Onboarding can be referred as a process of orienting, interviewing, and successfully integrating newly hired employees into a company’s culture. In reference to Bradt et al. (2011) onboarding strategies provide speedy track to constructive, productive work and strengthened employee relations. Bradt et al. (2011) further argues that orientation of new employees begins before employees’ start date and it is usually extended through for the first six months of employment. Notably, onboarding is a continuous and comprehensive process that extends for a long duration of time rather than a day event. According to Erling (2011) when onboarding new employees, choice, communication and actions make impact on the process; all organs of an organization i.e. Human Resource, payroll all partner with the supervisor and the new employees in the process of the onboarding program. The supervisor is always the person responsible for ensuring success of the new employees. As such, the first impression from the supervisor last, hence it is important for the supervisor to put the best possible first impression. Many organizations follow a manual for new employee onboarding. Such a program is designed to assist the organization in being a critical resource for new employees and it ensures that the new employees make the right decision in joining the organization and make them feel like integral and valued part of the organization. The Program also provides the new employees with information needed to become independently productive as soon as possible. This paper proposes the best new employee onboarding program that can assist to improving the employee’s adaptability and integration into the company’s culture.
Designing Employee Onboarding Programs
Designing onboarding programs starts with addressing some vital elements on effective onboarding. such elements entail; assisting new recruit in building internal and external relationships; ensuring that the new employees understand the major business processes, procedures and policies; communication of organizations goals, vision, values and culture to the new entrants; explaining both short term and long term performance expectations; training leaders to integrate, orient and provide ongoing support to the new employees; and providing regular feedback on job progress, performance and results.
It is fundamental that we ensure that all parties involved in training carry out their part on the process. Sims (2011) states that since the new employees are directed by a manager and supervisor who are involved in many forms of onboarding it is critical that he/she involve them in designing them onboarding process. It may also be essential to include senior leaders and other long term employees while designing the onboarding process to mentor new hires.
Strategic onboarding is business-focuses processes that integrate with talent acquisition or hiring function (Sims, 2011). In reference to Sims (2011) strategic onboarding serves as a bridge between the process of staffing and enabling of new employees to become entirely productive. Organizations that implement strategic onboarding assist individuals in creating relationships and networks that ultimately enable new employees to be more productive and maneuver well within the organization. At this stage organization takes advantage of technology through; online courses, automated forms and new hire portals and also mechanism of ensuring that new employees are integrated speedily into the organizations administration. Sims (2011) indicates that onboard technology also serves as away of increasing communications between the staffing and the recruitment function, as well as, the hiring managers.
Making onboarding most effective
There are several considerations to make onboarding effective, as the managers commence on making improvements to the onboarding strategies. The following consideration should be taken into account;
The importance of onboarding should not be underestimated. The first impressions lasts; according to Sims (2011) new hires who feel welcomed, valued and engaged should have a great inducement to stay and work with the organization. More so, employees who believe they have been abandoned immediately they het hired get a negative impression of the organization from the start.
Integrate the hiring process with onboarding- full integration in to the company takes a round 9-18 months to occur. Yet, many organizations consider that, by hiring the right people for any position, there is no need for the integration process. As such, they rely solely on the recruiting process.
Extend the process of onboarding from three to six months- in reference to Reed and Bogardus (2012) 90% of hires make their decisions to remain with the company in duration of six months. Even with this being the case, fewer than 20% of the companies are willing to extend their onboarding solution for those six months. Reed and Bogardus (2012) indicates that strategic onboarding is more than just an event. It is and experience while the training part of onboarding may comprise of minimal time. Providing support and follow-on to the new employees in elementary and ensures they have transitioned into their new roles. Such hires are perceived to be more as being more productive and valued.
Promoting the values of an organization- onboarding assists employees to understand what it means to be part of a company. Sims (2011) indicates that understanding of business values can persuade the decision for hires to remain with an organization. Reed and Bogardus (2012) further indicates that, employees become more effective in their role and more easily accepted in an organization by others if the understand and demonstrate the organizations values. Communicating company’s values can be done very effectively by their supervisor’s and senior leaders.
Help employees in building internal networks- in keeping with Reed and Bogardus (2012) creating opportunities for networking to commence with require assistance from supervisors and managers responsible for onboarding program. Without being guided it may be hand for the new employees to know whom they should be building relationships. Notably, in the absence of help from the organization it is easy for the new hires to be influenced imperfectly and thus finding themselves in confusion that may eventually hurt their performance as well as, their recognition by other employees.
