The onboarding process is an organisation’s first real chance to make a lasting impression on new recruits. And in todays’ talent-tight market, the risk of losing a new hire to a poor onboarding experience should be top of mind for HR professionals. 

The cost of recruiting and onboarding new hires only to see them leave within the year hurts employers. It also affects company culture over time as it points to a lack of attention to employee wellbeing and engagement. 

According to new research conducted by Hays, 91% of employers in Australia and New Zealand are currently experiencing a skills shortage. Equally concerning is the increasing number of new hires deciding to leave within their probation period, as shown in ELMO 2022 HR Benchmark Report. The survey of over 1500 HR Professionals in Australia and New Zealand found overall new hire turnover rate was at 14% in 2021 – double what it was in 2020. 

With the skills shortage getting more noticeable every year, an engaging and supportive onboarding experience is key to retaining talent in what is an increasingly competitive recruitment landscape.

What does onboarding mean?

Onboarding refers to the process of embedding a new employee into the business, from the admin aspects of uploading their paperwork into the system to the cultural elements that help the new recruit settle into their role. This includes intro meetings with their manager and wider team, a tour of the office, and information on the business, its values, and operational goals.

The onboarding process can also include learning and development, such as compliance training or soft skills sessions. It may also include training on how to use the business’s internal systems or specialist software related to their role.

There is no set time for how long the onboarding process should take, but it’s a good idea to organise check-in meetings at the one week, one month, and three month mark.

The main challenges companies face in onboarding are the difficulty of integrating new recruits into teams and the company culture, as well as the lack of formal processes, check-ins, clarity, and training for new hires.  

Step #1: Create a consistent experience 

The first and most important step is ensuring you have a formal introduction to the company  that is consistent across all new hires, whether they are being onboarded virtually or in-person. 

Without a formal process in place, it can be difficult for a person joining your organisation to gain clarity on their new role and opportunities for future growth. An onboarding system can ensure that all the right information is relayed to new hires at the right points throughout their onboarding journey, reducing the risk of information overload. According to ELMO 2022 HR Benchmark Report, 50% of respondents with fully implemented onboarding technology rated their company’s onboarding process as ‘good’ to ‘excellent’.

Technology can also be used to enhance the new hire experience as well as the experience for managers and HR overseeing the onboarding process. An online process that includes visual workflows, accessible and interactive resources, and information and personalised webpages can drastically improve new employee engagement. HROnboard’s Onboarding Journeys creates memorable, personalised experiences for all the critical ‘moments that matter’.

Step #2: Personalise the journey

 This might seem like a contradiction to step one, but it’s equally important that organisations engage with new hires on a personal level. Although the experience should be consistent in quality across the organisation, there are ways to introduce a degree of personalisation that will help to make new recruits feel valued. For example, why not give employees the choice over how they’re onboarded, whether in-person or virtually. It’s also a good idea for managers to create a bespoke first-week schedule for their new team members.

An effective way to personalise the onboarding journey is to help your new employees set goals during the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. Creating ‘success roadmaps’ helps them visualise their progress, identify positive outcomes and get support when facing potential challenges and obstacles.

Read more: Download HROnboard’s free employee onboarding checklist.

Step #3: Emphasise company culture

The top onboarding challenge cited by organisations in 2021 was integrating new hires into teams and company culture. It doesn’t have to be difficult to provide opportunities for new hires to bond with team members, especially with the right technology and tools.

Most organisations have learnt to adjust to virtual collaboration and communication within teams. However, it’s important to remember that employees need to also interact outside their own teams to enhance their understanding of the wider business, align their work with the organisation’s goals and socialise with a wider cohort of colleagues.

Make sure that your new hires are not too isolated and that they have a chance to interact with employees across the company, contributing to their overall sense of belonging. Company-wide virtual gatherings, team-building exercises or a ‘buddy system’ can go a long way to integrate new hires into the company culture.

This can be encouraged through the onboarding process by introducing goals that extend beyond KPIs and technical aspects of the job to more social aspects like scheduling brief calls to get to know a new team member every week.

First impressions count

There has never been a more important time to use onboarding as an opportunity to lock in employee loyalty and assure them that they’ve made the right decision by joining your organisation. 

Technology can play a significant role in building consistency, personalisation and culture into the onboarding experience. Tools that provide the right metrics can help leaders improve systems and processes with insights based on actual data rather than verbal feedback and anecdotal evidence. 

With high employee turnover anticipated in 2022, these conversations are a proactive way to retain employees. Research from Gallup indicates that 52% of employees who leave their jobs feel their manager or organisation could have done something to prevent them from leaving.

Find out more about how you can leverage technology to transform your with employee experience with HROnboard.

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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