Top Tips for Successful Onboarding


By Chris Berry, managing director of Computers In Personnel.

The decision to stay in a new job is usually made within the first six months and research suggests that the main reason that new hires leave is a lack of cultural adaptation – they don’t feel the love!  Although some recruitment failures can’t be avoided, they should be limited where possible because their cost to the business can be dramatic.  In fact, most organisations agree that replacing an employee in the first year of their employment costs upwards of twice their annual salary.  And, that’s before many of the less obvious, sometimes more peripheral, costs are taken into consideration. 

What this means is that organisations of all shapes and sizes should be investing more prominently in Onboarding technology and processes, taking the issues much more seriously and making every new hire count.  Below is a list of Top Tips addressing the key issues:

1. Start the process of Onboarding from the moment the job role is accepted
There is little point in waiting for a new employee to arrive on day one of their employment before launching their induction programme.  In fact, much of the information that new starters need to digest can be delivered to them via the web well in advance of their first day.  That way, they are more able to contribute much earlier in their new role and their first experience of the organisation is not a lonely few days ploughing through reams of paper files, policy, procedures and information about products, services and people. 

2. Keep it honest
Exaggerating a role is pointless because the truth will out.  Keeping things honest during the recruitment process and continuing in that vein through the induction period will result in greater trust between new employees and their employer.  Dishonesty about the role and all that it entails is likely to end badly – often with the new hire leaving early with a less than positive image of the company and its brand values. 

3. Focus on values and interests as much as competencies and skills
All too often, the recruitment process focuses on competencies and skills which is important but is not the full story.  For greater recruitment success, more emphasis should be placed on the values and interests of individuals starting at a company.  The latter will help to ensure a good personal, cultural fit between an individual and the organisation.  This is important for the long-term sustainability of a person in a role.  After all, skills mean that a person is capable of doing a job; interest means that a person wants to do a job. 

4. Promote a strong sense of belonging from the start
It is no secret that people work better when they feel that they belong and fit into the overall culture of a company.  Making sure that new hires meet the right people and that they are made to feel welcome and useful from an early stage is vital.  Of course, not every CEO is available to meet every new employee on their first day and there are ways to address this too.  Video content from management can bridge the gap in availability and provide new hires with a good sense of the person and their role in the business.  This type of clip can be made even more personal by having departmental heads producing welcome clips for their new hires. 

5. Automate where possible
Much of the induction process can be delivered electronically which reduces administration and logistic costs considerably.  Organisations should look towards delivering as much content as possible over the web before a new hire’s first day.  That way much of the reading that usually takes place during the first week of a new job can be done and dusted before they set foot in the office.  It also allows individuals to learn about the company at their own pace and in their own environment which should result in more information being absorbed.  The highly charged and stressful first day on the job is not the time for intensive reading. 

6. Get creative with media
The old adage that a picture paints a thousand words still holds true.  Use of video content within the induction process is a great way to communicate difficult or complicated messages to new people.  Giving them access to clips developed specifically for introduction into their department is an excellent way to impress and inspire new starters. 

7. Make it an ongoing process
The process of Onboarding an employee can be ongoing throughout their career with an organisation.  At the very least, it needs to be structured, managed, co-ordinated, reviewed and assessed to make sure that it meets the needs of each individual every time.  In fact, the induction process should blend seamlessly into a learning and development programme for each individual to ensure that their education and training continues as required. 

Just remember, Onboarding is not a one size fits all process and it’s not a once in a “jobtime” activity.