6 actionable psychology principles to improve employee onboarding

The psychology of persuasion has been applied to sales and marketing for decades to drive revenue and customer loyalty. Why not apply it to the workplace for the benefit of both employer and employee?  The 6 actionable principles below, rooted in science and psychology, can create a better organizational culture and a healthier and more productive workforce when applied during new employee onboarding.

6 actionable psychology principles to strengthen employee onboarding

psychology principles to strengthen employee onboarding

The six principles of persuasion here originated in Dr. Robert B. Cialdini’s book titled ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’. By combining Dr. Cialdini's work with our knowledge about the discipline of onboarding, we have created simple and actionable ways to incorporate these principles into your onboarding process.

1. Reciprocity

 If you give something to someone, it’s highly likely this gesture will be reciprocated. It follows that companies that exceed employee expectations are more likely to have employees that want to do the same. For example, the small cost of cake and balloons on a new hire's first day has the potential to become a worthy investment.

2. Scarcity

If people feel seen, valued, and special they will do more for the company. Mentioning how many people applied for their job is one way of pointing out to employees that they are special and a cut above the rest.

3. Authority

People want to comply with those that have authority. A personal welcome video from the CEO to each new employee is far more impactful than reading the same in a generic e-mail. This video can set the expectations, share the company mission, and explain the culture with far more persuasive power. Learn more about actions that can increase perceived authority before the new hire's first day - click here.

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4. Consistency

People want to follow through with their own commitments. For example, one recent study found that an 18% reduction in missed appointments at health centers could be achieved simply by asking the patients, rather than the staff, to write down future appointment details. Communicating by presenting choices is a strategic way to train employees to apply logical and rational behaviors while empowering them as individuals.

5. Liking

People prefer to say yes to people they like, respect, and admire. Creating a workforce that likes their employer starts with a WOW first impression and welcome. It sets the tone for the rest of the employee life cycle. Liking will come naturally with an excellent onboarding process that is based on the 6 C's framework. Read more here.

6. Consensus/social proof

When people feel uncertain about something they look to others. In the employee onboarding, process companies should use statistics and data or personal stories from the best-in-class parts of the organization to set the standard no matter where in the organization the employees are hired. Sharing positive client stories is another helpful way of showing social proof.

The role of employee onboarding software

All of these same principles that persuade and motivate employees can be set into action with onboarding software.  The right software solution gets everyone engaged in the process, and it also saves time on repetitive tasks with automation.

Click here to read "How automation fuels onboarding best practices and fast tracks business success". Remember these 6 principles are grounded in the psychology of persuasion and it won't be hard to see them at play in the article.

Interested in further reading on the power of persuasion? Read our blog about the ‘Nudge Theory’ here.

Book a 15-minute meeting with our onboarding experts and learn how you can take your employee onboarding to the next level!



Read this before you design your new employee onboarding process

The science behind excellent onboarding

We don't have to tell you how important onboarding is. You wouldn't be here otherwise, right?  But, do you know that there is a scientific framework that increases onboarding effectiveness? Preppio's Chief Scientific Officer, Talya Bauer, Ph.D., developed the 6 C's framework based on years of research. You'll find it in many academic and HR industry publications, but we're distilling it for you here into a quick read. In 3 minutes we'll tell you what the 6 C's are and their impact when you design your new employee onboarding process with them in mind.

Compliance: SAVE TIME

You know the tasks that need to be completed, but getting them done timely and consistently is another story. Paperwork and other compliance-related tasks need to be ready in time to ensure a flying start. More importantly, these action items need to be completed before the new hire's first day during the pre-boarding phase of onboarding. This shortens the time to full productivity by ensuring that new hires have access to the right tools, equipment, and paperwork at the right time.

Preppio helps companies set up a great pre-boarding process to get help save time on practical things. Read this article about pre-boarding to learn more.

Connection: REDUCE NEW HIRE TURNOVER

Human connection is a deep human need, and the very best companies connect new hires to their manager, mission, and co-workers in the pre-boarding phase. A large airline we work with learned this the hard way. They had 200–300 employees ghost them after signing the job offer. The employee no-show rates were reduced to 50 a year after the airline started personally following up with them in the pre-boarding phase.

Why? Because emotions matter. When you show that you care and employees feel like they belong, it is harder for them to quit. This also applies in the later stages of the employee onboarding process. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 20% of employees that quit do so in the first 45 days (1). In the first days and weeks on the job, the key to a well-thought-out and designed onboarding process is connection.

Culture: ATTRACT AND RETAIN TALENT

design your new employee onboarding process

It is important for new hires to quickly learn the culture and "how things are done around here". Connect new hires to your culture by conveying how their role within the company relates to the greater objectives.

Create a story to illustrate how they contribute to the culture.  Your goal is to make the outsider feel like an insider as soon as possible. Culture first onboarding is what makes employees be more engaged - these are your raving fans and really help with your employer branding and recruitment.

Design your new employee onboarding process - Get started with our best practices checklist for new hires


Clarification: SPEED TO PRODUCTIVITY

We believe that clarification is the most underrated of the 6 C’s. It is very powerful when done right, and it should start in the recruitment process. If you do not clarify the role and set expectations, the employees do not have clear goals to move towards and you will have a harder time managing them.

