

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If you’d like to listen to Talya Bauer and Amin Fard’s Reboarding Webinar in full, click through to it here.


Top 6 Employee Onboarding Challenges

Top 6 employee onboarding challenges to help you identify your company’s roadblocks when designing your new employee onboarding process!

Onboarding challenges are not just getting the paperwork, new hire orientation, and employee training - but the A-Z of employee experience from the contract is signed and the first 3-12 months in the new job. 

Challenge #1: Low Investment in employee onboarding

Onboarding is becoming a strategic growth area. This is particularly the case in companies that need to attract and retain top talent, with a high level of maturity, where HR’s focus is shifting from compliance to experience. The companies that will benefit over time are those that are open to the broad and beneficial outcomes that deeply considered recruiting solutions offer. This strategic approach reinforces that onboarding is an investment that can solve many of the people challenges that come later in the employee journey. 

Challenge #2: Haphazard onboarding and managers failing to give a great experience

The onboarding process is usually left to local managers to handle. Some give new hires a WOW experience, others can fall embarrassingly and drastically short. Unsurprisingly, it’s easier for HR to create a new and consistent onboarding process than to rely on managers, who often end up being none other than a headache for HR. Managers are busy and are rarely trained to give new hires the positive employee onboarding experience they need, to kick-start early employee engagement that in turn will drive a sustainable career with your company. How can you expect to get a good company culture, when the employee's first days and weeks are not optimized by the manager to create the right habits? Preppio’s science-backed, automated onboarding software takes the guess-work out achieving employee success and company profitability.

Are you looking to your human resources or your technological resources to resolve this employee onboarding issue?

 

Employee Onboarding Checklist

What experience do you offer your new hires in their first 90 days? Take a look at Talya Bauer PhD.'s Onboarding Checklist to see if you have covered the basics.


 

Challenge #3: Disconnect between hiring and onboarding processes

Talent acquisition is a key function in business and has always had our full attention. It follows that companies invest considerable time and resources in the selection and recruiting process, which is a stark comparison to the new hire’s first weeks and months in the job often. This disconnect is an issue if we acknowledge that employees make up their minds about liking a new job and move into the post-evaluation process as early as the day they sign an agreement with you. We can categorically conclude is that onboarding matters


What experience do you offer your new hires in their first 90 days? Take a look at Talya Bauer PhD. employee onboarding checklist to see if you have covered the basics.

Challenge #4: Lack of employee engagement

If there is one word that comes up time and time again, it’s engagement. It’s a quality that has a far-reaching impact on new hires and those responsible for implementing the onboarding process. Low engagement leads to low productivity, HR and operations inconsistency, poor connection with peers, and challenging workplace relationships on the job. When we consider that 70% of an employee’s experience is related to their direct manager, we can see why it’s important to recognize their role in this process, and that educating, coaching, and supporting managers is key if we are to build positive and lasting relationships amongst team members. Only then will we see and feel real change. 

Are your managers driving new hire engagement, and how? 

Challenge #5: On-the job-training of frontline employees is unsatisfactory

Onboarding high volumes of knowledge-workers and frontline workers is a real-world challenge in corporations the world over. This applies to any customer-facing brand - think national retail franchises, utilities, telecoms, and infrastructure companies. HR can create a great onboarding process, but because they simply do not have the time and resources to provide the experience that new employees expect and deserve. The outcome is not only a worrying variation in results but one leaving local managers to do the work and finding themselves without the time and knowledge needed to give a great and consistent experience to all. 

As a manager, how are you ensuring that your entire staff is up to speed?

Challenge # 6: The orchestration between stakeholders often fails 

Identifying who is involved in each employee’s day-to-day, who their reports are, and who should be pulled into the ecosystem of communication requires asking the right questions and understanding the responsibilities of individual employees. Communication channels must be integrated, enhancing consistency and keeping everyone on the same page. Identifying key team players and their responsibilities in the employee onboarding process can be facilitated with ease using onboarding software. That way all new hires are appropriately supported, getting to work with higher productivity levels, while managers are freed up to get their jobs done too.

Do you know who your stakeholders are and do you have a system that ensures that things do not fall between the cracks? 

 

Employee Onboarding Checklist

What experience do you offer your new hires in their first 90 days? Take a look at Talya Bauer PhD.'s Onboarding Checklist to see if you have covered the basics.



