According to a recent article by Human Resource Executive Online, only 48% of companies offer onboarding for new employees. That means that most companies simply play it by ear when a new team member joins.
Some small groups may bring on employees just once a year or so and may not feel the need for a formal program. Other growing companies may be bringing people in so fast they don’t have time to create one. And yet others may think it would be grand to have a structured process when the new hire arrives, but don’t prioritize it over other goals.
Ignore onboarding at your own risk.
Regardless of the reason, these companies could be costing themselves a bundle. Research by Equifax Workforce Solutions found that 41.5% of people who leave a company do so in the first 6 months. And a further 15.8% leave in the next six months. And according to a Fast Company interview with Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS, manufacturer of talent acquisition software, companies with formal onboarding programs retain 91% of new hires overall, compared with 50% for companies with no onboarding.
Considering the cost of recruiting new employees, handling the paperwork, taxes and benefits, and giving training, if they leave in the first few months, you never get any value from them. And you still have a vacant job to fill.
So what can you do? First, start working on a formal program, but if you have people showing up in the next few weeks and time’s running out, do these three things. They’ll cover the essential functions of a formal program and help you reap the benefits of onboarding right away.
Take the Time to Prepare.
There’s nothing more demoralizing for a new employee than to show up and catch people off-guard. When your new boss says with a look of surprise, “Oh, yes, I guess we need to get you set up,” you do not feel like a valued part of the team.
So when a recruit accepts your offer letter, make some preparations right away. Have a clean, well-stocked desk ready. Get as much of the IT setup ready to go as you can, and have the paperwork collected so it’s easy to review.
You don’t have to have everything perfectly arranged, but show that you’ve made some effort. That’s the first step in building a strong relationship and company loyalty.
Plan for an adjustment period.
Regardless of how much experience your new hire has, he or she will need time to adjust to your work processes and culture. In an interview for the Society for Human Resources Management, Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg, reported that even superstars don’t automatically over-achieve when they move to a new company. “Many of them underperform because what makes them successful are the companies that they used to work for.”
No matter how well-suited your new person is for the job, sit down and explain your expectations. Discuss the company’s values, traditions, and work ethics. Even the little things matter. I once worked for a company where we routinely started meeting 15 minutes late. When I moved to a company where meetings started 5 minutes early, I had a nasty shock.
Also, keep talking about expectations for the first couple of months. You won’t be able to cover everything in the first week. Plan to talk at least once a week for the first month and then once a month for the next 5 months.
Assign a mentor.
Mentors can answer questions, help explain work processes and culture, and even clue new folks in to the best parking spots. They’re incredibly valuable for keeping good folks at the company. A 2014 study reported in Professional Development Magazine, found that 92% of new hires who had mentors thought their first sixth months on the job had a positive impact on their decision to stay long term, compared to 57% for those who did not have mentors.
Before the new hire arrives, ask an experienced colleague to be a mentor, then set up regular meetings. Ask them to meet once a day for the first week, then once a week for the next 60 days. The mentor should be available for ad hoc questions as well if possible.
If you do nothing more than prepare for your new hire’s first day, set expectations during the adjustment period, and set him or her up with a mentor, you’ll reap much of the benefit that onboarding offers. But there are a few other easy ways to enhance the process further:
- Set up lunch meetings with different key personnel for the first week.
- After a couple weeks, ask your new employee how the onboarding process is going, and use that information to make improvements going forward.
- Identify some professional development goals with your new hire, including short term job tasks and targets for long-term growth.
- Invite your new employee to meetings in other departments to make introductions and provide insight into what other groups are doing.
- Make your new employee feel welcome with a company mug, snacks, or a bottle of water on the first day.
Onboarding is both more important and easier than most people think. With these initial steps, you’ll help new folks become valuable and loyal members of your team while setting the foundation for a more formal process as your group grows.
At Pract.us, we’re dedicated to helping you get your employees off to a great start! Contact us today to learn more about our Onboarding special package.