Tell them the standard you expect and it will be easy for new hires to fulfill your needs. It is not uncommon for employees to feel like they have been successfully onboarded, but the managers still feel they are not up to speed. High-performing new hires want to know what to do, where to find help, and what is expected of them. Make it easy for them to know how well they are doing and how they can work towards the organizational goals.

Confidence: INCREASE PERFORMANCE AND RETENTION

Dr. Talya Bauer explains confidence best in this excerpt from her article, "New employee onboarding framework": 

"Confidence refers to how much new employees feel like they can do the job well and 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 and his colleagues found that onboarding, when done right to focus on the value of the new employee and encouraging them to share themselves at work, can immediately increase performance and retention.”

Check Back: CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT AND QUALITY

Have you ever experienced an onboarding process that was clearly outdated? That is, a great onboarding program was developed at one point and then left for years without any follow-up.  Too often we hear from managers who believe they've got a good process, but learn that their employees had a bad onboarding experience.

Without a system of continuous feedback loops, it is hard for you to know how well your employee onboarding program is truly working. Worse, you have no reference for improvement. Onboarding often is the hiring manager's responsibility, but HR is building the onboarding process. Design a system that ensures check backs to ensure that your onboarding is always delivering and that everyone gets a good onboarding experience.

Are you worried your onboarding process might be letting down new hires and onboarding stakeholders? Learn tell-tale signs in our article, Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Failing?

At Preppio we turn HR professionals into onboarding superstars 🤩

Our company is built around one thing: Onboarding.  It's our focus every day, all the time. By staying on top of the latest trends and research we are able to bring you the most important "need to know" onboarding news, tips, and expert advice.

Or, book time with one of our experts to learn more about Preppio's onboarding software



How to choose the best employee onboarding software?

The best onboarding software you can choose create an employee-centric experience.

We created Preppio because today's HRIS solutions are not created to improve the employee experience during onboarding, and HR spends too much of their time on manual and repetitive tasks.

Your new employee onboarding software should not just be a business-centric tool to ensure that the onboarding checklist was marked off for the sake of compliance. The best employee onboarding software goal is to maximize onboarding success for the employee and improve the employee experience in the moments that matter.

Especially in the critical time before onboarding (pre-boarding) and in the early days on the job. It should nudge managers and buddies, and give HR insight into the employee journey!

Download our complete guide here:

Guide to choose the best onboarding software 

Evaluate your current employee onboarding software with these 10 questions

As an HR professional, ask yourself the following 10 questions in relation to your current employee onboarding platform:

  1. Is it focused on the needs of new hires and supporting managers, or just compliance and paperwork during onboarding?
  2. Does it automate mundane and time-consuming tasks such as sending information and motivating people to do tasks?
  3. Are you mixing learning software (LMS) or your HRIS with onboarding software? Onboarding software orchestrates all parts of onboarding like tasks, information, and tools needed to get started.
  4. Is it easy to use for HR, managers, buddies, or new hires so they actually do the things you want them to, and at the right time?
  5. Does it offer an employee onboarding experience layer that helps with engagement and consistency?
  6. Is there a focus on the role of managers and buddies as an important part of onboarding?
  7. Is it focused on each department/location as well as inter-departmental work relationships?
  8. Does the current system measure onboarding success and provide insights for improvements to your onboarding process?
  9. Do your employees feel overwhelmed?  Another app is not what people want and need!
  10. Does the onboarding software take care of pre-boarding and the 6C’s framework?

Onboarding software enhances your strategic onboarding plan

An important point is that onboarding tools are only as good as the content and the process. Most onboarding software vendors are not able to help with implementing a science-based onboarding program for you.

Even with the many useful features of today’s contemporary onboarding software, they tend to come with design faults as they are not laser-focused on the entire employee onboarding experience.

employee onboarding software

Pre-boarding and early employee engagement

If the onboarding process starts in the pre-boarding phase, employees feel like part of the company early, reducing the likelihood of them losing interest in the role and the business.

Following pre-boarding, it is up to the company to manage changing engagement levels and to monitor and check-in with the new hire along the way. At all times it’s crucial that new hires are central to the onboarding process. Their experience must be a finely tuned balancing act that works for both sides. This reinforces the importance of designing the experience to accommodate the 6 C’s of onboarding.

Identifying issues with your current onboarding is a challenge if you’ve got nothing to compare it to. The above diagram, however, might give you an idea of where things are going wrong in your organization. An excellent strategic onboarding plan is planned with engagement and onboarding in mind.

Want to learn step-by-step how to choose the best employee onboarding software for your company?

Download the chapter about how to choose the best onboarding software by clicking the link below!

Guide to choose the best onboarding software 

Or book time to learn more about Preppio's onboarding software:



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.



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.

Download our Free Guide on how to choose the best onboarding software to help you deliver a world-class onboarding experience by clicking on the link below

Free guide to choose the best onboarding software

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.

Download our Free Guide on how to choose the best onboarding software to help you deliver a world-class onboarding experience by clicking on the link below

Free guide to choose the best onboarding software

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.

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