How to create a great employee onboarding experience

High employee engagement starts with a good onboarding process. Here are 7 ways you can create an onboarding experience that helps new hires feel they belong from day one.

onboarding experience - Workplace from Meta

Do you think your company does a good job at employee onboarding? Gallup found that only 12% of companies say yes, proving that many need to do better.

If the process for onboarding new employees isn’t great, it can impact your organization in many ways. Employees are less likely to feel motivated and may not know how to do their job properly, eventually leading to high and costly turnover – the average cost of replacing an employee is between 16% and 20% of their salary. And it’s widely reported that up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days with a company.

But, when done properly, the organization benefits – Forbes reports that 50% of new hires would go the extra mile for their companies if they felt their onboarding experience was successful.

What is employee onboarding?

What is employee onboarding?

The onboarding process refers to the way in which new hires are integrated into an organization. It’s not the same as simply showing new hires around the office and completing any paperwork. Rather, it’s an all-round introduction to the organization, its culture and its people, and, according to the SHRM, can last as long as 12 months.

As well as giving new hires a thorough orientation, onboarding can provide the foundation for a sense of belonging at work right from the start, that will enhance their employee experience at your company.

Create an onboarding plan

Create an onboarding plan

To make sure you have all the bases covered, create an onboarding plan. This can be a checklist of everything you need to do within the onboarding process (beginning with preboarding) and you then tick off tasks once done.

Onboarding process steps

Onboarding process steps

Boosting employee engagement starts with a good onboarding process – here are the 7 steps that should be included in your plan.

1. Preboard employees

A good onboarding experience begins even before your new hire starts work.

By preboarding employees, you’re getting them excited for their new job and keeping them engaged until their official start date. This is the best time for you to answer any questions or concerns they may have, and to showcase your friendly company culture.

During this first step, you should also make sure any paperwork and important documents are sent to your new hire so that they’re able to read and understand more about their role and the company.

2. Create a welcome package

Take time to show new hires how much you appreciate them.

Put together a generous welcome package for their first day – if the new hire is a remote worker, get it sent to their address – and include things they’ll enjoy. You can’t go wrong with something sweet, a branded water bottle and a notebook, but try to show off your culture in the welcome package. Don’t forget, it’s the first impression that counts.

3. Involve others

It’s not just up to managers to create a positive employee onboarding experience. Other employees should be encouraged to get involved with the onboarding process, whether that’s by becoming a buddy or giving new hires an office tour. Ask employees if they want to take part and assign them a role.

Depending on the size of your company, your new hires will likely have plenty of new faces and names to memorize, so you can give someone the task of making a company "family tree" with job titles, names and a short description (if it isn’t already hosted on your company intranet or people directory).

Make sure that other employees, managers, supervisors and senior leaders understand the onboarding process and how they’ll fit into it.

4. Have regular check-ins

The onboarding process should be an ongoing process. Have regular check-ins with new hires to find out how they’re doing and if they have any questions. If you’re tight for time, arrange for them to have a check- in with other members of the team instead.

Put time aside in both your diaries, which can then become a weekly or fortnightly catch up. These check-ins will show the employee that you’re keen to give them a voice and can help create a stronger working relationship.

5. Share and set goals

Share your company goals and objectives so that new hires have a greater understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. Once you’ve shared the company goals, set specific goals for the hires.

Giving people clear things to strive for – and providing regular, productive feedback – makes new employees feel valued and motivated. It makes them feel as though they're an essential part of their organizations' success.

And that's the key to both short and long-term fulfillment for individuals and businesses alike.

6. Reboard when you need to

If someone has been absent for a long time, because of illness or a sabbatical, take the time to reboard them - get them up to speed with new projects and any changes in the company. That way, you’ll find they can re-engage and get back to being productive faster.

7. Make it personal

Every new hire is an individual. So their onboarding experiences should be too. Make sure that each one is unique, exciting and, above all, relevant. Simple steps to do this include assigning mentors to new hires to help build employee relations and develop professional plans.

Refreshing your onboarding plan

Refreshing your onboarding plan

Once you've put your onboarding process in place, you'll need to update it on a regular basis to make sure that it's ticking all the boxes. You can do pulse surveys to find out how satisfied people are with the process. And at least once every three years, reassess the process in full and update it accordingly to keep it fresh.

Whatever the method, the main thing to remember about onboarding is to keep things as simple – and engaging – as possible. You won't get a second chance to make a first impression.

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