If you’ve just spent thousands of dollars and several months finding and wooing your next rock-star recruit, you may assume your work is done once the offer letter is signed. Think again. Up to 20 percent of new hires leave their position for another opportunity within the first 45 days on the job, according to the Human Capital Institute. That’s because many businesses don’t fulfill the expectations they set when recruiting new hires and instead leave them to figure out everything for themselves without taking time to create an engaging employee onboarding process.

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into your organization by helping them feel welcomed and acclimated. Unlike orientationa one-time event to welcome hires that typically lasts a dayonboarding is a series of events, including orientation, that helps employees understand how to succeed in their role in your company and how their work contributes to the success of your business overall.

If you’re short-staffed or your HR budget is tight, you may not feel like you have the time or resources to spend more than a few days bringing new employees up to speed. But skimping on employee onboarding can end up costing you even more in lost productivity, low morale and turnover.

What Employers Miss About Employee Onboarding

Many employers underestimate the importance of onboarding. More than a third (36 percent) do not have a structured onboarding process, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Yet organizations that do invest in onboarding improve retention of new hires by 82 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent, reports a study sponsored by GlassDoor. 

Establishing a formal program that provides consistent onboarding for all new hires is one of the biggest challenges for companies, says Michelle Thompson, vice president of human resources for XMI.

“Many employers are unprepared and disorganized when new hires show up, so employees don’t feel welcome or engaged immediately,” she says.

Turnover is particularly high in companies that are so desperate to fill positions that they shuffle new hires off to whatever corner they can find or never get around to providing them with the training necessary to do their jobs.

“For many companies, onboarding is not a focus,” Thompson says. “They may think what they have is effective, not realizing that it’s not. Even if you put someone through training but don’t do the rest of the pieces, you can still lose that hire and those training dollars.”

Just 12 percent of employees credited their organization with doing a great job of onboarding new hires, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report. Lackluster onboarding may be one reason why more employers are being ghosted by workers who simply stop showing up at the office or quit without notice.

Making the Employee Onboarding Process More Meaningful 

In today’s hot labor market, employees have more choices about where they want to work and aren’t as willing to stick around where they don’t feel valued. A strong employee onboarding process can help you engage new hires right away and ramp them up faster so they can be productive sooner. Give employees a more meaningful onboarding experience with these best practices:

Practice preboarding. Share their start date and contact info with the rest of your team so they can congratulate and welcome them. Send paperwork such as legal forms, the employee handbook and other materials in advance so they can review and complete early. Schedule training sessions and meet-and-greets with managers, coworkers and departments in advance. Set up their desk and computer with everything they need, along with a welcome banner, business cards, company swag and a first-day agenda.

Roll out the red carpet. Welcome new hires as soon as they arrive, introduce them to everyone and show them around the office. Take them out to lunch with team members and meet one-on-one to discuss their schedule for the first week, upcoming assignments and expectations for their new role. Give them downtime to get situated, log into accounts and absorb everything. Plan an orientation within the first few days that covers company basics, from your mission and values to your benefit plans and policies and procedures.

Show them the ropes. Get employees started on tasks, help them set goals and provide them with feedback from the first week on. Check in regularly and encourage them to ask questions and share concerns. Include them in meetings and projects so they can learn more about your culture and business objectives. Walk them through the company’s unspoken rules, such as who prefers email to phone calls or how to get approval from or make suggestions to the brass. Continue providing guidance over the next 90 days to ensure they feel fully connected and invested.

Pairing new hires with seasoned employees who can mentor them over the first few weeks can make employee onboarding even more productive, especially in service-oriented industries, says Misti Ringham, HR business partner for XMI.

“Putting them with someone they can job shadow allows them to get fully trained and comfortable before you put them out there on their own,” she says.

Lacking the time or manpower to properly onboard employees? Working with an outsourced HR partner like XMI can provide you with the expertise and resources to develop a program suited to your company.

For more information, call 615-248-9255 or email info@xmigrowth.com.

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