Employee experience: Seven dos and don’ts of effective onboarding

Employers risk losing staff if they can't provide the correct support and resources when they join

A recent survey found that more than a third of companies do not have a robust induction policy for new starters, and many were losing new recruits before their first day on the job. Melanie Guy, head of HR for software company webexpenses and webonboarding, outlines seven ways employers can ensure they don’t suffer the same fate. 

A survey carried out by cloud software company webonboarding recently showed that more than a third (38%) of companies around the world lack an induction policy or guidelines for new starters.

As a result, businesses are providing a less than premium onboarding experience for new employees who turn up to work to find no computer, no desk, no phone and the distinct feeling that they’ve joined an unprofessional organisation.

So what should organisations consider when building their onboarding offer? We take a look at the dos and don’ts of a robust onboarding process.

Don’t neglect onboarding’s importance

Failing to follow up successful recruitment with an efficient and engaging onboarding process can mean losing the best and brightest talent before they can add value to your business.

Our survey revealed that in the UK, over a fifth (22%) of employees had accepted a job and then changed their mind due to problems they encountered during the onboarding process.

At best it’s disappointing, at worst it’s very expensive, for businesses who have spent weeks assessing and interviewing candidates, only to have the perfect person turn them down or fail to start work.

Do review onboarding plans and processes

Encourage existing and new staff to give open and honest feedback about their initial experience and impressions of joining your organisation.

Find out what problems they encountered, who they dealt with and how their experience made them feel. You could do this through a staff survey.

Of the UK employees polled in the survey, 32% said early or first day problems left them
feeling unwelcome.

Globally, almost four in 10 (38%) said that early or first day problems through the onboarding process left them feeling like they had joined an unprofessional company.

Knowing what hasn’t gone so well in your onboarding process offers a great opportunity to improve the experience for your next new hires.

Don’t wait until day one

Between a candidate being offered a role and them starting work for you, there are lots of factors that can mean they fail to become an engaged member of your workforce.

No one wants to be kept hanging around waiting for offer details and contracts, so ensure these are issued quickly and accurately. New employees can be tempted away by counter offers before they start.

Often there’s a gap between recruitment and employment, when onboardees may have little contact with your organisation.

Bridging that gap with regular communications shows that you’re already thinking of them as an employee before they arrive. This is especially important when dealing with individuals who have longer notice periods.

Engagement with the business needs to happen immediately. Not later down the line when it’s harder to gain positive engagement.

One of the things we’ve done as a company is to invite new hires with a longer notice period to social events, so that they get to meet their future colleagues in an informal setting.

Do ensure workers have everything they need on the first day

We’ve all seen those pictures of desks laden with branded goods and technology ready to welcome new starters to. But creating a welcome experience like that takes planning, organisation and someone taking responsibility.

One reason why onboarding can be poorly managed is that responsibilities are often shared between recruitment, HR departments and the hiring manager, but no one is really clear about their role and remit.

Create a checklist of what needs to be in place ready for your new hire starting and communicate with all the relevant people or departments.

While not all roles require IT set up, there are other factors to consider to ensure a smooth start.

Do new employees need a uniform, or safety equipment? Do you need to make sure your new starter can access buildings and offices on their first day? Do they need to be added to internal phone or email systems?

Whoever needs to be involved, make sure communications and roles are clearly understood.

Don’t presume it’s only up to the new employee to impress

Onboarding is a time when employees are forming their first impressions of your business and deciding whether or not they will commit to sticking around and offer a return on your investment in recruiting them.

Employees who are unhappy, or unsettled within their new role will quickly start to look to move on. Word soon gets around about companies who fail to live up to expectations, so a poor onboarding process could mean you encounter problems in hiring new staff in future.

When you consider the cost every time your business has to advertise, recruit and hire a new employee, making sure that you turn every offer into a productive and loyal employee offers a huge cost saving potential.

Do make use of technology to help manage onboarding

Making use of technology can help your business manage the onboarding process more efficiently and effectively.

For example, using standard templates for offer letters and contracts can save your HR team time while ensuring that you get new employees onboard quickly and at scale.

By tracking all the tasks involved and ensuring no communications are missed along the way, technology can also help your business deliver an effective onboarding experience.

Do reap the benefits of a robust onboarding process

Businesses that focus on onboarding and offer a positive experience to new employees can really differentiate themselves from the competition.

Making sure that you transform high quality recruits into productive employees is a positive approach to business success.


About Melanie Guy

Melanie Guy is head of HR for cloud software company webonboarding

One Response to Employee experience: Seven dos and don’ts of effective onboarding

  1. Avatar
    Mark 6 Oct 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Excellent article, I applaud your courage in facing this difficult topic. It must be hard for companies to admit when this happens. An example…

    — Recently applied online at a company which advertised positions as if they were their own, but turns out they were actually a temp agency / recruiter. I discovered this during the final interview. Asked them for the name of the company where I would actually be employed, but they would not disclose until hiring was complete. this was to avoid losing their finder’s fee. I verified that I would actually be the client company’s employee, not the temp agency, which they confirmed, but then the agency asked for all my personally identifiable information (PII) even though I would not be working for them. When I questioned this, was met with, shall we say, “professional hostility.” By this time my trust level in the agency was so damaged, I walked away.

    Moral of the story is that too much private information is being requested before the applicant learns if she or he wants the job, or is seriously being considered. The hiring process is being done backwards, In this day and age, we can’t leave our identity info all over the place. HR used to hire first, and fill out forms later, and should return to that wise practice.

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