Research finds that 1 in 4 employees will quit their job in the first 90 days of employment. For hourly workers, this number is even more alarming, suggesting that during the first 120 days, approximately 50% will leave their new jobs. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost of a new hire in the US is about $4,129, with a 42-day time-to-hire. These numbers suggest that most companies, especially small businesses, cannot afford to lose new hires.
There are a number of engagement tools companies can use to keep their employees interested and satisfied with their roles, while a good benefits package will steer them away from the competition. However, implementing a corporate onboarding process is one of the best ways to ensure a new employee is retained for longer.
What does employee onboarding mean?
Every organization may have its own definition for the employee onboarding process. However, in general, the timespan of onboarding new employees starts from the minute you extend an offer to the time the employee begins producing work. Every arrangement that needs to be done during that time falls under employee onboarding, and if it’s done poorly, the new hire may choose to quit.
For example, if you are hiring someone to work in an office, it’s expected that they’ll have a desk, a computer, a personal email account, etc. If they show up on the first day and have nowhere to sit, that makes the company look incompetent. Another example, more severe, relates to paperwork. If you fail to get all of your employee’s bank details and their first paycheck is delayed, they may choose to not show up again. This is where a good employee onboarding process can come in handy.
Additionally, it’s important that a new hire feels included — both in their role and within the company culture. A structured corporate onboarding process can ensure they go over every part of the new position and get to ask questions. It will also introduce them to different departments and team members, helping them to feel a part of the company faster, and encouraging them to remain in the role.
Building an effective employee onboarding process
There are a number of onboarding tools for new employees you can use to streamline, and automate the process. Some are designated specifically for onboarding, and some are a part of other systems. For instance, an all-inclusive HR management software can also support onboarding, and so can an Applicant Tracking Software. These will ensure nothing will be missed during the procedure, helping you avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
However, you can also build a checklist of items to follow with every new hire, which can serve the same purpose. This way of onboarding new employees is recommended for smaller companies which don’t handle a lot of new employees. The checklist will change according to the nature and needs of your company, but here are the main things you should keep in mind, in chronological order:
During the offer stage
You want to make sure that the candidate follows through, so it’s important to keep things personal and courteous. It’s best to extend the offer over a phone call, followed by a detailed letter. Once that is done, remember there’s room for negotiation, for the salary and benefits as well as the start date — as both sides should be happy.
A week or two before the start day
The candidate can still back out at this point, so it’s important to keep in touch with them instead of simply expecting them to show up on the first day. Some good ways to keep contact include sending a welcome email with instructions for the first day, asking colleagues to get in touch and congratulate them, as well as asking them to fill out an onboarding form.
You should also use this time to prepare everything for their arrival. This part really depends on your company but can include things like setting up a company email, a laptop, phone, key card, passwords, as well as making sure that all of the forms they’ll need to sign are ready for them (IRS, direct deposit, NDA and so on).
As mentioned, the first 90 days of the new hire are the most important — it’s when they decide whether to stay or leave. The more organized those days are, the higher the chances are the employee will stay. So a week before they start is also a good time to schedule introductory meetings and inductions and to think about good assignments to give them.
A day before and on the employee’s first day
To welcome them properly, make sure that everything they’ll need for that day is on their desk. In addition to electronic devices, this can include an employee handbook and some perks, like pens, a notepad, and a mug. Also, make sure that there’s someone to greet them and give them a tour.
As you don’t want to overwhelm them, the first day is a good time to get them acquainted with all of the procedures, like breaks, dress code, sick days and vacations, as well as talk about goals for the upcoming weeks. There should also be time set aside for signing paperwork and setting up equipment, while lunch is a good chance to get them socialized with the team.
During their first week
The employee onboarding should extend beyond the first day, to ensure they maintain a feeling of belonging. This starts by scheduling weekly one-on-one meetings to go over any questions. Continue by providing them with quick feedback about their initial tasks, to maintain their engagement. Make sure they get to meet departments which are outside of their job description as well, to make them feel a part of the whole company.
This should extend into the first three months, with regular check-ins, goals settings and meetings, to fully utilize the employee onboarding process and ensure retention.