Onboarding is something we know is important, but not every onboarding program does what it says on the tin.

The purpose of onboarding is to settle a new starter into their new team and work environment. This is important because one-third (32%) of employees who leave a job during the first month do so because they have been improperly onboarded. Knowing this, it’s time to get your onboarding program up to scratch.

Onboarding can be a minefield, but don’t fret – we have you covered! Below, we walk you through the 7 essential elements your onboarding program must include.

1. Job clarity

First thing’s first: job clarity. You may think that onboarding is about clarifying pay and benefits and outlining company rules and procedures, and you’re not wrong! But it’s also a time to talk about expectations and set goals – even if these are only short-term goals, such as completing an eLearning course.

The reason for this is so that new starters know exactly what is expected of them in their new roles as soon as possible, armed with OKRs (objectives and key results) and KPIs (key performance indicators). We think this is a great way to motivate employees to achieve highly and will make it easier for managers to discuss performance and contribution later down the line.

This is also a time to get new starters up to speed on your company’s rewards & recognition program. A little motivation goes a long way!

2. Structure

We all know what it’s like to start a new role. It’s daunting, right? By putting yourself in the shoes of a new starter it’s easier to identify their wants and needs. Something they crave the most in the early stages is structure.

Think of onboarding as a roadmap for future success in the organisation. The roadmap starts from day one on the job and should provide an overview of what the onboarding process looks like. The questions a new starter will want answers to include:

  • How long is the onboarding process? (Depending on role complexity, this can range from a couple of days to several weeks.)
  • What training is included and how will this be done – in-person, online or a mix?
  • How will their progress be tracked? Will formal and informal “check-ins” be done with management or HR?
  • Who will they meet along the way (e.g. other department heads, HR and learning team members, etc.)?
  • What measures are the company taking to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (e.g. is there social distancing in the workplace, are teams working remotely etc.)?

Pretty simple stuff, but essential for filling information gaps and avoiding confusion. It will also mean that the onboarding program has a touch more personalisation, which can make all the difference when someone is learning their way in a fresh environment.

3. A taste of culture

Leading on from the above point, if you make the onboarding process as personal as possible, new employees will slot right into the company culture. A way to do this is to assign a mentor to them.

Over two-thirds (67%) of surveyed executives believe a mentor program for new helpers would help them acclimatise to the culture, yet just 23% of organisations have such a program in place. Assigning a mentor to a new starter can ease the inevitable awkwardness that comes with the territory of starting a new job. Within a matter of days or weeks your new starter will feel comfortable within the workplace and will know who to go to for support.

4. Compliance

Sure, it’s not sexy, but compliance is what keeps organisations and individuals out of trouble. It’s helpful to think of compliance as a “must-have” instead of a “nice-to-have” so that you factor it into every stage of the onboarding journey.

First you should establish if your new employee needs role-specific training. If they do, enrol them in training straight away. Or, maybe make it mandatory to do baseline compliance training. An automated onboarding platform can help ensure that all relevant documentation and information is on file and/or sent to relevant government and regulatory bodies. (This takes the burden off you, because who likes to deal with compliance paperwork?)

Compliance is an especially hot topic in this pandemic-era. Read the Ultimate Guide to HR Compliance in Australia here, and in New Zealand here.

5. Learning

Getting into a new role feels a lot like information overload. There is so much to learn, and often it must be covered quickly: rules, regulations, compliance issues, new technical skills, new soft skills…It can be overwhelming, so have a structured learning process in place.

To create a structured learning process, you should:

  • Break down the content into digestible chunks
  • Start with the basics that everyone needs to master
  • Emphasise what’s critical to their success, so they know where to focus
  • Repeat key points constantly, as people will forget
  • Provide a written plan, so they can see a beginning and an end, and help them understand exactly what’s being covered, how they will be assessed (and if they will be assessed), and how everything helps to reach the end goal

6. The right tools

We get it – everyone is busy. But there’s nothing that says, “we don’t care about you, you’re an afterthought” than not having the right tools and equipment for a new hire on their first day.

Imagine turning up on your first day to find that your desk isn’t set up and you haven’t got a laptop. It’s not a good look!

Having a simple checklist to-hand can help you ensure you have everything you need for the arrival of a new starter. And that goes for the new starters working remotely – show them you care by ensuring they have the hardware they need ahead of time.

7. Consider remote working expectations

Leading on from the above, it’s so important to address that new starters are stepping into a role under rather unique circumstances. It’s helpful to outline the ways COVID-19 may be impacting how and when they work and what is expected of them. Be transparent about the steps your business is taking and reinforce that new challenges also present new opportunities.

The role technology plays in onboarding

A cream of the crop onboarding program isn’t a one conversation thing. Ideally, onboarding should span months and consist of regular check-ins. But not all businesses have the resources to facilitate this.

This is where we come in…

HROnboard can help build induction templates, assign content and tasks, integrate processes with learning systems and report on various metrics. Click here to find out more!

More than tick-the-box

Ultimately, your onboarding program should make the new starter think, “Wow, I’ve made the right decision to work here!” As new employees move through their employment journey, these early experiences will shape how they behave and engage with their employer. That alone is worth creating an onboarding process that is seamless, thorough and more than a tick-the-box exercise.

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 offers innovative cloud-based HR & payroll solutions to more than 1600 organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, helping them to manage, engage, and inspire their people. Our solutions span the entire employee lifecycle, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes a comprehensive suite of complementary solutions that further enhance the onboarding experience, namely Recruitment, Learning Management, HR Core, Survey and Connect. For further information, contact us.

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