Onboarding – After the Recruitment Process is Completed, the Real Work Begins
Onboarding is an important process that largely determines the future of an employee in an organization. How can the process be built in the safest and most effective manner?
Glassdoor, an American website where current and former employees anonymously review companies, conducted a survey in which they found that onboarding processes graded as “excellent” can improve employee retention in an organization by up to 82%. While this may sound obvious, a recent Gallup survey found that a considerable 88% of companies don’t handle job applications in a correct or efficient manner.
What makes Onboarding so important? How can an organization best approach the process?
Onboarding is a fragile process
An employee’s job entry process (onboarding) is a delicate and fragile one, during which both parties, the employee, and the organization, learn about each other. Just as when entering into a new relationship, the initial encounter brings with it a fresh spirit of enthusiasm and infatuation – but at the same time, the couple will each be evaluating their levels of compatibility and identifying pros and cons relating to the relationship. This is also the stage where the involved parties build foundations of trust, which are vital for the successful further development of any relationship.
Any organization with long-term ambitions would do well to consider the importance of their relationships with their employees and invest time and effort in fine-tuning their onboarding processes. This will allow new employees to fully realize their professional potential while also providing solid foundations for the future.
Important principles for the onboarding process
- See the Human – The onboarding process should be built for humans, not for machines. Therefore, it is important to make the process more friendly and familiar by providing frequent opportunities for interpersonal contact – these will bolster the employee’s confidence and commitment to both the job and the organization.
- Give It Time – High workloads and the fast pace of a company’s development often prevent most organizations from allotting the adequate amount of time for a proper onboarding process. This can lead employees to a sense of being thrown in the deep end, causing frustration and alienation. While some employees may actually be able “to swim”, they would still require support and direction. Moreover, a successful integration into the new organization will lead to a better outcome for all involved. Thus, by properly defining a time frame for onboarding, you will be able to build a suitable process that will help employees comfortably enter the organization and perform their job with confidence and pride.
- The Holistic Systematic Approach – An organization is constructed as a widely integrated system, so it’s vital for each employee to be as familiar as possible with the ins-and-outs of the company. Onboarding plans should be based on as much background material as possible, which includes information about the product and its development, sales, and financing, along with the wider business development plan, involving the various interfaces between the departments. A broad learning program will allow the employee to gain an in-depth acquaintance with the organization, as well as increasing the probability of success in the job, while also providing a sense of belonging and a stronger connection to the company and its values.
- Measurement and Evaluation – Vitally, one should be aware that this process is built on small, achievable milestones which the employee can reach, and through which experience a sense of success. These accomplishments will provide your employees with confidence in their abilities and their performance in the new role. Performance measurements both aid the employee’s ability to position themselves within the organization and allow them to review their personal progress. Self-esteem, self-belief, and self-confidence have important roles in shaping the connection between each employee, their specific roles and managers, and the organization in general.
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5 Tips for Safe Onboarding – Remotely & In-Person
We’ve collated the top tips for creating a safe and secure onboarding plan for your organization. With today’s work practices in mind, both in-person and remote work and management tools are covered.
The main pillar of the document you’ll create consists of a simple “control” table, composed of the following columns:
- Topics to be learnt – the title of each topic along with a general description. For example: Marketing strategy – goals and objectives of the program, execution channels, familiarity with the SWOT model, main marketing materials, etc.
- Responsibility for introducing the content – listing the name of the person who will deliver each specific piece of content. This includes managers, colleagues, subordinates, etc.
Estimated time of content comprehension -Estimating the time it will take to learn certain topics will help in the design of the onboarding schedules.
- Relevant tools -This includes presentations, documents, textbooks, videos, or any other tools that could be important in conveying the various aspects of the content.
- Execution Status – Completed or Uncompleted.
Before executing the onboarding program, it is crucial to ensure that a specific person (usually the direct manager) is responsible for monitoring its progress. Additionally, it’s worth uploading the program table to a shared system, so as to allow all relevant parties to remain up-to-date and on the same page.
