Onboarding as a priority on your talent agenda
Why you need a future-proof approach to the new-hire journey
An effective onboarding journey has the ability to radically improve employee engagement and ensure that you retain the right talent. But the methods and tools you should use to create the right journey are evolving. So what counts towards fully leveraging those first days, and where should you start?
Sophia Savvides & Sarah Rogers - 12 April 2017
Hitting the ground running
We’ve all heard the phrase, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Never is that more relevant than during the attraction, recruitment and hire of new employees. Research by Bersin (2014) supports that around 1 out of 4 new hires take a decision to stay or leave an organisation during the first 45 days in their new role. With this in mind, you would expect that crafting the right employee experience within this period right would be high on the agenda of any CHRO.
However, if you were to ask most new hires about their experience of the “traditional” onboarding process, they would most probably describe it as highly administrative and unengaging due to its focus on compliance, policies and the repetitive filling out of numerous forms. They might even point out the sharp contrast in relation to the attractive and inspiring recruitment process that they received as applicants until point at which they are hired. Organisations that settle for this traditional approach are missing out on a huge opportunity to maximise employee satisfaction and retain talent through leveraging onboarding as a strategic initiative.
A truly effective onboarding process should, at the very least, support employees by:
- Allowing them to establish connections through relationships with peers and colleagues across the organisation;
- Clarifies expectations of their role and allowing them to set objectives, facilitating the likelihood of good performance; and
- Socialises them with the organisations culture, norms and values.
Equally, creating true ‘moments that matter’ through an inspiring onboarding journey is becoming increasingly important, with the growing presence of digital – with mobile, interactive technology and social platforms- and the growing expectation of employees to feel personally connected. The Deloitte Future of Work report emphasises that the workforce of the future want to feel a real connection with their employer and its values and highly engaged with colleagues across the organisation. As these elements become crucial for employee integration, having a journey that inspires is becoming a necessity. The questions you need to consider are how you can best incorporate these elements, and how committed is your organisation to creating the right journey that will bring in your leaders of tomorrow?
According to research by Bersin (2014), most organisations are not there yet, as around 79% of business leaders still perceive the onboarding process as purely functional with very little business or strategic impact. On the contrary, efforts leading up to onboarding such as sourcing and recruitment are considered as vital for setting the “tone” of the employee-employer relationship, and therefore benefit from more time and attention. Deloitte recognizes the strategic impact of effective onboarding, and has recently developed an onboarding app to facilitate an impactful experience for new hires. The app provides a platform to augment the process across pre-induction, induction and post-induction phases, including personalized and intuitive features that specifically facilitate your journey through the first day, week and 100 day period. Key touchpoints to create connections are leveraged through networking and communication opportunities within the app, supporting the integration of new hires into the new workplace and culture.
Where should you start?
The challenging part for organisations and HR leaders in particular is cultivating the right connection in such a short space of time. In order to do this, you really need to shift the transformational thinking away from process optimisation and towards experience optimisation. Think along the lines of Digital Experiences, Design Thinking and Customer Journeys, were the creativity is driven through touch-points and personalisation through personas.
Here are some considerations for transforming your approach to onboarding:
- Understand your target workforce; identify personas
In order to understand your key employee groups and their needs and expectations from the onboarding process, you should identify personas, similar to mapping a customer journey. Once you have these groups, you can further analyse what they need and expect from the onboarding process in order to land successfully into the organisation. For example, you could consider segmentation based on level, demographics or expat employees vs. local employees. Involve your current employees and use their insights from experience to guide you.
- Get Digital
Say goodbye to back and forth email chains across departments and attachments getting lost in your inbox. It’s hard to escape the administrative activities that are a necessary part of onboarding, but if an employee can interact with them through a single platform such as an app or through a digital HR system then it can be transformed into a positive experience. Many of the cloud HR SaaS systems offer the ability to build in an onboarding checklist that the employee can access and contribute to alongside your HR team. This way, it becomes a collaborative, time-effective and easily trackable exercise. Furthermore, a personalised onboarding app for your organisation can improve assimilation into your organisation, alignment with strategy and values and even develop cross-functional connections. Learn more about Deloitte’s onboarding app, here.
- Redesign supporting processes end-to-end
A series of fragmented processes along recruitment, hire and onboarding is far less effective than a single journey. A series of streamlined steps can increase time-efficiency, especially around the administrative steps, freeing up the time of the stakeholders for more important conversations around culture and personal development. Consider slimming down and re-defining onboarding activities into a single, engaging process and delivering through a single platform to strengthen the employee experience and save time for managers and HR.
- Go beyond the first day
Onboarding is not about giving your new recruit a laptop, mobile phone and a desk when they first arrive. It’s an interactive process that can last up to 100 days after a new recruit first engages with your organisation, or 6-12 months after they join the organisation. Defining the length and milestones within this period, and how this can best be leveraged to optimise engagement is a strategic decision that your organisation needs to take. This includes pre-commencement activities including engaging and personal communications, a (digital) welcome pack etc. Activities for strengthening employee engagement, socialisation and development of personal connections throughout this period need to be facilitated by the different activities and steps within your journey.
- Create Moments that Matter
Along the journey of your new recruit, there will be moments that matter. These are key points in time that can make or break their experience, and thus can be leveraged to optimise the journey and cultivate engagement. They are likely to differ across your different target employee groups- but some will overlap- and you need to identify them all. For example, the first working day is a significant moment where the employee might have certain expectations and fears, and so the journey should leverage this point as a key opportunity to create experience and impression that you desire.
So, now what ?
Whilst onboarding has historically been “hygiene” for organisations, it is now a key differentiator in terms of retention, employee engagement, productivity and employee experience. The continued development of what employees expect in order to feel fully engaged, plus the increasing pace at which we operate within organisations calls for a well-considered, effective and engaging onboarding journey. To remain competitive, now is the time to consider how a tailored onboarding journey can improve your business outcomes.