Onboarding is the process through which a new employee is introduced to the organization, to the team, and to their role within. Proper, effective onboarding sets the employees up for success and enables them to integrate seamlessly. A successful process also helps the company improve its retention rates, overall morale, and employee engagement on the long run.
Effective onboarding phases
On average, companies lose about 25 percent of their new employees within a year. No less than 32% of executives rate their onboarding experience as poor. That is extremely important to avoid! Because replacing an executive can cost over 200 percent of their salary. The costs of replacing an entry-level employee average at about 33 percent of their annual salary.
On the other hand, if they experience great onboarding, 69 percent of the new hires are likely to stay with the company for over 3 years.
Companies with effective onboarding programs experience up to 50 percent greater productivity among new hires. Furthermore, 54 percent of them report higher employee engagement.
With a well-structured onboarding system, you can avoid the costs and reputation damage that come with a high turnover. Implementing these 4 phases of effective onboarding should keep your retention rates high.
Phase 1: Pre-boarding
The pre-boarding process begins before the new employee starts doing actual work for your company, right after they sign the contract of employment. Taking care of details such as tax forms, banking details, NDAs, and other paperwork is the first step of pre-boarding.
During this phase, you should make sure that newcomers get all the information they need about the company culture, the procedures, and other relevant information you see fit.
The pre-boarding phase comes to an end on the first day on the job for your new hire.
Phase 2: Meet and greet
This second phase starts on the first day on the job and can last for a few days up to a week. It represents the period when new employees are introduced to the office environment. They get to meet the team and learn more about their own role in the organization.
If your company has a mentorship program, the newcomers will be introduced to their mentors. These will take over and guide them through phase 2, showing them the ropes. Ideally, every new employee will be given a tour of the company and be presented with formal and informal routines. Pointing them to the place where they can find the best coffee should not be overlooked 🙂
In the age of hybrid work, new employees should also be introduced to the software tools they will be needing. It is also the moment to give them access to your team communication app.
If they will be working from home, this is when they are given the hardware they will use for their work. And especially for such remote workers, here’s how to overcome the main challenges in remote onboarding.
Phase 2 doesn’t really have a set-in-stone ending. It can, and often does, overlap the next phase.
Phase 3: Training and discovery
We’re now in the third phase of the effective onboarding process. During this phase, the new hire should receive help to learn the specifics of their new job and their responsibilities within the company. Most companies use a mentorship or buddy system, but some offer more formal training led by a professional trainer.
With the buddy system, the new employee receives guidance from one of their peers, who had worked with the company for a while. The newcomer is encouraged to approach their mentor whenever they have questions or any other issues. The buddy system doesn’t have an expiration date and can go on for as long as it is needed.
However, if the company offers formal training, that is usually led by a professional trainer. Depending on the difficulty of the job, the training can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. During this period, the new hire acquires most of the theoretical knowledge they will need for their job. Once the training period is over, a mentor or a buddy could still be assigned to help guide the newbie further on.
This third phase is extremely important as it sets the tone for the future performance of your new employee. Make sure they receive a lot of attention and encouragement, offer constructive feedback, and address any concerns they might have.
Phase 4: Ongoing development and retention
This last phase is when new employees take charge of their projects and start performing on their own. By now, they should know their role within the team and work together with their teammates. They are confident enough to make decisions autonomously and fully engage with their tasks.
As a leader, your role during the development and retention phase of employee onboarding is to check in regularly and make sure they receive assistance when needed. Set smart goals and review their performance to acknowledge their efforts and help them improve.
During this phase, feedback should come from both sides. Ask for your employee’s assessment of your onboarding process.
By the end of this final phase, a long-term plan should be made. Employees should be aware of how they can contribute to help your organization reach its goals, while also achieving personal growth and success.
Effective and efficient
Employee retention is the highest in companies that provide high-quality onboarding and commit to the development of their employees.
At some point, the newest employee stops being seen as the new one. Then, the onboarding process can be considered finalized. However, your support for the employees should never cease.