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10 Best Onboarding Practices for All Companies

12 Common Mistakes and 6 Benefits for Onboarding


Written by HRCap, Inc.

July 13, 2023



First impressions matter, especially in the world of business. As organizations strive to attract and retain top talent, the onboarding process has become a crucial stage for setting the tone and trajectory of an employee’s experience and career, especially since 20% of turnover takes place in the first 45 days. New hires leave for multiple reasons, such as receiving a better job offer, not having clarity about the role, facing poor management, or even experiencing poor onboarding.


Onboarding is the comprehensive process in which new hires are integrated into the organization to get best familiar with its structure, culture, vision, mission, and their role within it. Effective onboarding goes beyond basic paperwork and orientation and requires the right amount of resources and preparation to set the stage for long-term success, engagement, and growth.



Commonly Made Onboarding Mistakes


There are common pitfalls and mistakes that organizations often make during this critical process, which can be detrimental to the growth and success of new hires. By recognizing these missteps, companies can proactively address them, avoid making the same mistakes, and optimize for a smoother onboarding experience.


1. Lack of Pre-Boarding


Many companies do not engage or pre-board their new hires before the start date. This can be a lost opportunity to get the new hire prepared and feel welcomed. 64% of new hires received no pre-boarding experience.


2. Unpreparedness


Some companies fail to prepare proper equipment that new hires need to start their first week, and even their first month. In fact, 43% of new hires waited more than a week for workstation logistics and equipment to be in place.


3. Outdated Training


Another common mistake during onboarding is having outdated training materials. 41% of HR professionals felt they needed to update training in onboarding.


4. Unstructured Schedule and Plan


Some companies do not have a structured plan for how they onboard new hires. Without a structured plan, managers waste time or forget important information to share with the new hire. 41% of employers think that not having a structured onboarding process is detrimental to their organization, yet 36% of companies don’t have any structured onboarding process at all.


5. Unclear Goals and Expectations


Organizations that do not set clear goals and expectations are not setting up their new hires for success. 60% of companies reported that they don’t set any goals or milestones for new hires. Without clear goals to work towards, new hires may not understand what is expected of them.


6. Limited Onboarding Time


Another factor that is overlooked is the duration of the onboarding process. Only 15% of companies continue onboarding after six months. However, organizations with shorter onboarding programs are 9% less likely to retain their first-year employees compared to those with programs that are a month or more.


7. Insufficient Onboarding Budget


Some companies invest little to no money into onboarding new hires. As many as 35% of companies spend $0 on onboarding new hires.


8. Excessive Paperwork


Although gathering essential paperwork is an important part of the process, paperwork should not be the main focus of onboarding. Yet 58% of companies admit that they focus on processes and paperwork when onboarding new hires.


9. Overload of Information


Employers may overwhelm new hires by providing them with too much information and tasks all at once. On average, new hires are given 54 onboarding tasks to complete.


10. Absence of Network for New Hire


Another mistake is not connecting the new hire with peers and mentors right away during the onboarding process. 58% of Talent Acquisition and HR leaders say the most difficult part of onboarding new employees is helping them to develop their networks. Though many Fortune 500 companies do have mentoring programs, only a quarter of small companies have them.


11. Void of Feedback


Not giving feedback to new hires can also be detrimental to the onboarding process. In fact, 40% of workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.


12. Inadequate Support


Employers also make the mistake of not checking in and providing enough support to new hires which can impact their confidence to excel in the role. Only 29% of those surveyed felt fully supported and prepared to excel in their defined role.



Importance and Benefits of Proper Onboarding


The biggest common mistake is overlooking the importance and underestimating the benefits of onboarding. Effective onboarding significantly benefits organizations in the short and long run.


1. Drives Commitment


A great onboarding experience will increase the level of commitment an employee will feel for the organization. In fact, employees who reported having a great onboarding feel up to 18 times more committed to their employer.


2. Boosts Engagement Rate


As a result, committed employees tend to be more engaged in the work that they do. 53% of HR Executives indicated that effective onboarding increases employee engagement rates.


3. Improves Performance


Having a well-structured onboarding can also improve overall levels of new hire performance by 11%.


4. Elevates Employee Retention


Since onboarding boosts commitment, engagement, and performance, it also naturally improves retention rates. A study shows that 69% of employees were more likely to stick with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.


5. Increases Productivity


Overall, with reduced employee turnover and new-hire training, organizations can experience 50% greater new-hire productivity.


6. Grows Revenue


With a positive onboarding experience, new hires will be more efficient in their current roles and add more value to the company. Organizations with structured onboarding reported a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue.



10 Best Onboarding Practices


With now a better understanding of the common mistakes and the importance of proper onboarding, all companies must review their current onboarding programs, benchmark other effective industry onboarding processes, and carefully begin to incorporate such best practices.


1. Pre-Board New Hires, Earlier


As soon as new hires sign the job offer, organizations should begin to engage new employees before their start date. Employers can send a welcome email and gift that speaks to the company culture. Companies that engage new hires with pre-boarding are 11% more likely to retain first-year employees as compared to those without pre-boarding in place.


