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How to Onboard New Employees for Greater Business Growth

Posted by Dawn White on Mar 27, 2022 8:00:00 AM
Dawn White
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New employee talking with her HR manager during employee onboarding

More than 4 million people quit their jobs in January 2022, nearly matching the record number set two months before that. Meanwhile, employers spent the new year trying to fill more than 11 million job openings.

While HR teams need to find efficient ways to recruit new employees fast, it’s just as important to ensure their onboarding processes are exceptional experiences. Effective employee onboarding doesn’t just make for a more pleasant transition, it’s critical for the health of the organization.

Research shows that poor onboarding is one of the leading causes of employee turnover. But a great onboarding experience can provide several benefits — to your company and to your employees. For example, effective employee onboarding:

  • Sets the stage for the long term employee experience
  • Boosts employee performance
  • Engages new employees
  • Boosts employee retention

It also speaks volumes about the value that your company places on your new hires, and creates a welcoming environment where they can feel like they belong, from day one.

IDI has spent years taking a purposeful approach to our employee onboarding processes. We’ve learned a lot about how to make the experience positive and productive. Here are four best practices we’ve discovered along the way that every HR team should consider.

Related: 5 Best Practices for Onboarding Remote Employees

Create Onboarding Cohorts

Most companies onboard new employees as they’re hired. If you’re going through a round of multiple hires, that puts you on a conveyor belt of constant onboarding. With some front-end planning, you can organize those new employees into cohorts, or classes.

Onboarding in classes streamlines your efforts, reduces duplicate work, and lets you move onto your high-value responsibilities more quickly. It also reduces operational costs and reduces interruptions company wide.

This batch approach to onboarding creates a more enjoyable experience for your new employees, as well. Onboarding at the same time generates a built-in buddy system. New staff have others who share the same orientation and transitional experience.

Learning is more effective, since some classmates will ask questions that others wouldn’t think of. Some hires will pick up on things that others don’t, and that shared learning experience is like a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Being hired in a class allows people to ask questions of other people in their class, as opposed to waiting until they meet with their hiring manager or the trainer. Talking to classmates is less intimidating than asking a manager, because there’s less risk of looking like you’re slow to catch on.

The batch approach also gives people more comfort that they aren’t the only one going through a new and foreign experience. If something happens that they don’t understand, they can filter that experience through others in the class.

To help foster relationships among the cohort, create a chat group specifically for each class of new hires. It’s a great way to get feedback from others, develop relationships, help each other learn, and get onboarded faster.

As you form onboarding classes, make the cohorts interdepartmental whenever possible. Cross-departmental relationships help tear down silos and build better collaboration throughout the company — something that will benefit your staff long after they’ve been onboarded.

Related: How to Recruit and Hire Generation Z Employees

Have Everything in Place

Imagine what it’s like to start your first day of work at a company you’re thrilled about working for. You arrive a few minutes early, nervous but excited. Your manager escorts you to your new desk…which is bare. Nothing is set up and there’s no laptop available for you.

This isn’t a rare occurrence, but it should never happen. You don’t want a new hire to come in and feel unwelcome. Instead, they should feel like the company has been eagerly waiting for their first day on the job. Everything should be in place, and getting set up should be easier than expected. All of their needs should be anticipated and taken care of before your new employee arrives.

Develop a checklist of everything a new hire needs on their first day, first week, first month, and first quarter. Use the checklist to ensure that everything is in place — especially that first day.

Consider everything from the desk setup to technologies to welcome packets. Who will take them out to lunch their first day? Who do they need to meet, and what meetings do they need to be invited to? What needs to happen after their first week or first month? What milestones need to be completed at the end of the first quarter?

A smooth setup makes it easier for employees to start contributing right away, because they aren’t spending their time hunting down IT staff for network access or trying to figure out who they’ll be collaborating with outside of their department.

Document Your Processes

IDI Academy launched just as the pandemic shutdown occurred, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The onboarding tool is a knowledge base that’s filled with training and onboarding modules for new IDI staff.

IDI Academy is our online hub for self-paced learning, where new employees can familiarize themselves with all of our processes, procedures, and internal knowledge. It’s designed as a curriculum, and it’s structured so that tasks and documents are completed in sequence.

There’s a welcome letter and an invitation to get familiar with the employee handbook. The handbook includes information such as policies, benefits, and a glossary of IDI terms. It also includes employee roles and responsibilities, so that it’s clear who to go to with questions.

Providing those documents at the click of a button is invaluable for new employees. Your system doesn’t need to be a sophisticated learning management system — it could be as simple as an internal wiki. But it’s more important than ever to have an online resource hub of information, especially as workplaces are adopting some form of remote working.

Related: How to Retain Female Employees During the Great “She-cession”

Give Employees the Big Picture

Sometimes new hires can feel like they’re floating out in space or stuck on their own island. It’s important to understand the impact they have on the organization, and to develop good working relationships with their counterparts in other departments.

An organizational chart can help, but the best way to do this is by meeting key personnel in person.

Have hiring managers arrange for new employees to meet key personnel from other departments in brief get-to-know-you meetings. Provide a loose structure to the conversation that’s designed for employees to learn how their work benefits and affects other areas of the company.

These meetings are also great opportunities to get to know people they’ll be collaborating with cross-departmentally.

Set Your Company Up for Greater Growth in 2022

As an HR executive, you’re in a key position to help your company grow, and creating an effective onboarding program can make a tremendous difference in your organization’s productivity and profitability.

Businesses that successfully retain their employees during this period of labor shortages are a step ahead of the competition, and these best practices can help set your company up for lower turnover rates in 2022 and beyond.

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