Case Study: How Lyse Succeeded at Virtual Onboarding in a Remote World

Lyse is a Norwegian Group operating within the fields of energy, telecommunications and electricity grid. The groups consist of 10 subsidiaries which are wholly owned companies with over 1200 employees.

The Onboarding Problem

  • It often takes time for new employees to get to productivity. 
  • Fragmented and inconsistency in the onboarding
  • Turnover in the first 30 days

"Preppio has been crucial for us to support, inform and onboard new hires and their managers during social distancing and work from home."

Marte Mellemstrand

HR Coordinator

The Solution

  • Their goal is to implement an onboarding process that would get new hires up to speed quicker.
  • Help managers give all new hires an onboarding experience that was standardized within the different business units.
  • Give new hires confidence, connection, and integrate into the culture.

Read the case study to learn how Lyse succeeded with their employee onboarding

Get the Full Case Study

Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Failing?

Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Failing? Here is Why and Best Practices

By Amin Fard, CEO Preppio

Learn how to transform your new hire onboarding with scientifically-driven onboarding best practices that result in reducing the cost of turnover and increased employee engagement, even in a remote work environment.

Take me right to the onboarding course

Outdated new employee onboarding checklists and programs often result in employee retention issues and staff turnover, According to Gallup only 12% of new hires state that their company does a good job of onboarding, strange when we think of how much we are investing in hiring the same people. With social distancing and remote onboarding, it is even harder for HR and managers to give a consistent and good onboarding experience to new employees.

Why do some new hires fail during onboarding while others succeed?

We spend a lot of time and resources on finding the perfect new person for our company, yet paradoxically, a lot of companies invest minimally when it comes to the onboarding experience of their future employees once the contract is signed. We think of the recruiting process as nature and the onboarding process as nurture. A person you hire comes with a certain “nature”, experience, capabilities, and personal skills, but the onboarding experience is where we have an opportunity to nurture the person into our culture, mindset or a given skill set/and role. Both are equally important for a successful employee onboarding program, so let’s have a look at how to overcome the challenges of mastering both areas. The employee onboarding process in most organizations has for too long been overlooked and outdated or left to local managers or a busy HR department with no one really owning the onboarding process. "Death by PowerPoint" during new hire orientation day or sending an onboarding checklist to hiring managers once and hoping they follow it years later, often results in employee retention issues and staff turnover. 

Overcoming the Challenge of Remote Onboarding

Finding good ‘employee-to-job fit’ is more difficult than ever in the current climate where so much employee communications have moved online to platforms like Teams, Zoom, or Workplace by Facebook. Put yourself in the shoes of the new employee to remember the anticipation, nerves, and loneliness most new hires experience when entering a new organization. Such emotions are only heightened in a world where it’s more difficult to meet face-to-face and interact with others during your first time in a new job. Now more than ever the nurture part of hiring is critical to ensure successful employee onboarding, and happy employees. But what does nurturing look like in a virtual world? Most companies already have digital learning platforms and one-size-fits-all e-learning systems, however, many such systems fail to meet the needs and expectations of today’s incoming employees.

Science-based Onboarding is More Important Than Ever

According to Talya Bauer Phd, the foremost authority on employee onboarding who authored the widely used 5 C’s (now 6) of Onboarding, for new hires onboarding is so much more than the paperwork or the Compliance. It is vital for the socialization of people in the Culture, building meaningful Connections, developing employee Confidence, and Clarification throughout the onboarding process. Check back is the latest addition to her framework, and it is all about listening to the new hires and continuously improving the experience over time.

Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Failing?

Companies that lack a structured and science-based onboarding process perform worse on important metrics like employee engagement, time to productivity. According to survey results from staffing agency Robert Half & Associates 22% of new hires that quit, do so within the first 45 days. Even more critical is the turnover in deskless and hourly workforce where a study by Krauss, A. D. (2010) showed that 50% of hourly workers quit within 120 first days.

According to SHRM, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding experience, Clearly, it hurts the bottom line to leave your employee onboarding to chance!

Inconsistent onboarding process or a ‘sink or swim’ mindset for your new hires has never worked well, but in today’s landscape, this type of approach to onboarding can be detrimental and may result in new hires feeling overwhelmed and alone. This is especially true for experienced hires who in such circumstances come to miss the safety net of co-workers to lean on from previous jobs.

