The Importance of an Employee Onboarding Process
6 min. Read
Last Updated: 05/31/2023
Table of Contents
Implementing a formal onboarding process is a key part of enhancing employee retention and productivity. Onboarding can help new hires adjust to their jobs more quickly, acquire many of the skills and the knowledge needed to contribute to the organization, and get up to speed on the social and performance elements of their new positions. Read on to learn more about the importance of onboarding and what it takes to implement a solid employee onboarding process at your business.
The First Six Months: Establishing a Formal Employee Onboarding Process
The first six months can be critical for a new employee as they form impressions that can impact retention and performance. Establishing a clear, formal onboarding process can set each new employee up for success by helping them navigate the company environment and understand what it takes to succeed in their new position. A formal onboarding and orientation process may include written materials, orientation courses and presentations from HR and managers, meetings with internal stakeholders, shadowing and training, and ongoing mentorship.
Why Is Onboarding Important?
In a competitive hiring landscape, it's important to take steps to make a great first impression and focus on how the business welcomes new hires. From the time an offer is extended until the day the new hire becomes fully productive, the employee onboarding experience can lay the foundation for long-term success.
Here's a closer look at some reasons why having a formal employee onboarding process is important.
Helps Communicate Cultural Norms
Each business has its own organizational culture. The earlier an employee understands what is expected of them and what it takes to succeed within the organization, the more likely they are to become a productive and satisfied employee. Communicating cultural norms can include sharing written, formal policies, and explaining why they are important and how they're enforced. It may also involve explaining the organizational structure, outlining internal processes and communications protocols, and ensuring that the employee understands what steps they can take to approach specific challenges. Finally, successful onboarding also requires communicating the intangible factors of the work environment.
Shortens the Time to Productivity
Conventional wisdom suggests that it takes weeks or months for an employee to get up to speed in a new position. But thorough onboarding programs can drastically reduce the time to productivity. One of the most important aspects of this is communicating the responsibilities of the position, the expectations and metrics for success, the reporting lines, and processes associated with the position. One-on-one time with the employee's manager to answer questions can help the employee understand their role as part of the big picture, and providing necessary training can also help increase productivity earlier in employment. Spending time explaining team dynamics, team processes, and norms of communication is another way to underscore employee success.
Fulfills Brand Promise and Differentiation
Your onboarding process should help give employees the tools and knowledge needed to represent the business. Best practices would include communicating these values and unique selling points. Provide clear examples of how each position would represent these values as part of their role, from a vice president of sales interacting with key clients to an assistant representing the brand on the phone. Finally, site visits or themed presentations that show successful examples of company branding can reinforce these points.
Supports Training, Development, and Performance
As your company develops an onboarding program, it should include both standardized components and specialized adaptations for individual employees and positions. Your onboarding process should have the flexibility to provide specialized training to help each employee succeed in their specific position. In addition, consider building in support that provides a development plan incorporating mentorship, future training opportunities, and growth assignments. Managers, mentors, and HR staff can then support employees as they grow.
Reduces New Employee Turnover
With quit rates reaching record levels, many businesses continue to struggle to provide a positive employee experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that the nationwide quit rate was 2.6 percent or about 4 million individuals in February 2023, one of the highest rates since 2000 when BLS first collected this data. And according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as much as 50 percent in the first four months of employment.
These statistics support the idea that the risk of employee turnover can be present even during a new hire's first days and months. Many HR leaders understand this and have identified the importance of having a new-hire onboarding process. According to the 2022 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, 35 percent of HR leaders said focusing on the onboarding process to help new hires feel engaged and be productive as soon as possible works best when it comes to fostering overall employee engagement.
Acclimates New Hires
Part of a successful onboarding process includes providing new hires with information about your industry, business history, and big-picture strategy. They should also become acclimated to your culture, values, and the people they'll be working with. As part of this introduction process, allow employees to reflect on their own background, values and strengths, and career aspirations. Then empower them to contribute to their role and place in the company, identify potential growth opportunities, and provide them with the resources and information they need to be successful.
Encourages Employee Engagement
Taking a concerted approach to acclimating new hires also aids in employee engagement. Consider establishing onboarding programs that account for factors such as the unique ways each new hire may like to learn. Successful onboarding programs embrace a variety of learning methods and resources (video, interactive elements, webinars, apps, animation, etc.) that promote greater interest and engagement. Shadowing team members or establishing mentoring programs can also offer real-life information that you can't capture in new-hire materials. When new employees can take what they've learned and apply it to the actual workspace, it increases their sense of comfort and builds confidence in their ability to contribute to a new work environment.
Assists With Recruiting
A positive onboarding experience can increase word of mouth to future candidates and boost an employer’s reputation as a great place to work. During onboarding, allocate time for new hires to begin forming a solid relationship with their manager, create opportunities for new hires to meet colleagues from around the business, and build on the interactions they had during the recruiting process.
Begin or Improve Your Employee Onboarding Process Today
When you take the time to recruit and hire high-quality talent, it's important that you also acclimate them to their jobs and the business in engaging and effective ways. Learn more about how you can streamline the onboarding process to help new hires get up and running more efficiently with Paychex.