An established employee onboarding process is crucial to the success of your business. Without one, you can find yourselves struggling to maintain your employee headcount, and you can forget about growing sustainably all together.
In fact, a bad onboarding process can cost your business between 90% and 200% of the new employee’s salary. For example replacing a Network Engineer being paid £40,000, can cost your business from £36,000 all the way up £80,000. So it pays to get your employee onboarding right…
So let’s look at what the employee onboarding process actually is, why it’s so important, and the steps you can take to improve yours.
What is the Employee Onboarding Process?
To most businesses, the employee onboarding process is how you help someone settle into the business on their first day, first week and maybe even first month. But the reality is much different.
The employee onboarding process starts during the interview process, continues on to the new employees induction into the business, and typically actually concludes at the one year mark for your not-so-new hire. At this point, the shift turns from employee onboarding to employee retention.
Your employee onboarding process covers everything to do with hiring and retaining a new employee. This means:
- Ensuring candidate’s have a good experience in the interview process.
- Taking care of the paperwork, contracts and legal necessities.
- Onboarding the new hire into the business, letting them know their work responsibilities.
- Helping them to meet the team and become a part of the company culture.
- Set clear and achievable goals, to help them find success.
- And set regular reviews, to ensure they’re enjoying their new role.
So, it’s a little more complicated than simply showing someone their desk and giving them a new laptop.
Why is an Employee Onboarding Process so Important?
So obviously having a strong, well-defined employee onboarding process is a good thing. After all, the quicker your new employees hit the ground running with their work the better. But there are plenty of other reasons your employee onboarding process is important.
1. Help New Employees Understand their Work Responsibilities
As we’ve mentioned, a smooth employee onboarding process helps your new employees understand their role quickly, and start to excel in their job faster. And similarly prevents employees from being confused and stressed with not understanding how their role will work.
In fact, a study from Glassdoor found that a defined employee onboarding process improves productivity by 70%.
2. Helps Employees Understand the Technology and Clients They Work With
An incredibly important part of onboarding your new employee, is getting them up to speed on the technologies and clients they’ll be working with.
With how important the tech your new employees work with is, the quicker they acclimate to any new technology or tools they will be using, the quicker they can start to provide a quality service to your team, customers, and clients.
Similarly, the clients or customers you work with are all different with different needs. So the sooner your new employee understands them and their business needs the better.
3. Employees Become a Part of the Team
Part of your employee onboarding process should be dedicated to helping your new employees feel like a part of the company, build connections and friendships with other members of the team, and overall enjoy their time in their new job. The same earlier survey from Bamboo HR found that 91% of new hires who received company culture training were more connected to their workplace.
4. It Improves Employee Retention and Saves You Money
When people enjoy their work more, they’re more likely to stay. Makes sense, right? And the evidence is there to support it: Because the same study from Glassdoor found that a strong employee onboarding process can improve new hire retention by an incredible 82%.
And higher employee retention, obviously saves your business tens of thousands on recruitment and replacing employees.
The Employee Onboarding Process Timeline
This employee onboarding process timeline and checklist should help you to build and optimise your own internal employee onboarding process.
During the interview/hiring process
As we’ve mentioned, the employee onboarding process doesn’t start on an employee’s first day but starts during the interview process. Because this is a new employee’s first impression of your business, and will likely influence their opinion of your company. So what can you do during the interview process to improve employee onboarding?
- Make sure the job description accurately reflects the actual job. Starting a new job and finding out it’s actually different from the role you applied for is one of the biggest reasons for employees leaving when they start a new job.
- Be clear about the interview process structure and length. Communicating about the structure of the interview process not only helps interviewees feel more at ease in the process, it shows great things about your business’s organisation and structure.
- Following up and giving feedback after interviews. The waiting after an interview is painful, so try to be prompt when giving feedback, and let them know when to expect a yes or no answer. So when someone does join your business, they’ll remember that you didn’t leave them wondering how the interview went for weeks.
- Make a decision in a reasonable timeframe. Your new employee will remember how long they had to wait for a decision. If it’s a couple of days, they’ll be excited that your business is excited to have them on board. If it took you weeks, they’ll think they were second or third choice, or that your business takes weeks to make any decisions.
Before their first day
Before your new employee joins the company, there’s a whole host of things you need to get sorted: Paperwork, contracts, hardware, software, and any new starter admin.
The majority of which you’ll already be aware of. And while they’re hardly exciting, they are all essential. And it won’t be a good first impression for your business, if your new employee starts on their first day and they don’t have a laptop to start working on for example.
Your checklist for a new employee joining your business will look something like this, depending on your company, the industry you work in, and the role:
- Any contracts or paperwork that need to be signed before the employee starts.
- Prepare the technology that your new employee needs before they start: Any hardware or software they will need access to.
- Organise access to the building or parking.
- Arrange someone to provide orientation and welcome the new employee.
- Arrange welcome lunch or social events, to help them feel like a part of the team.