Onboarding Experience is at an All-Time Low

Through our research of recent new hires who had recently started their new job in restaurants, call centers, and offices, we learned that employee onboarding experience is at an all-time low due to social distancing and work from home.

You too have probably experienced that onboarding employees are much harder with the recent changes in how we work and interact. A significant part of onboarding happens by people interacting with each other. With many employees working from home or being onboarded remotely, we need more standardized onboarding processes that take each new employee through one, consistent and engaging onboarding experience that motivates the new employee, and ensures they are seen and properly followed upon by others. This way we can build productive employees who instantly feel as if they are part of the organization.

Become an onboarding superstar!

Join our 4-part email course:
HOW TO BUILD A WORLD-CLASS ONBOARDING PROCESS



The Good News

A poor onboarding process is not affecting the unwanted turnover typical in the first months as much as it was before the pandemic. Employees and the organizations know they are in strange times, expectations to onboarding in 2020 are low. At the same time, this is also an opportunity to go above and beyond to improve your new employee experience.

It doesn’t have to take much. Sending a new employee welcome kit from their co-worker or meeting their manager and co-workers for a Zoom- lunch on the first day are examples of small efforts that can make a big impact when expectations are low.

The Bad News

Poor onboarding experiences often boils down to simple things like failure to assign responsibility for a new hire’s success. Managers don’t know what to do or are too busy. HR also lags behind in terms of adapting and upgrading onboarding processes to ensure they are in line with today’s expectations and organizational needs. The outcome is that new employees often are left to their own devices, trying to navigate new territory with no clear map or guidance.

Three key areas that are hurting organizations due to bad remote onboarding:

  1. Unproductive new hires, and time spent getting them up to speed
    • New hires spend a lot of time doing nothing of value or sitting alone with no work to do. 
    • New hires struggle to find help to get work done because they don’t know who to speak with.
    • New hires leaving a bad customer service experience for end customers in the first weeks and months without anyone being there to give them feedback and training
  2. New hires failing and feeling unhappy at work
    • New hires don’t feel a sense of accomplishment due to a lack of on the job learning and support.
    • Finding it hard to succeed at work while feeling like a failure goes both ways, employees feel it, and managers say they made the wrong decision as the person is not independent enough to succeed.
    • New hire work on things that do not result in tangible results for the organization and not directed towards long term success
  3. Culture and employee engagement
    • Lack of community, connection, and socialization for new hires. 
    • A bad start when it comes to culture leads to bad habits that the person will bring with them throughout their life span at an organization.
    • A poor start leads to bad habits that the person will bring with them throughout their life span at an organization.
  4. Lack of clarification, confidence, and connection
    • Recruiters and hiring managers are not good at clarifying the situation, how the company works, and what is expected of the new hires to succeed. Extra important in these different pandemic times.
    • Building confidence is the key to ensuring onboarding success. Small simple tasks that new hires can do on their own have been forgotten and managers have been busier. This leaves new hires with no work or work they are not able to do.
    • Connection is lacking as employees are not feeling like part of their team, do not know about (or believe in) the company mission. This usually happens when they have not been properly introduced to their new co-workers and the company story in the pre-boarding and first weeks on the job.

