Onboarding has become increasingly strategic – with senior leaders playing a far more central role – according to research from the Top Employers Institute.
In its Onboarding HR Insights Report, the institute found that 77% of executive managers ensure they meet with new recruits. This proportion has increased by 15% since last year. Ninety-three percent of managers actively promote the importance of onboarding.
Digital communications such as internal social media have also increased in use, with 77% of companies surveyed by the Top Employers Institute using internal social media to chat with employees, and 66% sharing experiences over social media – this was up by 20%.
Almost a quarter of employers now provide access to a virtual onboarding platform before new recruits even start work, the institute found.
Organisations are also increasing measurement of the success in onboarding, with increases shown in practices such as measuring first impressions (68% do this), reporting on key performance indicators such as attendance or job satisfaction (69% do this) and evaluation by HR or managers (86% and 52% respectively).
Just over one-third used technology to support this, with 34% tracking onboarding progress through an online system.
Further trends uncovered in the research show that onboarding has become less of a one-off process and more of an event, sometimes lasting as long as a year and long after an employee’s actual start date.
Its scope has also become broader, focusing not just on HR policies and procedures but on building internal connections for the new starter. Two-thirds allocate a buddy to the new hire, and 55% either have a meeting with the CEO or a member of the executive management team.
Onboarding is increasingly multi-dimensional, covering different aspects of the workplace such as individual business needs or cultural considerations. Some companies use gamification techniques to familiarise an employee with products, services and policies, the institute found.
“During the last two decades, we’ve watched onboarding mature from its original short-term orientation, to a fully-fledged longer-term programme that genuinely supports the success of a new employee,” said Eleanor Nickerson, director of UK operations for Top Employers Institute.
“With increasing statistics in the marketplace to prove the effectiveness of good onboarding – or more importantly, the risks of poor onboarding – this is now a top-of-the-agenda item for organisations, and one that executives will roll their sleeves up and get involved with.”