Addressing Global Aspects in Regard to Onboarding- Arguably, most mid level and large size establishments today have a number of their employees in different parts of the world. As such, a global onboarding program should address the unique cultural variations among different regions where a company has set its branches. This being the case, Reed and Bogardus (2012) states that technology can be a great way to mitigate most challenges that come with integration of employees who are far apart from the organizations headquarter.
Linking Onboarding with Learning- Jyotsna (2007) expounds that assisting employees in finding resources that are effective in their role should be integrate in the onboarding program. Such include access to a fresh hires portal. More so, mentoring also assist to integrate learning in the onboarding process. Mentors are consigned to new employees to assist the in becoming acclimated into the culture and teach them how things are done.
Use Technology- in reference to Jyotsna (2007) technology can accelerate the process of onboarding and assist managers and employees in ensuring that necessary onboarding steps are followed via a tracking system. This can be done through automated forms, new hires portal, and e-learning courses. Jyotsna (2007) states that technology can serve as a method for recruiting to the onboarding practice to hiring managers.
Making Interactive and Engaging Orientation- Jyotsna (2007) argues that in creating an inspiring experience for the new hires, employees are reassured that they made the right decision to join the organization. Hatch (2008) further argues that blending different learning mechanisms together has been proven as an effective method. In reference to Erling (2011) the approach of “one-size-fits-all” does not work. Although many areas may be consistent, there should be a certain degree of customization that must be provided by the hiring manager i.e. a variety of approaches may be used for various employees.
Importance of incorporating Mentoring Component- Hatch (2008) indicates that a mentor provides the new employee with someone whom to turn to for advice and ask questions. Mentorship program helps in creating confidence in new employees and to significantly speed up their time to productivity.
Create Realistic Expectations on the Performance of the new Entrants- it is unfortunate that majority of organizations assume that a vigorous and extensive recruitment process eliminates the necessity for onboarding (Erling, 2011). Such organization take so much time to get the right person to fill the duties and then expect such an employee will hit the ground running from the first day at work. Hatch (2008) states that no matter how long a new employee has been working, he/she is required to align expectations, build networks, and know how to access information before becoming completely productive. Without company’s support even the most qualified candidates can literally fail unintentionally.
Assess and Track the Company’s Retention Rates and the Time to Productivity- In keeping with Erling (2011) it is important that the company assesses and measures the effectiveness of its onboarding process. The two key scale of measuring success is by accessing time to productivity and retention. These metrics, according to Erling (2011) help organizations to understand if they are selecting and recruiting the right people in the first place.
Onboarding Benefits to the company
There are several advantages that are attached to proper onboarding to the company. These benefits include;
Reduction of employees’ turnover- by providing the new employees with tools and resources required to successfully work on their jobs and by demonstrating that the company cares about the hires, new employees feel supported and valued as such they remain with the organization longer. Bradt and Vonnegut (2009) indicate that good onboarding programs can increase employee retention by up to 25%.
Accelerate time to employee’s productivity – new employees become valued contributors on personal level as members of the organization much sooner by reducing the time spent in training. Onboarding programs help in shortening time to productivity in an organization by even two months. In keeping with Erling (2011) this reduces costs to the organization.
Improve collaboration and motivation – the onboarding program boosts employees’ motivation levels (Erling, 2011).Erling (2011) also argues that onboarding program also steps up employee’s desire to perform at superior levels through precise upfront expectations and goals. In addition, increased collaboration and teamwork result from consistent and designed integration of team affiliates.
Saves supervisors time – quality time spent onboarding and defining organization’s goals and expectations with new employees can significantly reduce time needed on addressing performance issues.
Promotes Job satisfaction, pride and commitment to quality within the organization- the more the organization’s values are installed in the hires upfront, the more ingrained and long lasting such new employees become (Jyotsna, 2007). As demonstrated in the fore mentioned benefits; such investment into the organization’s new employees worth making. The benefits can be increased by the huge number of new employees joining the company every year.
Reed and Bogardus (2012) indicates that regardless of the new employee’s career level i.e. whether it is the entry level and a higher level, many onboarding programs run from one two months. But, at least a third of managers report that onboarding programs for entry level worker take longer time compare to those advancing their careers. In reference to Watson (2004) it is important for employers to evaluate if the timeline spread within onboarding programs are realistic i.e. those entering the job market for the first time need longer time to adapt to new roles and the culture of the company because it is likely that they have not navigated a professional working environment previously. In comparison, experienced senior level entrants tend to have gained competency in what they are intended to do, although they may need more time to integrate to a new company’s culture. According to Erling (2011) setting reasonable timelines benefits both the new member of staff and the employer since the new hire will fully adjust and absorb all information being availed to them.
How to measure onboarding success
Watson (2004) indicates that leveraging several metrics enables an employer to evaluate performances of both the new employees and the onboarding program. Hatch (2008) indicates that the three most common methods for assessing onboarding results are; evaluations with manager/ form check-ins, informal check-ins by managers and new employees surveys. In reference to Hatch (2008) 35% of the managers acknowledges that formal check-ins by managers are commonly used.
According to Hatch (2008) if a new employee fails to work out, it is difficult to decipher if he/she did not put enough effort or the manager was not involved in the onboarding process as they should be. Hatch (2008) elaborates that onboarding programs are not mean to identify the person to question for the inability of the new hire to work out. Major goal is to put up a sense of mutual responsibility where both the manager and the employee are putting utmost effort t to make sure that all participants benefit from the program.
Risks and potential ROI for utilizing onboarding programs
In some cases recruiting and promoting situations pose massive risks to accompany and therefore, possess greatest potential ROI for utilizing onboarding programs (Hatch 2008). Internal support- Hatch (2008) states that according 60% of the HR professional surveyed, the greatest potential gain in onboarding programs has been achieved with external hires. Nevertheless, proving oneself in an unusual role in internal promotion or transfer has often been burdened with similar challenges. Hatch (2008) indicates that there are subcultures that exist within different subgroups, new expectations, stakeholders and roles are redefined. companies have recognized such complications are most of them have introduced onboarding programs for internally transferred and promoted as a solution to reducing high rates of failure (Messmer, 2013). Culture Differences- Messmer (2013) states that for executives who are based abroad and expatriate sent to work in other countries local employees in offshore operations there is a risk of failure. Messmer (2013) notes that understanding and adapting to local norms and culture are fundamental to establishing strengthened interpersonal relationships required for contributing and achieving shared organizations goals, Strategic Change Initiatives – Watson (2004) states that new leaders entering a rotational situation fail if bestowed with responsibility to execute new strategic change scheme. Such leaders must be in a position to gain the support, confidence and trust of major stakeholders and direct reports (Watson, 2004), failure to this, continuous success may be difficult to achieve.
The onboarding process, according to Messmer (2013) has never been a function conducted on its own like in performance management and succession planning. This is because; it typically falls under recruitment (staffing), development (training) and learning departments. Nevertheless, strategic onboarding is currently catching on fast in many organizations. Companies doing onboarding of new employees will need to; look at techniques they are currently using while introducing new employees into their culture; reassess their recruiting process; and consider setting up opportunities for new hires to immediately commence networking and building crucial strategic relationships. Finally, initial impression counts and can also be destructive. The expectations of new employees have changed with time; this is something that is driven by differences in generations. In many organizations today the workforce is becoming more sophisticated in its entirety and there will be even more job choices in future. As such, retaining employees is significantly important and any company’s ability to do so will influence the notion of “best organization to work with.” The competition for the best workforce is immense and how companies recruit and onboard new employees will contribute significantly on the employees’ decision to stay or such for better workplaces elsewhere.
Arthur, D. (2012). Recruiting, interviewing, selecting & orienting new employees. New York: AMACOM, American Management Association.
Beecroft, P & Krozek, C. (2003). RN internship: Outcomes of a one-year pilot program. Journal of Nursing Administration, 31(12), 575-582.
Bradt, G. & Vonnegut, M. (2009). Onboarding how to get your new employees up to speed in half the time. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Bradt, G., Check, J. & Pedraza, J. (2011). The new leader's 100-day action plans how to take charge, build your team, and get immediate results. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Erling, D. (2011). Match: a systematic, sane process for hiring the right person every time. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Hatch, S. (2008). Diversity by design: guide to fostering diversity in the civil engineering workforce. Reston, Val: American Society of Civil Engineers.
Jyotsna B. (2007) "Talent management strategy of employee engagement in Indian ITES employees: key to retention", Employee Relations, Vol. 29 Iss: 6, pp.640 – 663
Messmer, M. (2013). Human resources kit for dummies. Hoboken, N.J. Chichester: Wiley John Wiley distributor.
Reed, S. & Bogardus, A. (2012). PHR/SPHR Professional in Human Resources certification study guide. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Pub.
Sims, D. (2011). Creative onboarding programs tools for energizing your orientation program. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Watson W. (2004).Connecting Organizational Communication to Financial Performance 2003/2004 Communication ROI Study.