Quick Pro Tips for Great New Employee Onboarding

  1. Automation is key: HR and hiring managers should not spend their time sending a lot of information manually to each new hire in order to give them the best onboarding experience. Without clear communication onboarding often fails. Sending the right message at the right time and doing so automatically is the secret to success. According to the internal communication company, Poppulo 50% of management emails are not opened by people that work behind a desk and 70% of emails are not opened in deskless workforces. Imagine if you could push onboarding information to new hires, managers, and other onboarding stakeholders in the channels they use most and use software that can automate it for you.
  2. Actionable tips by using automation of onboarding:
    • Send a CEO video to all new hires so they get more invested in the mission of the company in the critical pre-boarding phase.
    • Use SMS during pre-boarding and chat messages in the employee communication platform, because if no one reads the messages you might as well not have sent it.
    • New hires have a lot of questions and some of them might be embarrassing to ask. Is it allowed to date a colleague? What happens if I am late to work? What is the dress code? Information overload happens when sending a long e-mail with too much info. Imagine if you could send bite-sized messages over time to ensure that employees actually retain the information. You could also use an onboarding chatbot in Workplace from Facebook, Microsoft Teams, or Slack where new hires can get answers quickly.
  3. Use a Science and Data-Based Approach: Implementing the 6 C's of onboarding framework and onboarding process is key to ensure onboarding success. According to a study by Brandon Hall Group in 2015 Companies with the top maturity level in employee, onboarding are twice as likely to increase employee engagement versus companies that focus with a lower level of maturity.
    • Build Confidence and connection by giving new hires simple tasks like introducing themselves in Workplace from Facebook or Microsoft teams as part of their onboarding process. Their colleges will greet them and create a social bond, even if done remotely.
    • Clarify the work, progress, and ensure the new hire is aware of what is expected of them. Good habits are created early on!
    • What gets measured gets managed. It can be scary to learn how little employees absorb the critical first weeks, but measuring feedback from new hires onboarding experience creates a culture of caring for your employees. Over time it compounds and impacts your employer branding, engagement, and productivity.
  4. Support managers with the right software: Don’t leave the full burden of employee onboarding to the HR department, make it easy for managers to become onboarding superheroes as well. Develop easy ways to ‘pass the baton’ to the new hire’s manager and help your managers with automated nudges and check-in points throughout the process.
    • Creating a buddy system for your new hires where the senior employees take more responsibility for helping the new employees during onboarding.
    • Get the software to handle the time consuming and boring tasks from the manager’s shoulders, like giving employees access to the right tools, do online intro courses and paperwork.
    • Lunch with managers early days is important for employees to feel a connection, in today's work environment you can nudge managers by (automating) a message 10 days before the start to remind them to send a gift to their house. Imagine the fuzzy feeling the new manager and organization give the new hires when the whole family of the new hire experiences that their new job has taken the time to send a package through mail, it does not take a lot to create engaged employees when expectations are low.

Become an onboarding superstar!

Join our 4-part email course:
HOW TO BUILD A WORLD-CLASS ONBOARDING PROCESS




Employee Onboarding Checklist by Talya Bauer

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

I believe that relationships matter primarily because they connect us as human beings. Few would actively disagree with such a statement. However, successful relationships often require intention and effort. Interestingly, when it comes to onboarding, many organizations assume that a new employee’s need to belong and to connect with colleagues will simply “work itself out” with time. It might – but then again, it might not. Therefore, I’ve made it my mission to help organizations develop proactive and strategic onboarding approaches that cultivate a sense of connection and belonging for new employees.

I first became exposed to the three levers (confidence, clarity, and connection) of successful onboarding over 25 years ago as a doctoral student pursuing my Ph.D. in business at Purdue University. Our early work, which examined research scientists working toward doctoral degrees, indicated that these three levers were important keys to onboarding leading to engagement, effectiveness, and retention. Subsequent research has consistently confirmed these findings and expanded these initial levers to the 6 C’s of onboarding (compliance, confidence, clarity, connection, culture and check back).

 


Get Talya's onboarding checklist:


Helping new employees feel more confident, have greater role clarity, and feel more connected all matter. More importantly, when individuals feel more accepted and connected to those around them, it is easier for them to ask clarifying questions and gain confidence. Thus, when I am working with organizations to help them maximize their onboarding program success, I recommend that after they have dealt with the basics of strong onboarding, they focus on specific ways to help new employees feel welcome and to jumpstart the process of their connections even before they arrive on the first day of their job.

The manager holds a special key to the connection process. In research I conducted with a colleague, we found that being unable to establish meaningful connections with coworkers led new engineers to seek less information. However, if the new engineer and his or her manager were able to connect, the newcomer could overcome this hurdle even in the face of conflict with coworkers. In other words, the relationship the new employee has with his or her manager was crucial to establishing a sense of belongingness in the organization and this relationship enabled them to freely seek information from the supervisor. Hence, these employees were positioned to succeed in the organization.

When it comes to onboarding success, relationships matter. Relying on new employees to “sink or swim” when it comes to connecting with coworkers and managers is a risky strategy. Organizations can help new employees maximize success by engaging in onboarding best practices which I have developed and presented below which are based on research, consulting, and observations regarding new employee success. And, when you invest in new employees, they invest back into their co-workers, customers, and the organization.


Get Talya's onboarding checklist: