Now that the first quarter of the year is behind us, it seems like a good time to revisit the topic of employee onboarding experiences. There may have been many new hires since the beginning of the year, and many of them are probably still within their probation periods. It’s a good time to reflect on their experience in your company so far.
Another reason I decided to bring up this topic is an article I read last year, about a person describing his or her first – and last – day as a junior software developer at a company, recently reappeared in my feed. It is well worth the read, and it raised a lot of red flags to me about how poor this person’s onboarding experience was.
A bad onboarding experience can leave a bad taste in both the employer and employee’s mouth, especially when the employer doesn’t hold itself accountable for the poor experience (as was the case in the article above). A good onboarding experience, however, provides many more benefits to both the employee and employer beyond just getting the employee ramped up as quickly as possible.
The onboarding experience is more than just a new hire orientation program, can start long before the person shows up on day one, and enables new employees to be part of the company culture the moment they are hired. It gives them access to materials, information, and tools needed to work toward common goals in the most productive way and also improves retention rates, particularly within the crucial first 90 days of employment.
Following are four of the main benefits of a good employee onboarding experience.
1. Improved talent acquisition
First impressions last and word spreads quickly within industries, so your employees will definitely let their peers know if they have a positive onboarding experience. This adds to a positive company culture, and when word gets around, you will have no problems attracting the best talent in the industry. A bad onboarding experience results in new hires jumping to early conclusions that your organization is poorly managed, and that’s not an impression you want to make.
2. Decreased time to productivity
The obvious benefit of a good onboarding process is to get new hires ramped up quickly so they can start making a contribution as soon as possible. This will involve arming new hires with all the information, equipment, and support they need to help them succeed. Positive experiences promote positive attitudes, so if new employees feel a high level of support from the company, they are more likely to be more engaged in their work, and you will see increases in efficiency and productivity.
3. Increased retention rates
It’s a no-brainer that employees who leave your company not only negatively affect the culture but also have a negative impact on costs. Studies show that it can cost a company up to 40% of an annual salary to hire a new employee. A good onboarding process greatly increases the likelihood that a new employee will show up on their first day, stay over the first 90 days, and (once they are immersed in the company culture) become long-term employees.
4. Promote better company culture
This is a rather broad benefit, but it ultimately comes down to the relationships new hires build with the people in the company. A good onboarding process provides new hires with a strong support network to help reduce anxieties when starting a new job and build trust and alignment. Research indicates that the most engaged employees are the ones who have strong connections to their co-workers and managers.
There are many more benefits of onboarding, which I won’t go into now, but I would love to hear your comments on what else you think would make a good onboarding experience, what other benefits you see, or stories of your own onboarding experiences.
At the end of the day, an onboarding program should treat new hires as people – not as commodities, a way to check off compliance requirements, nor a method to overload the new hire with too much information. By focusing on building and promoting the culture and connection between the new hire and the rest of the employees in an organization, a strong onboarding program will help encourage new hires really invest in their own career development.
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