Design an Effective Employee Onboarding Strategy: Tips to Increase New Hire Engagement, Productivity, and Retention
All that work you're putting into attracting, interviewing, and hiring the right person for the job will amount to nothing if you cannot get them to stay long enough to reap the rewards of your investment.
The onboarding process is key to building long-lasting partnerships with employees and creating a workplace that supports their happiness, satisfaction, and performance.
There needs to be structure and intention behind your onboarding strategy to ensure you deliver a positive employee experience. This means making new recruits feel connected and motivated to stick around and do their best work.
This article will show you the importance of properly onboarding new hires and how to create an onboarding strategy that reduces employee turnover and inefficiencies.
✈️ What's an onboarding strategy?
Some HR managers think of employee onboarding as ensuring the new hire signs all the appropriate paperwork. Then, giving them access to work tools, introducing them to a few team members, and showing them around the office.
This approach is equivalent to throwing new hires into a river and leaving them to learn how to swim on their own. Sure, some may figure out how to stay afloat, but many will drown.
Leaving your new hires alone without support is not only bad for the employee experience, but it's bad for business. Negative employee experiences affect employee performance, engagement, and even your brand as an employer.
That's the kind of outcome that an onboarding strategy aims to prevent.
Your new hire onboarding strategy is a defined plan and system to:
- Gradually introduce recruits to the company culture.
- Help them unlock all the knowledge, resources, and support to become successful in current and future roles.
- Help them establish social connections at work and build trust and confidence.
Rather than solely focusing on helping employees settle in on their first day or week, a good onboarding strategy targets long-term engagement and career development throughout the employee's life cycle.
❓ Why do you need a proper onboarding strategy?
The strength of your onboarding strategy will determine whether your employees will happily remain with you for years or jump ship when they find a slightly better offer.
Your onboarding strategy helps you create positive first impressions
A thorough strategy will shape your new hires' first impressions of your company. You want to make them feel welcome and valued rather than filling them with regret and frustration.
Yet, about 88% of organizations struggle with proper onboarding. Because of this, their recruits are twice as likely to search for a new job soon after being hired.
When you don't take the time to help your new recruits:
- adjust to their new roles,
- get familiar with the ins and outs of the company,
- clearly understand role and performance expectations,
- establish good relationships with their coworkers,
You set them up to struggle.
And there's only so much difficulty new hires can tolerate before they decide to quit. This is the reason why inefficient onboarding processes account for over 20% of worker turnover in the first 45 days.
Your onboarding strategy saves you expenses from voluntary turnover
Poor onboarding strategies cost companies a lot of money. On average, it takes about $4,000 to hire new talent. And when employees leave, replacing them costs around 16% to 20% of the worker's salary.
Employees who benefit from a good onboarding process attain complete competence in their roles 34 times faster than their peers. Plus, the possibility of staying committed to an organization increases by 82%.
These statistics show that investing in new hires from the beginning of their journey pays off handsomely in the long run. Not only does it give you a serious advantage in the talent retention arena, but it also positions your employees to thrive.
⚙️ How to create an onboarding strategy in 5 steps?
You cannot create an effective onboarding strategy in a day. You must be intentional about designing an onboarding experience that supports the smooth assimilation of employees into the workplace. You also have to prioritize reducing the risk of disengagement and early resignation.
If you are ready to overhaul or optimize your company's onboarding, here's how to pull it off.
1. Define your onboarding goals
You wouldn't set out on a journey without having a destination in mind.
Before you get started with strategizing, you must have clear goals spelling out what you want to achieve in the process.
The goals you set will guide how you structure your onboarding process.
So ask yourself what you want new hires to learn from the experience. Also, what is the company's end goal? Performance, engagement? All of these have to be evident to you and your fellow stakeholders.
Once you figure this out, it becomes easier to ensure that your content and all the different elements within your onboarding process are working together to help meet those targets.
Some examples of onboarding goals you can set for your organization include:
- Improve retention in the first year.
- Accelerate learning and career development.
- Get hires up to speed faster to make early contributions in their new role.
- Make it easy for employees to find answers to common questions.
- Increase job satisfaction and employee happiness.
- Create a sense of community to increase employees' comfort level in the office and with colleagues.
- Encourage employee engagement and commitment.
- Strengthen employer branding to turn employees into active promoters of your corporate culture and employment experience.
➡️ Get proactive with your employer branding strategies. Discover templates, measurement options, examples, and concrete steps to start right away.
Tip: Remember to set your goals as precisely as possible. It's not enough to say you want to increase employee satisfaction. You have to state the current satisfaction level and the level you wish to attain.
For example, one of your goals can be to raise job satisfaction from 3 to 4.5 out of 5.
2. Use a checklist as inspiration for a complete process
There's no room for guesswork or uncertainty in an onboarding strategy. There has to be a concrete plan that clearly communicates how you intend to move new hires through the onboarding journey.
An onboarding checklist is an excellent way to:
- document every step hiring managers or HR professionals should take to engage, orient, and align new hires with the company's vision and
- prepare them to tackle the responsibilities of their position effectively.
Tip: Use an onboarding checklist to outline the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder involved in the onboarding process and ensure that all new employees get a consistent experience.
Our employee onboarding checklist kicks off from the moment a candidate says yes to your job offer.
The tasks on the checklist are broken down into timelines starting from the offer acceptance stage and ending when the new hire has fully settled into the role and organization.
Before start date
Some of the things you can do to help candidates prepare to join the company include:
- Provide and oversee completion of all the necessary onboarding paperwork.
- Communicate your company values, history, culture, policies, benefits, and mission.
- Ensure a thorough IT onboarding process by:
- Preparing their hardware, access passes, business cards, and other equipment.
- Setting up the new employee's online accounts—email, instant message, productivity tools, etc.
- Inform team members about their new colleagues and the responsibilities they will take on.
- Send out a welcome package with a personalized message. (Tip: Consider sending an onboarding video message as an engagement booster.)
- Arrange introductory meetings with core team members.
- Reach out with a welcome email explaining everything they need to know and what to expect on their first day. (We got you covered with our guide on How to write a new employee welcome message.)
- Plan their first work assignment.
On their first day
Checking off these activities on a candidate's first day will help them start on a great note.
- Give them a tour of the office and walk them through their onboarding agenda for the first week.
- Introduce them to their manager and relevant colleagues, and encourage them to ask questions.
- Plan a (virtual) team lunch for new hires to share small talk and get to know their teammates in an informal setting.
- Invite them to join the shared team/holiday calendar.
- Handover their equipment and account credentials and allow them time to set everything up. (Tip: Make sure to arrange tool training if necessary.)