Majoring in communications, Bob graduated in the top 5% of his class at one of the top public universities in his state. With stellar grades, 2 coveted internships under his belt, exemplary references and a positive, collaborative approach to work, Bob had his pick of 4 positions. He chose an entry-level job with a top digital marketing agency just 5 miles from the campus of his alma mater. Bob had his dream job, and the agency felt lucky to get him.
Fast forward 6 months: Bob is sitting in his manager’s office. His manager isn’t happy. He tells Bob the marketing proposal he submitted the previous day is “sub-standard.” Bob asks what the problem is. His manager tells him, “Your copy and call to action are for search engine optimization services. We stopped doing SEO last year. Your whole proposal is worthless.”
Bob responds, ”Well, it’s still on the website, and it’s still in some of our promo materials. I spent 6 weeks on this proposal. Why didn’t someone tell me?”
Bob’s manager tells him the meeting is concluded. Bob is starting to think about moving on.
A TEXTBOOK CASE OF BAD ONBOARDING
That’s bad onboarding, and it’s potentially a serious problem for business. Effectively leveraged, onboarding is a process which empowers new employees with the skills and training necessary to succeed at their jobs and remain with the businesses that hired them over the long haul.
As the Society for Human Resource Management correctly notes, effective onboarding tends to boost employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity and retention:
“Finding the best candidates for positions in your organization is only part of building an effective team. The process of onboarding new employees can be one of the most critical factors in ensuring recently hired talent will be productive, contented workers. However, in some organizations, onboarding is often confused with orientation. While orientation might be necessary — paperwork and other routine tasks must be completed — onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.”
WHY IS EFFECTIVE ONBOARDING IMPORTANT?
The quality of a business’s onboarding process determines the extent to which new workers possess the skills and training to do their jobs, as well as how the companies which hired them operate. That makes them more successful and productive, which leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.
But what a growing number of businesses are beginning to understand is that effective onboarding also impacts the bottom line. This is because employees who aren’t engaged are more likely to move on to other jobs. And, according to Forbes, the average cost to replace an employee is $15,000 — and that doesn’t include the price tag for so-called “productivity costs.”
As Medium notes, whereas employee turnover in general spikes in the first year, effective onboarding tends to increase employee engagement and productivity:
- About 20% of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days
- More than 25% of new hires move on to other companies within their first year
- Almost 70% of employees remain with the business that hired them if they experienced “great onboarding”
- Employees who experience effective onboarding are on average 50% more productive
- More than half of companies that invest in robust onboarding report an improvement in employee engagement
WHAT ARE THE CHIEF BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE ONBOARDING?
Those metrics speak to the ways effective onboarding can positively impact the bottom line — but the benefits of great onboarding extend to other mission-critical aspects of your business operation, including the following 4:
- You’ll enhance talent acquisition: top performers want to work for businesses where satisfaction and engagement are strong. If your onboarding process is weak, word will likely spread in your industry, and top talent will tend to take other job offers.
- You’ll shorten the learning curve: employees who don’t “learn the ropes” will waste time continually seeking the answers they need to perform effectively. An effective onboarding program can bring new employees up to speed more quickly, increasing overall business productivity.
- You’ll boost employee retention: as noted above, attrition costs your business money. Effective onboarding demonstrably boosts engagement levels which in turn ensure higher retention rates.
- You’ll improve workplace culture: “company culture” isn’t something you can easily quantify. Rather, the benefits of a positive workplace culture appear in the level of trust, engagement, mutual support and collaboration within your business — and that can mean the difference between a business that merely survives — and on the thrives and grows.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS: STRATEGIC ONBOARDING
Successful businesses — like successful nations — are the ones that recognize and reward individual difference and diversity. The “melting pot” approach to company culture, in other words, tends to discount the substantial contributions employees with alternate points of view — and innovative approaches to problem solving — make to company success.
“Strategic onboarding,” rather than pushing new employees into a one-size-fits-all acclimation process, recognizes not only what new employees need to learn about a business, but also what the company can learn from them. Said differently, strategic onboarding transforms the process from one grounded in inflexible rules and business norms to one in which the onboarding process is a personal journey for each new hire.
Of course, every business is different, with different employees and different HR challenges. That said, most succeed with a strategic onboarding process that includes the following 4 elements:
- Cultural mastery: employees need to understand more than job responsibilities. Knowing your company’s vision and mission, and the core values it promotes, is critical to their appreciation of the unique ways they can contribute to business success.
- Personal development: employees who receive meaningful help from managers and coworkers are more likely to succeed. Strategic onboarding helps your workers develop the critically important support networks which build trust, loyalty and engagement.
- Early support: do new employees understand to whom they should turn when they have questions or problems? Your business needs to develop a “go to” list for each new employee. Armed with this kind of support, new hires won’t experience the early boondoggles that slow them down and stifle their development.
- Career development opportunities: one of the principal reasons employees leave is the perception that they can’t grow their careers at the business that hired them. It’s important to show employees a career development path within your company. This so-called “employee journey mapping” approach (and requisite training opportunities) will increase both engagement and the likelihood employees will stay with your business.
Three months after the meeting with his manager, Bob resigned. In his exit interview, Bob told HR that the company had “let him down,” that they simply hadn’t provided him with the training, tools and resources he needed to be successful in his job. Although Bob didn’t use the word, what he was describing was an anemic onboarding process.
An effective, strategic onboarding program can boost employee engagement, satisfaction and retention and, in the process, make your business more productive and profitable. But it can also be confusing and complicated. That’s where we can help.
To learn more about the ways our accounting, HR payroll, benefits administration and talent acquisition services can support your company’s strategic planning, drive innovation and help you achieve your principal business goals, view our onboarding video, or contact us today.