What is Your Employee Onboarding Plan?

Employee OnboardingHow much thought has your company put into its employee onboarding process?  What kind of employee onboarding programs do you have in place?  A simple orientation on an employee’s first day?  Or a complex, in-depth process which starts out during the recruiting process, and continues beyond orientation?

Companies often fail to realize why employee onboarding is important.  It isn’t just about orienting a new hire with the tasks associated with his or her job.  It’s about assimilation into the workplace.  Onboarding is a gradual transition, and may take as long as a week or even a month following a new hire’s first day.  This process fulfills a number of important functions.  Not only does it reduce misunderstandings and mistakes, but it also helps the new hire to feel comfortable and perform well.  This is just as important for the new employee as it is for the company.  It makes a long-term difference by boosting employee retention.  During the recruiting process, it may even help you to attract more qualified job candidates.

When you are creating an onboarding program, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What objectives should this program accomplish?
  • How can we paint a clear, informative picture for potential job candidates during the recruiting process?
  • How should a new hire feel at the end of the first day?  How can we make the first day experience a positive, memorable one?
  • What would be helpful for the new hire to know about the company culture and work environment?
  • Should mentoring play a role in our onboarding process?
  • How can other managers and co-workers get involved in employee onboarding?
  • How can we prepare the employee’s new workstation in advance?
  • What can we do to make the transition easier for the employee’s family, if applicable?
  • What does our program need to achieve by the end of the first week and first month of training?
  • What are our long-term goals for this new worker?
  • How can we solicit feedback on the recruiting process, and/or measure success based on objective results?
  • Is there any way to adjust the program to improve it over time?  How should it be adjusted for each individual employee to make it more effective?

What are some common onboarding mistakes which you should seek to avoid when you are putting together a program?

  • Narrow goals.  The company’s HR team confuses the goals of orientation with the goals of onboarding and collects and provides limited information during the hiring process.  The human resources department is concerned with integrating the employee as quickly as possible, not necessarily as well as possible.
  • Information overload. Because HR departments are frequently in a rush, they tend to overload new hires with far too much information on the first day.  Instead of streamlining their integration into the workplace and making their first day an enjoyable experience, they overwhelm new hires and make them uncomfortable.
  • Short term mindset. Another common mistake is to fail to look at the long term.  Onboarding shouldn’t be over in a day, and generally it shouldn’t be over in a week, either.
  • Inefficient training. Using presentation materials only to onboard an employee is a mistake.  Employees need interaction.  So do managers.  If all you do is show videos and slideshows to your new hires, how can you learn anything about them and gather feedback?  Another error is to try and conduct the entirety of the onboarding process in person.  This is time consuming, and it also doesn’t make information accessible for later.  Consider uploading your onboarding materials online for easy research and access.  Don’t eliminate face time, but strive for a balance instead.
  • No manager on day one. This is a common mistake that makes new hires feel as if they are unimportant or unwanted.  When management is absent, the message it sends is this:  “We want you to work for us, but we are not interested in your progress, and we do not appreciate you enough to tell you in person how you are doing.”  When management seems “too busy” for new hires, new hires feel neglected and unhappy.  It also sends the message that your managers consider themselves unaccountable for the new hire’s experiences.
  • Delays in onboarding.  Another mistake is to wait until you have hired a number of new employees before you conduct group onboarding.  It may seem like a lot of extra time and work to onboard employees individually, but if you hire an employee and fail to onboard him or her until there are half a dozen others, you will fail your employee and the company as a whole in numerous ways.  Imagine if you were one of those new employees and nobody took the time to make sure you were assimilating to the workplace until days, weeks, or even months had gone by!  Not only would it be irritating and lead to mistakes and misunderstandings, but it would also tell you that you had no individual value to the company.
  • No measurement for success.  Employee onboarding is part of your business plan.  As such, there should be a way to measure its success in terms of employee satisfaction and productivity.  Also come up with long term measurements that examine employee retention.

Why Do So Many HR Departments Make These Mistakes?

Why are these employee onboarding mistakes so common?  Ironically, the problem often comes about because the company’s own HR department is left to create the onboarding plans.  Since the HR department has numerous responsibilities, they focus on making the process as quick as possible and reducing administrative hassles.  They should be focusing on how to make the process as effective as possible, so that new employees can comfortably and productively integrate into the organization.

Your current employee onboarding process may be quick, fast, and generic, but your employees are individuals, and each of them deserves extra time and attention during the recruiting process and after.  You will see fewer employee errors and you will retain more qualified employees if you have a comprehensively structured onboarding process in place.  Those results will be measurable and will help your company to succeed.

The Solution:  Hire a PEO for Employee Onboarding

A professional employer organization, or PEO, can handle many different aspects of HR for your company.  When you contract with a PEO, one of the many tasks you can assign your new partners is employee onboarding.  Since the PEO specializes in HR tasks, including onboarding, they have more time and energy to put into the process.  Since they are familiar with your benefits plans and may even be involved in making your employee handbooks, they are in the perfect position to provide thorough information and training to new hires in various departments and positions.  Your human resources department then is able to free up resources to work on other projects.

Your managers and the new hire’s co-workers will need to stay involved in the onboarding process, but a PEO can provide guidance to members of your team.  With an improved HR process, you will start attracting better candidates during the recruiting process, retaining superior employees, and enjoying the productivity boost which comes about with more effective integration procedures.

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