With the increasing speed of business, companies cannot afford to wait for new or lateral hires to “get up to speed” or, worse yet, become disillusioned and leave the company or “quit and stay.” According to industry studies, 90% of employees cement their opinion about a company within the first six months of employment. Clearly, that one or three day orientation does not cut it anymore.
A comprehensive onboarding program is now the approach of choice for best-in-class companies to keep employees engaged throughout their career, reduce turnover, increase employee job satisfaction and, ultimately, raise productivity levels.
A successful onboarding program does not come in a box. There is no plug-and-play solution. Best practice dictates that an onboarding program should be tailored to meet company objectives and reflect common practices within their industry. Successful onboarding programs, however, share similar traits:
- The program is not an exercise completed within three months or less, but a holistic approach which encompasses an employee’s entire career with that company.
- Don’t just focus on new hires, but also include onboarding employees to new positions, departments, groups or projects.
- They utilize technology to automate forms management, task management, training and other components to increase proficiency and time to productivity.
- Create several “touch-points” or engagements with employees beyond the orientation period. Many employees feel abandoned after the initiation and/or orientation phase of onboarding.
- Have robust mentoring programs, measure retention rates and time to performance, and have remediation programs.
- Reinforce the company culture during every phase of the onboarding process.
The Process Starts with Analysis
The key to initiating a successful onboarding program starts with an in-depth analysis of your current orientation or onboarding processes to uncover the following:
- Components that are currently working
- Components that may, unknowingly, be working against you
- Components that require updates or minor tweaking
- Gaps in your current program, compared to Best-in-Class onboarding practices
- Determining exactly what you want to achieve, objectives and expectations
Skipping the analysis phase usually results in subjective solutions that respond only to “best guesses.” It’s like a physician making a diagnosis and prognosis over the phone; “Well, based on what you are telling me, I think you have heartburn…or maybe heart disease…not sure, but take an aspirin or antacid and see how it goes.”
By performing an objective analysis of your current orientation or onboarding process, however, issues and gaps can be quickly identified and an accurate diagnosis and prognosis made. It can be the difference between a program with a solid ROI and one that is inefficient and does not meet your objectives.
It’s More than a New employee Orientation
Remember that sink or swim feeling after your last orientation? Successful onboarding programs don’t just address new hires or the first few weeks of employment, but encompass the entire employment cycle of the employee from pre-hire to career pathing and advancement.
This series of articles will discuss the seven phases of a comprehensive best-in-class onboarding program. The next article will discuss the importance of the pre-hire stage to successful onboarding. It is important to remember, however, that the first step to a great onboarding program is figuring out what exactly is broken. Only then can the right approach be designed and implemented.