In order to facilitate a smooth transition into the position, frequent touchpoints are required between the new employee and his/her direct manager. As part of that discussion, the new employee will receive direct feedback. The purpose of this feedback is to direct the employee to the desired performance in their role as quickly as possible, while also aiming to strengthen their sense of ability. The feedback should be reciprocal, allowing the new employee to elaborate on their job entry process, while also receiving important external feedback on their progress.
Further insights into the steps involved in giving feedback can be found in the article 5 Simple Steps to Conducting Successful Annual Reviews.
A good way to learn before having actual experience, is to observe. It is therefore important, right from the outset, to motivate the employee to participate in meetings with clients, in staff sessions, or in important strategic activities associated with their role in the organization. Among other things, it may be advisable to provide the employee with a notebook in which to record important points, questions, and impressions. Once every few days, you can invite the employee to discuss the points they’ve jotted down – and attempt to provide the relevant answers, while seeking to learn from this “fresh” point of view about the organization, and perhaps finding potential points of improvement.
Milestones are designed to provide a sense of accomplishment in the onboarding process (for both the employee and the organization). To celebrate the culmination of the journey, you can invite the employee to present a product that summarizes their process. The employee should seek to incorporate the various topics included in their onboarding process. Examples for such products include: presenting a work plan for the first two months following the onboarding period; communicating the key aspects of the role to senior management; creating a sales presentation for an existing customer; and more.
To this end, it is advised to acknowledge these milestones, which serve to reflect the employee’s advancement along their onboarding “progress bar”. In doing so, you will provide your new recruit with a higher sense of self-efficacy by emphasizing their accomplishments and providing motivation and direction for further improvement.
Weaved throughout the onboarding process, “magical moments” are those in which the organization and its managers provide the employee with pleasant surprises. For example: a “reception ceremony”; a personal welcoming greeting from the boss, preparing and personalizing the employee’s work station, framing a good luck letter from their spouse, children or parent; placing a family photo their desk; and many more. Essentially, the magical moments are merely simple but powerful actions, whose value is that they exceed expectations. These moments are intended to instill confidence in the employee and make them feel that the organization and those within it think highly of them and actively share their drive for success.
A Buddy is actually a veteran employee, a team member, whose role is to serve as a mentor and to support the new hire in adjusting to his new position.
Among the responsibilities of the Buddy:
Providing answers to questions, introducing the offices, the colleagues, and key figures in the organization, sharing professional and organizational information, directing and learning specific tasks, providing feedback at eye level, mediating the organizational culture and company expectations etc.
In order to maximize his effectiveness, the buddy’s role and responsibilities should be identical to those of the new employee. Furthermore, the buddy should possess a positive, patient, and a cheerful personality – one that will enable him or her to build a pleasant personal relationship with those entering the position.
Questions to be asked pre-onboarding
- How are the company’s values incorporated in the process?
- What are the most important aspects of the role?
- Which topics and content are compulsory for the role, and which can be considered extra-curriculum?
- What flaws have been identified in the recruitment process and what can be done to reduce them during onboarding?
- What management tools or routines should be implemented from the get-go? Namely, what aspects of the organization are necessary for understanding the job that will allow the employee to feel and function as a component of the organizational “machine”?
- How should the reciprocal feedback process be conducted, both ways between the company and the new employee?
Entering into an organization, understanding the job and work routines, gaining confidence, and eventually taking the helm of the role – is undoubtedly an intricate process for any employee. Naturally, the length of this process depends on a number of factors that are not necessarily dependent on the organization, such as the employee’s capacity for learning or the degree of complexity involved in the job. That being said, it is important to have a structure for the onboarding process, stretching over several months, which allows the employee to enter the organization on the right foot and at the right pace, making them feel more at home. This way we can increase both the employee’s confidence and their desire to keep contributing to the organization’s success.