- Organise their schedule for the first days/weeks. To help your new employee hit the ground running and alleviate their onboarding anxiety, provide them an outline of their first few weeks.
Their first day
Your new employee’s first day is perhaps their most important. It’s a stressful day for your new employee, and can be an indicator of what the rest of their time at your business will be like. So it’s important to get it right.
The employee’s first day should help them get started in their work, introduce them to the team, and help with their office orientation. It should look like the following:
- Have someone ready to welcome them, show them to their desk and give them a tour of the office.
- Introduce them to their team: And give the team some time to meet the new employee without it feeling rushed.
- Organise a meeting with their direct manager: The new employees manager is someone they’ll be working closely with for years to come, and their relationship with their manager can make or break their experience in the job.
- Give them some time to set up their desk and workstation. Just giving the new employee a bit of time to set up their laptop, email, and anything else they need.
- Establish what their role and responsibilities are, with the new employee. The sooner you help establish exactly what’s expected of them, the sooner they can work towards these expectations.
- Conduct a formal onboarding meeting: As well as onboarding that helps them become a part of the company and get started with their work, you should also aim to give them an overview of the company structure, their holiday entitlements and other workplace benefits.
Their first week
Once the new employee has had their first day, it’s time to help them settle into their role and give them some targets and objectives to work towards: While also establishing what their role will look like moving forward. This will include:
- Conduct their first 1:1 meeting. Regular 1:1 meetings with the direct manager will ensure the new employee is happy in their role and gives them the opportunity to discuss with you if they aren’t. Weekly 1:1’s are a good idea, early in their new role.
- Set 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year goals and objectives. Working with the new employee to establish goals gives them accountability, and helps to set standards to measure them against.
- Outline their training and progression plan. This will include any on-the-job training, external training opportunities, and how they will be supported to progress within the company.
- Give them all the information they need about the account/ customers and clients they will be working with. Your first week should be used to get them up to speed as much as possible, before they start getting stuck in with their work.
- Set them their first piece of work. This will allow you to begin gauging their performance, while helping the employee actually sink their teeth into their work.
- Arrange their first company social event. Whether it’s drinks after work or lunch with the team, the sooner the better to start making the employee feel like a member of the team.
Their first few months
Most companies would consider the employee onboarding process finished by now. But the very best companies understand that employee onboarding continues on, helping the new employee hit their first year targets, and find success in their role.
- Have monthly regular 1:1 meetings. Moving to a monthly 1:1 meeting will ensure that your employee feels like they have access to any support if they need it, and that they remain on track with deliverables.
- Have monthly informal check-ups. 1:1 meetings can sometimes feel a bit formal. Having an informal catch-up at lunch or over coffee can make your new employee feel more comfortable to address any issues they’re having.
- Ask how their training is supporting their development: How are they getting on with their training, do they feel supported to progress, and do they feel like their career goals are still achievable?
- Ask for feedback on your employee onboarding. Towards the 6 month mark is a good time to ask for some feedback on your employee onboarding process. This will help to improve your process, while giving your employee a voice to affect change within the business.
Because almost a third of employees who quit a job quit within the first three months, these first few months are absolutely crucial to your employee onboarding and to the success and growth of your business. And if that sounds dramatic, it’s because it is.
Their first year
The end of the first year is generally the conclusion of the employee onboarding. Here, we see efforts shift from helping a new employee become settled into their role and find success, to long-term employee retention efforts, and ensuring employee wellbeing.
Your Employee Onboarding Checklist
Frequently Asked Questions about Employee Onboarding
What is employee onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the overall process of onboarding your new employees to your company. This involves helping them understand and perform well in their new role, feel like a part of the team, understand the wider company and business, and make sure they’re happy in their role.
How long should the employee onboarding process take?
The act of onboarding someone to your business should take about a year, as this is how long it takes for someone to start performing at the same level as the rest of their team. The most important period for employee onboarding however, is the first 6 months.
What makes a good onboarding experience?
A good onboarding experience is one that is individually tailored to each new employee. While a one-size-fits-all approach is certainly easier for large businesses, the individual approach will ensure higher levels of employee satisfaction.
And the effort that a business puts into its onboarding experience will obviously directly influence how effective it is. When managers and senior members of the team are active in supporting the person to become a part of the team, not only will they become a more effective employee quicker, they will be less likely to leave and be happier in their role.
Who benefits from a good onboarding process?
A good onboarding experience benefits everyone. It helps new employees to meet everyone on their team, creates a good work relationship with their manager, and helps them to hit the ground running with their work.
For an employer, a good onboarding experience will help to reduce employee turnover and improve the performance and effectiveness of their new employees.
What is the role of HR in onboarding?
In the employee onboarding process, HR plays a pivotal role in ensuring compliance and ensuring paperwork and documentation are completed.
The role of drafting offer letters, ensuring all starter paperwork is completed, and contracts are signed is often the responsibility of HR. Additionally, it can often be the job of HR to welcome the new employee to the company and for initial orientation.