There may come a point at which an organisation must develop a new onboarding program from scratch – or revamp an existing one. The reason for this may be to ensure that the onboarding process is fresh, engaging, and follows best practice principles.

Before embarking on the task of developing an onboarding program, there are a few key things to clarify. Below we have asked and answered seven key questions.

How long should the onboarding process last?

Onboarding means different things to different organisations, but where many go wrong is designing an onboarding process that is too short. According to ELMO’s 2022 HR Industry Benchmark Report, 28% of organisations in Australia and New Zealand said their onboarding program lasts up to one month on average, 24% said up to three months, and 21% said up to one week. However, in order to be most effective, onboarding should span an employee’s entire first year at a company – from their first day to their one-year employment anniversary. According to the same report, only 2% of organisations said their onboarding program lasts more than six months.

When should new hires be introduced to their manager?

On their first day! The early stages of onboarding should focus on familiarising a new starter with the key members of the team and of the business. Actually, it’s likely new starters have already met their managers during the recruitment process – if so, that manager can set up formal or informal meetings with other team members and other key stakeholders.

What do employees need to know about the company culture

Workplace culture is increasingly important in today’s world. For many organisations, having a positive workplace culture sets them apart from their competitors and is the reason they bag top talent. Therefore, it is likely that new starters have already been exposed to the company’s shared beliefs and values through the interview process, but they won’t get a true feel for it until they start the job and interact with their new colleagues and experience the employee offerings and activities.

Is it necessary to set performance benchmarks during onboarding?

Although employees should not be set performance benchmarks early on in their onboarding journey, it may be appropriate to introduce them. Managers should discuss with new starters what is expected of them in their role – i.e. OKRs (objectives and key results) and KPIs (key performance indicators) – in the first days and weeks without fear of overwhelming them. 

The objective is to provide job clarity as soon as possible, which will motivate them to achieve highly. If expectations are clearly communicated, there will be no grey area when it comes to discussing performance and contribution later down the line.

What impression should new starters get on their first day?

As most of us have experienced, the first day on a new job is a blur. It is filled with new information and introductions to other team members, so it can be overwhelming. Although it’s likely a new starter will be exhausted after their first day, it’s important that they also have a buzz. They should feel optimistic that they’ve made the right choice in joining the company and feel excited to come back for another day. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure a new starter’s first day is joyful, interactive and interesting.

How can I measure the effectiveness of onboarding?

36% of organisations in Australia and New Zealand do not measure the effectiveness of their onboarding processes. To ensure onboarding is helping and not harming employee engagement, employers need to track how processes are received by new starters. One way to do this is by asking new starters to rate their onboarding experience at various points throughout their onboarding journey. 

With HROnboard, employers can incorporate feedback prompts throughout the onboarding journey to get new starters to rate various aspects of their onboarding journey (e.g. their first day) on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being poor, and 5 being excellent). Find out more in our blog here.

Who is responsible for developing an onboarding program – HR or the leadership team?

An HR team is typically responsible for designing and building an onboarding program, but department managers and other key stakeholders may be consulted in the process as they can provide inspiration and clarity around role-specific tasks. And of course, it must have leadership buy-in before it is rolled out.

Successful onboarding does not happen overnight, so it only makes sense that developing an onboarding program takes time too. HROnboard can help your organisation to build a best practice program to get your new starters – and managers – excited and productive.

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. To find out more, reach us here.

ELMO Software offers people, pay and process solutions for the entire employee lifecycle, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes recruitment, learning, performance management, payroll, rostering / time & attendance, expense management, and more. For further information, contact us.


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