7 Tips to Successful Onboarding [+ Remote Onboarding Advice]
What are the two most critical factors for successful on-site or remote onboarding programs? First and foremost, new hires must get started on the right foot. Secondly, new information overload must be minimized. This is accomplished by creating a culture of belonging and continuous learning. When put into practice, a high retention rate, a strong talent pipeline, and a positive company perception will result.
Successful or failed onboarding on behalf of the employer is a critical determination of the new employees’ future success at the organization. Remember, not only is the new employee getting a feel for how effective their onboarding experience is but also if they’ll be fully engaged and rewarded for their contributions. They will also consider if they see a future with the organization. According to Zippia’s 2023 HR trends, organizations with strong onboarding processes increase new hire retention by 82% and improve productivity by 70%. Furthermore, employees who attend a structured orientation program are 69% more likely to remain at the company for at least three years.
Consider that the cost of hiring a new employee is approximately $4,000 while it costs on average a little over $1,500 to onboard a new hire. Just because the organization spent thousands of dollars and precious time in recruiting the right employee, resume reviews, first-round interviews, group interviews, personality assessments, and offer letters does not mean the process is over. The last thing a company wants is for a new hire to quit and the search for a replacement to start over again – losing both time and money.
What is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new hire with an organization, its culture, and other colleagues. This includes seeing that the new hire receives the necessary tools and training they need so they can be a productive and contributing team member. It’s setting them up for success and decreasing the time it takes for them to be comfortable in their new role. An effective onboarding program keeps these goals at the forefront.
Onboarding is not solely the responsibility of human resources but also the direct manager, the new hire’s team, their mentor or “buddy,” as well as leadership. Research shows employees are more than three times as likely to strongly agree that they had an exceptional onboarding experience when their managers had an active role in the onboarding process.
7 Tips to Successful Onboarding
The onboarding process is something to be taken quite seriously. According to Gallup’s “Creating an Exceptional Onboarding Journey for New Employees” report, it typically takes new employees 12 months to reach their full performance potential. New hires with a longer onboarding period are more proficient in their jobs four months sooner than organizations that do not have an effective onboarding process, according to Zippia’s 2023 trends.
Here are several tips to create a strong onboarding process from start to finish:
#1: Begin the onboarding process before the new hire’s start date.
The Aberdeen Group found that 83% of best-in-class organizations begin the onboarding process before the new hire’s first day.
During the recruitment process, communicate the company’s mission and what is valued to be successful. This should be voiced in both the job posting and the interview.
Start with a warm welcome by letting the company culture shine. Share a welcome email with a link to a video featuring co-workers talking about their fulfilling jobs and company culture.
Prep them on their 401(k) and benefit options by sending new hires important information. This allows them to review and discuss any questions on their first day. It also speeds up the benefits discussion allowing more time for training sessions and meeting co-workers.
Share all pertinent policies and procedures documents and request they complete all necessary new hire paperwork. This can also include viewing compliance training videos. With a learning management system (LMS), courses can be assigned, viewing tracked, and online quizzes administered to ensure understanding.
Offering a suite of off-the-shelf training videos can help them develop new skills, build confidence, and save valuable company time.
Email them the onboarding agenda for the first two weeks to ease any nervousness and find comfort in how organized their new employer is. Leave some downtime during the day for them to manage how they see fit.
To prevent current team members from feeling disconnected or fostering resentment toward new employees, share their career background with them and their area of expertise. Also, explain what drove the hiring decision. Develop an early sense of belonging by sharing details on how they will contribute to the team’s success.
#2: Make the first day a positive lasting impression.
The first thing on the onboarding agenda for Day 1 should be face-to-face greetings with familiar faces from the interview process. Just a short chat with lots of smiles is all that’s necessary.
The second item on the agenda should be new employee orientation. An orientation program is part of onboarding. The program serves many purposes:
- Department overview: Quick, informal introductions to important new colleagues and peers.
- Human Resources assistance: Time to answer any benefit or other HR policy questions.
- Skill building: After new hires receive all necessary computer equipment and gain access to IT tools they’ll need to perform their job, it’s time for training. This training may include how to use proprietary or custom systems for accounting, project management, IT, etc. It also includes relevant skills training such as time management. Safety procedure training is included, as well.
- Impression building: This provides time to learn about the company’s culture, mission, vision, and values. It’s an ideal opportunity to educate new hires on diversity and inclusion through online training. It’s also a time to convey a commitment to support their personal development plan. Communicating with a shared purpose can make a difference in employee retention and happiness.
#3: Prioritize socialization.
