Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.
Thus states the official definition developed by HR gurus, and published by Wikipedia. Most people think of onboarding as a one day or one week event, that commences with the new hire’s first day on the job. But step back a moment, and note that there is great cost to bringing on a new employee, and you have to get it right. So attracting the right hire is actually step one. And that begins with your company’s image, brand, and promise to clients.
So what do employees want? A new survey of more than 600 employees, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found 72% of employees rank “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” to be the most important factor in job satisfaction.
The other factors in the top 5 are trust between employees and senior management (64%); benefits (63%), compensation/pay (61%); and job security (59%). As for the actual work itself? It ranked No. 11.
Knowing that your company culture and respectful treatment from management are top priorities, we can begin. Fact: 46% of people will fail within the first 18 months of a new job mainly because of poor culture fit. Before you let that little voice in the back of your head argue that you don’t want to coddle employees or treat them with kid gloves, remember this: When you give good treatment, you are actually keeping your costs down.
Why? Pay Attention: Thirty case studies taken from the 11 most-relevant research papers on the costs of employee turnover demonstrate that it costs businesses 100% – 300% of a worker’s salary to replace that worker. For businesses that experience high levels of turnover, this can add up to represent significant costs! If, heaven forbid, you have five turnovers in one year, you just cost your business one entire team’s salaries for the year!
Now that we have your attention, let’s talk onboarding. Fact: New employees are 69% more likely to stay more than three years if they’ve experienced a well-structured onboarding program.
You have a workstation set up, a business card order form with title checked off, a pile of HR paperwork to be completed, and a tour of your shop and parking lot instructions. You’re ready for your new hire’s first day, right? Um, not so fast.
That list of prep items is actually going to cover about an hour and a half. So then what? Assign the New Employee Handbook as required reading for the rest of the day? Lame. At least that is what your new hire may be thinking! If you plan on maximizing the beneficial outcomes for your company as well as for this eager beaver you will see every day, you need to think in terms of a month of orientation. Yes, that is what our own schedule for new sign business owners presents, in a clearly laid out calendar covering four weeks of OTJ training.
Here are some examples for the first day:
- Workstation prepared, phone, file drawer, clean chair, bulletin board and trash bin
- Welcome gift – a great mug, a tape measure/ note pad / all in one, a welcome to the team signed by everyone else.
- Scheduled meeting with all employees, to break the ice
- Employment paperwork completed, position description reiterated, paydays, the week ahead
- Tour of each piece of the business, how it fits together
- Informal lunch with manager or bring in pizza for everyone and hold the informal meet and greet then.
- Some downtime that first day
- End of day Q&A, check in with the new hire for lingering questions, etc.
A simple plan of action for the weeks ahead will help you avoid assigning “busy work” to the new team member. We’ve all been there: Knowing that the newbie is not ready to “go it alone” we assign a safe task that will eat up some time until we can get to the next piece of training.
Many companies have a 90-day introductory period during which new employees are under assessment for their fit with the company, and their job performance. Though you likely intend to provide the feedback at the end of the 90-day period, it is wise to give 30-day and 60-day evaluations along the way. In addition, informal feedback daily is extremely important.
One of our new business owners – a first-time entrepreneur – explained the impact a new hire has on the existing team. He noted that it is not a new member of an existing team, but rather a new team that is created. Brand new. If you think of it this way, you can recognize the signs of the team being formed over that 90-day period, and you can help to guide its development.
Those reactions ranged from nervous, to insecure, to downright ill.
At the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, the founders of Baudville spoke with many attendees about what it feels like to be a newbie. Those reactions ranged from nervous, to insecure, to downright ill. According to the stats, by the time your new employee has made it to the six-month mark, they have likely determined if they will stay long-term or not. So what you do beyond the 90-day mark matters.
Here’s the kicker: Retention rates for employees who are mentored are 72% higher than for those who are not mentored.
Hopefully this has given you a fresh perspective on the great onboarding process, and how this system can become a true representation of a great company culture. Spend a couple of days focusing your energy on developing a good strategy for new hires, and gain returns from this effort for years to come.
We thank Sign Biz Members who contributed their experiences, and photo credits to Mustang Signs and SIGNWorks of Montery. We credit Roberta Chinsky Matuson for her insights published in Recognation. Roberta is known globally as The Talent Maximizer, and is the President of Matuson Consulting. www.matusonconsulting.com