The impact of the onboarding experience cannot be underestimated. While traditional onboarding covers new hire paperwork, reviewing benefits and job training, the entire experience should be more personalized to create a great first impression. A poor onboarding experience can leave a new employee questioning their choice and quickly looking for employment elsewhere. Our 2022 Job Seeker Survey Report asked survey respondents, "How will your onboarding experience affect your decision to stay with the company?" and 74% said the first day will affect their decision to stay for over a month.
A well-structured onboarding process is vital in welcoming and engaging new employees. Employee onboarding aims to set up new hires for success while reducing the time it takes them to be efficient in their new role. The following steps can help your organization create an onboarding process that provides an engaging experience while building confidence in the new hires.
1. Reach out before their first day
The time between offer acceptance and the first day can vary. Keeping in touch with the new hire periodically throughout this transition will allow them to feel excited and ready to start this new opportunity. According to our 2022 Job Seeker Survey Report, 61% of candidates said they would consider another job offer if not contacted between the time of offer and the first day on the job.
2. Send a welcome gift
Show your appreciation for a new recruit with an unexpected but influential welcome gift before they start. How fun would it be to receive a welcome box containing the coolest company swag and a personalized letter to start your new job? While most new hires would expect a gift, this is an excellent way for organizations to make them feel like they belong even before their first day.
3. Provide an onboarding plan
An onboarding plan should set the schedule for the first 1-2 weeks in detail and sent to the employee before the first day. Aside from completing any initial documentation, this plan should include all the key tasks that help a new hire connect, like introductions to key stakeholders, learning modules and receiving the right business tools to perform their job. In addition, the ability to track outcomes (at 30-60-90 days) and successful completion of tasks is important.
4. Schedule socialization
Introduce your new hire to their peers. If you’re onboarding remote employees, schedule meetings via a video platform to help connect them to people they will, directly and indirectly, work with. Socialization is more critical in the first few weeks than learning the job itself. Don’t forget to include new employees in any events during the first few weeks; it provides an excellent opportunity for your new hire to attend (if in a location) and meet people.
5. Recognize early milestones
Early recognition is vital. Recognize new employees for the right behaviors, as well as their early career milestones. The #1 reason employees leave their employers today (20% of candidates in our 2022 Job Seeker Survey responded said) even more than fair pay is a lack of recognition, appreciation, or respect. Using the onboarding plan as a tool for recognizing the completion of tasks and outcomes can be a great way to reinforce and acknowledge the small things!
6. Check-in for feedback
Remember that you are still selling the job and the company to your new hire. Check in regularly and ask for feedback on what’s going well and what’s not. Collect employee feedback regarding their day one experience, allowing you to course-correct if needed. Don’t assume things are going OK from observation alone. New employee surveys are also effective, as long as follow-up occurs.
7. Treat new hires with respect
And lastly, treating new hires with dignity and respect is critical. The top reason candidates accept a job is Recognition, Appreciation & Respect. And 24% of candidates say they reject a job because of the lack of those same things. This survey suggests that, more than ever, it’s time for HR and managers/supervisors to get back to basics and treat people like they are the company’s most important asset.
Onboarding is important because it directly impacts retention. The onboarding experience sets the tone for the employee’s career experience with your company. The pandemic, shift to remote work and changing candidate perceptions require new approaches. Our research found that 72% of survey respondents said the total onboarding experience will affect their decision to stay over a year. Keeping new employees engaged and motivated from the start is critical as they learn, develop and become productive team members.