New hires must quickly achieve a level of comfort in their new work environment. They should never feel isolated. When new employees can establish early personal connections, they are more likely to not leave. Here are several ways to achieve this:
- Practice inclusive onboarding. Schedule a department meeting to introduce new team members and explain everyone’s role. Ask the team to help the new member get acclimated. This will make the new employee feel part of the team.
- Implement buddy programs that match employees with buddies or mentors. This allows new employees to have someone who can answer their questions, or they can go to for support aside from the direct manager.
- Assign collaborative learning techniques, such as assigning a team project with attainable goals.
- Connect new employees with key stakeholders by scheduling meet and greets.
- Depending upon the size of the company, schedule a one-on-one or group coffee with the CEO. Connecting the CEO with the new hires not only makes them feel welcomed and valued but gives them a sense of inclusion. This helps set the stage for a memorable experience and a deeper understanding of the company culture. This positively impacts their sense of belonging and commitment and, in turn, affects retention and performance.
#4: Set clear expectations and achievable benchmarks.
Onboarding is the time to explain job role responsibilities and set realistic and clear expectations with achievable benchmarks. Their direct manager should share the specifics, such as how to go about doing the task, why it’s important, and who to contact if help is needed. They should also review corporate success measures, departmental plans, strategies, goals, how performance is assessed, and bonus and promotion criteria. The focal point of the conversation should be exactly what is expected from them during their first weeks and months on the job.
Weekly check-ins with their direct manager are critical to make sure they are receiving the support necessary to do their job successfully. The manager should remember that difficulties are understandable when starting a new job and proactively address potential obstacles.
#5: Celebrate wins!
The sooner the new employee feels they’re doing a good job and contributing, the more they’ll feel valued, and confident, and will be more productive. Management should delegate some sure wins within the first few weeks. Celebrate small wins, not only the big ones! Letting them know they did a good job and they’re appreciated goes a long way.
#6: Ask for feedback.
Periodically management should casually check in with new hires. Ask how they’re doing and if their job expectations are being met. The goal is to make sure they’re comfortable in the role and will be successful. If any red flags are mentioned, step back and ask how you can help. For example, they need additional software training.
#7: Provide self-directed soft skills training.
An onboarding training program is a necessary and critical part of a successful onboarding program. It’s not only imperative to retain new employees but it also positively affects the company’s return on investment. Organizations that value employee training make a median revenue of $169,100 per employee.
After the new hires have taken the required compliance and safety courses, arm them with all the soft skills training they’ll need to perform their job successfully. Since employees start with different abilities, businesses can offer soft skills training that can improve how employees approach their jobs and work with each other. Communication, problem solving, and time management are all examples of soft skills that employees may need help with to succeed in their new roles. Having a strong set of soft skills can help any employee achieve career success, reaching business goals and enjoying the process along the way. If your organization has a learning management system (LMS), like HSI offers, encourage new employees to seek out self-directed learning opportunities any time.
“You must design a system for training and onboarding that gives people a real, fighting chance at success.” - Mitch Gray, inspirational speaker and author of How to Hire and Keep Great People
[+ Remote Onboarding Checklist]
Remote onboarding is the process of logistically, mentally, and emotionally getting new employees started on a path to success. Companies must cultivate a culture that’s inclusive of their virtual workers.
According to a survey by Workable, HR respondents stated the biggest hiring challenge is remote onboarding and training. Onboarding new remote employees is different from on-site employees for other reasons than just setting up an office and necessary technology at their remote setting.
The critical difference is finding ways to make them feel connected and valued by their entire team. They need to feel not only informed but engaged with the company’s and department’s goals, inspired to produce quality work, and united with their dispersed remote teams.
The virtual onboarding program lays the foundation for the employees’ success. It could empower them to be productive and loyal employees or could lead them to be confused and disengaged. The best way to organize a remote onboarding plan is with a checklist that outlines the phases of onboarding, so nothing is accidentally overlooked.
HSI Can Help
Research shows that 21% of employees who quit within the first 6 months of employment say they needed more effective training. On the flip side, 78% of organizations that invested in onboarding reported increases in revenue in the last fiscal year.
Engaged employees are productive, passionate, and loyal. Not only is it imperative that this engagement starts during the interview process but continues and deepens as they are integrated into the company’s culture.
In a learning culture, employees are more involved in self-driven learning that will positively impact business outcomes and personal productivity. Employees are encouraged to seek out learning opportunities anytime they want. HSI offers businesses a wide array of training videos that encompass virtually every soft skills topic imaginable.
HSI’s course library includes courses that cover topics like assertive communication, and presentation skills. Other topics include collaboration, conflict management, creativity, managerial courage, emotional intelligence, time management, and many more.
HSI is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and useful eLearning resources for forward-thinking professionals. Check out our course library!
For more information on how HSI can help, request a free trial of our LMS.