Getting new employees off to a great start is the ultimate goal of onboarding, and in 2022, it’s going to be more important than ever.

With the war on talent showing no signs of slowing down,  many organisations are experiencing an above average level of turnover and recruitment activity. HR teams may even find themselves onboarding new employees en masse, which can feel like a daunting task. Even for one new starter, engineering a smooth and successful start takes planning and organisation.

When it comes to onboarding a group of employees, it’s important to streamline the process and minimise time-consuming manual processes. But how do organisations ensure the quality of their onboarding experience doesn’t suffer? First, let’s look at why the employee experience (EX) matters.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding refers to the process between a new starter accepting their role, to starting the job and settling into the organisation. In the past it’s been considered a largely administrative process, revolving around compliance-related paperwork, filling out personal contact, superannuation and banking details, and IT logins. But now, HR leaders understand the power of a great onboarding process to embed new staff in their role, the workplace culture and community. It goes beyond the first day, and in fact, the average duration of an onboarding program is now one month.

Why is onboarding important?

Nothing is more disappointing that a poor onboarding experience. The energy and enthusiasm new hires bring to their first day can quickly be dashed by a lack of organisation or care from their new employer. It’s a bad first impression, and it hurts a business’s bottom line too.

According to research conducted by Robert Half (2018), 90% of employees are willing to quit within the first month of their new job. Just because they’ve signed on the dotted line, doesn’t mean they’ll stay. The same research found 32% of employees have left their jobs because of a lack of proper onboarding. Given the average cost to hire a new employee was $23,860 last year, a sloppy or ad-hoc onboarding process can become a serious drain on resources. The lesson? Don’t overlook the experience.

Here are five tips to ensure mass onboarding doesn’t end in disappointment.

1. Keep it simple

If you can, try to onboard all new hires on the same day, for example by standardising start days. That way you can begin their onboarding journey as a group. It creates a sense of community among new starters and fosters friendly connections between colleagues from day one.

It’s also a great way to streamline the process for the HR team, making it as easy as possible to set up welcome sessions like office tours or a ‘meet the executives’ morning tea. But don’t forget, the personal touch is important too. Ensure the experience goes both ways by asking new starters about who they are as people, both inside and outside the workplace, for example during a welcome meeting or shout-out on internal communications channels (e.g. Slack). It’s all about ensuring every new employee feels welcome and appreciated.

Read more: Why onboarding fails

2. Communication is key

It’s only natural for new starters to feel nervous, but one thing employers can do is provide clear communication about what their first week will entail. Being organised in the preboarding stage is a good first sign for your new employees.

Preboarding includes:

  • Requesting new starter documentation
  • Setting up IT and logins
  • Organising equipment for day one in the office, or shipping it to their home
  • Creating first day / week schedule, including welcome tour or Zoom meeting
  • Setting up their eLearning login and any required compliance training

A useful idea for mass onboarding is to provide an FAQs document for new starters to streamline the number of queries that land on HR’s desk. Also, make sure they have access to IT support and know how to ask for assistance. IT problems are inevitable with a large group of new starters, especially those onboarding virtually, so an easy to access link to contact IT is essential.

3. Save time with onboarding software

For organisations hiring en masse, using onboarding software is key to streamlining the process – for both HR and new starters. Ensure the software is user-friendly and compatible with mobile phones, as well as laptops, using features such as electronic acceptance and digital signatures.

Using software not only reduces the time spent onboarding each employee, but it also creates a formal process. 

Read more: Building a Business Case for Employee Onboarding Software

4. Embrace hybrid

The desire for flexibility is here – and it’s not going anywhere. Many employees who have worked from home during the pandemic now want and expect to be able to operate flexibly in their new roles, and the onboarding process should be no exception.

Post-pandmeic, organisations should expect new hires to fall into two groups – those who want to onboard from home, and those who want to come into the office. Creating a hybrid onboarding schedule simply means the experience and the schedule is the same, whether they’re in the office or not. For example, why not film a virtual tour for new starters onboarding from home?

Similarly, welcome meetings can become hybrid by connecting those who are at home via communication channels such as Zoom. A welcome lunch could also cater to both cohorts by delivering lunch or a coffee to the remote employees’ homes. This kind of gesture sends a strong signal out to new hires that no matter where you are, you’re part of the team.

5. Give new hires a voice

Even if you’re onboarding a big group at one time, don’t forget to give your new recruits a chance to offer feedback. It can be as simple as a few closed-ended questions at the end of week one. Asking for feedback from new starters is the best way to evaluate the onboarding experience. After all, no one can get into the mindset of a new hire like they can. Tools such as ELMO Survey can help HR gather and analyse employee sentiment from short pulse surveys or more in-depth employee surveys.

So, whether you’re onboarding one new employee or 100, keep these tips in mind to ensure your onboarding program is the best it can be.

HROnboard, an ELMO company, offers a best-in-class software solution that reduces the amount of time HR teams and leaders spend securing the best candidates and undertaking the critical onboarding process for new hires. Our solution also helps manage internal employee role changes and can create a smooth and seamless process for exiting employees.

ELMO Software (ASX:ELO) is a cloud-based solution that helps thousands of organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to effectively manage their people, process and pay. ELMO solutions span the entire employee lifecycle from ‘hire to retire’. They can be used together or stand-alone, and are configurable according to an organisation’s unique processes and workflows. Automate and streamline your operations to reduce costs, increase efficiency and bolster productivity. For further information, contact us.

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