Example: Linkedin sends congratulatory emails and an interactive PDF detailing their role and what to expect on their first day. Additionally, new employees receive the LinkedIn Culture Code, which introduces them to the company’s workflow and workplace culture.


2. Prepare Proper Resources


Before the new employee begins working, employers should check the equipment and resources that the new hire would need to start off their first day without a problem. This can include computers, workspaces, and online credentials to access the internet and online platforms. Not having the necessary equipment on the first day would not only slow down the new hire’s onboarding process but could leave the new employee wondering if they made the right choice.


Example: Netflix prepares all the necessary equipment, such as office space, equipment, and documents, for the first day to go smoothly.


3. Provide Updated Technical Training


Even though new hires were hired for their skills and background, it is still important to help them to adjust and adapt their skillsets to a new work environment. Technical training is especially important to consider because 64% of U.S. employees reported that they would leave their employer within the next year because there aren’t enough opportunities for skills development.


Example: PURE Insurance provides an extensive paid training program for new hires in the Member Advocate role. During the three-month program, new hires learn what they need to know to do well in their position, as well as PURE’s products, solutions, and practices.


4. Create a Structured Schedule


Having a structured schedule will help both managers and new employees to know what needs to be done during onboarding. The schedule should outline what the new hire will be learning and what they will need to accomplish within the first 1-6 months.


Example: Indeed provides managers with a step-by-step guide and onboarding checklist to ensure a smooth onboarding process.


5. Define Clear Goals and Expectations


With a structured schedule, managers can then write out clear goals and expectations based on what the new employee needs to accomplish. This can also help employees to build greater job satisfaction and confidence as they reach their goals and milestones.


Example: DigitalOcean provides a clear plan for new hires’ first 90 days, which includes what they should achieve and who they should meet, so they know what is expected of them.


6. Introduce Work Gradually


By having an organized schedule, employers can also gradually transition new hires into their job roles and responsibilities without overwhelming them with too much information.


Example: Quora provides new employees with a clear set of projects to start with, including a project that can be completed by the end of the first week. Additionally, new hires are given 10 onboarding talks over the first few weeks while receiving training.


7. Cover Company Culture in Orientation


Instead of just going over paperwork, documentation, and processes, employers should also go over the company culture, mission, and values to align the new employees with them. Though it is one thing for the employee to research the company’s culture and values, it is another thing for the company to show how the culture and values align with the programs and business processes.


Example: The first stage of Square’s onboarding process is focused on helping new hires understand the company’s vision, basic procedures, and the products and services the business offers. Bazaarvoice also engages new employees with onboarding classes that involve employees from all levels. During these classes, it holds an onboarding scavenger hunt that allows the new hires to get to know the company culture, values, and other employees.


8. Implement Buddy Program


Providing an onboarding buddy to new employees is crucial in providing social context to the position. Having a buddy program helps new hires to understand their role and how they can contribute to the team’s success while increasing productivity and employee satisfaction. One case study done on Microsoft shows new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their overall onboarding experience than those without buddies. 87% of organizations believe that having a buddy program boosts new employee proficiency.


Example: Buffer utilizes a three-buddy system: the Leader Buddy, Role Buddy, and Culture Buddy. Each buddy has a different role in helping the new hire, whether it is understanding the company mission, job position, or work culture.


9. Engage Whole Team in Onboarding


Not only should companies include an onboarding buddy program but they should also involve the rest of the team. By having the new hire connect with other team members, such as their manager, they will develop a stronger sense of belonging. Gallup study shows that when the manager takes an active role in onboarding employees, employees are 3.4 times as likely to feel like their onboarding process was successful.


Example: Indeed has a unique onboarding program in which it groups news hires across different departments together to build cross-functional relationships. This allows new hires to learn about the company culture through different perspectives while promoting collaboration across different departments. Eventbrite would connect new hires with everyone in their organization by placing the new hire profiles around the office so everyone can familiarize themselves with the new employees’ faces and names. Each quarter, the company would also host new-hire socials.


10. Check In Regularly and Provide Feedback


Last but not least, managers should regularly check in with their new hires and provide purposeful feedback, which can help employees to know what they are doing well and how they can improve. 84% of employees who received meaningful feedback felt engaged.


Example: Google’s onboarding process includes a checklist, which requires managers to set up onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire’s first six months.



Conclusion


It is only natural for employees to work more than 3 years at a company that invests in their onboarding process because good onboarding simply highlights the corporate culture and values.

Essentially, prioritizing onboarding shows new hires that the company genuinely values communication, employee engagement, and collaboration.


Therefore, when companies carefully craft and improve their onboarding process, they should intentionally incorporate their values throughout it so that employees are aligned with the company and what it stands for. Only by having a strong onboarding program that resonates with company values will organizations effectively engage new hires and see sustained growth.



Source: HRCap, SHRM, Talentech, StrongDM, CareerBuilder, Jive Software, Oracle, Randstad USA, Business Wire, Sapling HR, Cision US, The Conference Board, Forbes, Gallup, LinkedIn, Softstart, Workplace Intelligence, RippleMatch, HBR, BambooHR, SilkRoad, Click Boarding, HR Cloud




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