Starting a New Job

What Is an Onboarding Process for New Employees?

June 23, 2021

Building an effective team requires more than finding the finest applicants for vacant positions in your organisation. Onboarding new employees can be one of the most important components in ensuring that newly hired staff is productive and contented. Understanding and implementing an effective onboarding system can help your organisation retain its employees. In this article, we outline what onboarding is, its significance and the process that it entails.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a human resource (HR) term which refers to the process of seamlessly integrating a new employee into a company's culture by providing them the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. Also known as organisational socialisation, onboarding is a strategic process that assists new employees to fully understand their position and role within the organisation.

The onboarding process includes a range of activities, commencing from the job offer to team training. Typically, an onboarding process can last between a few weeks up to a year, but the most effective onboarding normally lasts at least a couple of months. Ultimately, the goal of a successful onboarding process is to ensure that new employees feel welcome, confident and competent.

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Why is onboarding important?

Employees are the heart of the organisation. You want to ensure that employees have a positive impression and work experience from their first job interview up until their exit interview. An effective onboarding process is key in showcasing that you value your employees from the beginning, making them feel welcome and giving them a sense of belonging in the organisation.

Additionally, HR and staffing experts emphasise conducting an onboarding process effectively, as how employers facilitate the new employee's initial time in the organisation plays a key role in high retention rates of employees. Here are the additional advantages of onboarding:

Increased productivity

When done appropriately, employee onboarding can significantly enhance employees' productivity. A people-oriented culture results in happier employees, better knowledge of their roles and increased commitment to their work. Additionally, you can have your managers plan out the schedule for the new employee's first few weeks to answer questions such as "Who do they talk and report to?", "What tips do you wish you knew when you first started?" and "Where is the best place to get lunch?"

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Clearly defined roles

Job training is a big aspect of employee onboarding. By describing what the company expects of the new employee, the onboarding process brings the job description to life. The end purpose of the onboarding process is the new employee comprehending how their function fits into the team and the organisation overall. Ultimately, the onboarding process can make new employees feel like they are a valuable and meaningful part of the organisation, which can, in turn, motivate them to stay on the job and give their best in their work.

Better employee morale

New hires can feel the stress and pressure of starting a new job. They can have many concerns and considerations, including whether they can fit in, how to handle their tasks and what are the predetermined social norms. Employers can assist new employees to feel less anxious and stressed by extending a warm welcome and giving them all the necessary information to succeed. Employee onboarding can assist new employees in forming a good relationship with existing team members. Early development of healthy team relationships can aid the formation of robust teams in the long term.

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Higher employee retention

Continuously replacing employees can be costly, considering the expenses going into finding and evaluating potential hires, training and mentoring them and other remuneration involved in the HR process. Having a low employee turnover is a win-win solution for both employers and employees - employees can benefit from job security and employers can minimise unnecessary costs.

However, employees can have trouble staying in a job they are unhappy with. This is where the onboarding process comes in. Onboarding provides employers the opportunity to help new employees become engaged and committed to the organisation, contributing to the organisational success.

What is the onboarding process for new employees?

A general consensus from HR professionals stipulates that onboarding begins the moment a candidate accepts a job offer and concludes when the new hire is fully integrated and performs up to the predetermined standard. Providing new hires with a thorough, comprehensive and consistent introduction to their new organisation is hence a sensible investment. Listed below are the most common onboarding elements:

1. Welcome the new employees

The onboarding process is to commence as soon as the company hires the employee, which is prior to their first day of work. Successful onboarding programmes acknowledge the importance of having existing people from the organisation reaching out to the new hire via phone call or email. Granting the recruit access to the organisation's employee page can assist them in gaining insight and, as a result, enabling them to come to work with a basic understanding of the facets of their new job.

You can get a step ahead by setting an online onboarding portal to answer possible queries such as where to go on the first day, who to report to upon arrival and what the dress code is like. Furthermore, the portal can serve as a platform to set up the new employee's username, email and password logins.

2. Introduce the company and the policies

A comprehensive overview of the company and particular department can follow next. This stage gives an overview of the organisation's vision and mission, as well as the specific department's values, cultures, key actors and the new hire's role in the company. The first day is usually the determinant of how the new hire pictures themselves in the organisation. Keeping that in mind, it's best that employers make it as personal as possible. Policies and procedures relating to the organisation, as well as to the employee specifically, also has to be communicated.

Sharing critical information like remuneration plans, affirmative action and conflict resolution processes with new recruits is a smart way to ensure that they are aware of their rights and understand the company respects their rights. You can do this through the provision of a company handbook or orientation. Remember to also include any administrative matters that you may not have addressed initially. Examples include details like communication procedures to deal with stuff like inclement weather, overtime pay structure, vital contact numbers and crucial information sources and handling.

3. Help them build a relationship with other employees

Making new employees feel welcome at work accomplishes several goals. It assists them in understanding how work is done at the company. It also raises awareness of the important tenets and aspects of the corporate culture. As a result, new employees are better equipped to seamlessly integrate with their coworkers and feel like a member of the team sooner. The transition will be more seamless, and the new hire will have a better sense of belonging.

The combination of a strong emphasis on expectations during the onboarding process and proper job training will instil confidence and competence in new employees. It reduces the possibility of misunderstandings that can cause dissatisfaction and resentment, the main underlying factors causing early retirement.

4. Assign a mentor

To allow new hires to get a better sense of the work dynamics, you can consider scheduling a shadowing session with an existing team member. This can help the new employee to learn from those who are already doing the job and to form relationships with their coworkers. Apart from gaining technical knowledge and hard skills, this opportunity can give new hires insider tips to navigate the workplace and some unofficial advice to assimilate into the company culture. To ensure its efficacy, you can assign mentors on the first day of work.

Mentoring is a method to acclimate new employees to the company's culture and expectations. The mentor can set out realistic expectations for the new hire's job obligations. Besides the company policies, they can also assist new employees in learning the unspoken rules and expectations in the workplace. Knowledge of implicit norms such as traditions, employee jokes and other casual insider information are essential in helping a new hire gain a sense of belonging. Mentors can also assist their mentees regarding where and how to obtain resources such as learning materials or employee contact information.

Duration of onboarding period

HR experts generally agree that the onboarding process should last at least three months. Curating a more comprehensive onboarding program that lasts longer can help new hires feel more at ease at work, adapt to the company culture, develop better relationships with their colleagues, be more productive and perform more efficiently.

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