You've got the job, now get onboard!
Imagine… you are a team leader and you are looking forward to your new hire starting. They are the perfect fit for the role and there’s plenty to be getting on with. They arrive, it’s a big welcome from the team, they settle at their desk, they get started. It’s now two months in and the project you assigned them has still not progressed. Now four months in, everyone is busy, but your now not-so-new hire appears to be going in circles.
Any of this feel familiar?
However qualified someone is for a new role, if they have not been exposed to your environment, your ways of working, your culture, your processes, some may be able to adapt rapidly, but many will not.
A few interesting facts:
The average onboarding time-to-performance is 6.2 months for new hires.
20% of new hires are likely to leave in their first 45 days
The cost of losing a new employee within the first 12 month is approximately 2 years of salary.
Companies with structured and standardized onboarding processes experience 54% higher productivity from their new employees and twice as high a level of engagement
The benefits of effectively onboarding new hires are clear: The new employee will have a positive first experience of the organisation (great for brand reputation), they integrate rapidly into the team, gain clarity on their role, understand values and culture, become engaged and rapidly become productive and thereby adding value.
But what is onboarding anyway? And why do so many organisations fall short?
A standard definition is that onboarding is the process by which new hires are emotionally, physically and professionally integrated into the established culture and operations of their new employer. Essentially, it is the process by why a new employee gets settled into a new organisation and starts contributing..
But should onboarding be applicable solely to new hires?
How about those that move from one part of an organisation to another?
A new parent returning after a year of parental leave?
Should the process vary depending on numbers, locations and culture of new starters?
What is the responsibility of the organisation? Of HR? Of the Team Leader? Of the new employee? Of others?
How can technology enable?
A few reflections from my varied experiences…
- My own induction (as it was called then) as a graduate engineer, alongside 70 others. A clear programme of activities to welcome, educate, engage, network and meet senior leaders was well received. Perhaps a little too much handholding for a group of young professionals entering the workforce eager to establish some level of independence.
- Same organisation, new job, different location. I met my new manager towards the end of my first day for the 5 minutes it took him to drop a 400-page manual on my desk. By the end of my second day, having still not seen him all day, I started drafting my resignation letter. Thankfully Day 3 went much better, as did the next 3 years I hasten to add. And yes, of course there’s a story there, but my learning was the huge impact first impressions have in terms of engaging, motivating and retaining. Had my new manager been absent on Day 3, I, and the organisation, could have missed out enormously.
- 7777 programme. A guidance covering expectations of the first 7 hours, the first 7 days, the first 7 weeks and the first 7 months of a new hire’s experience proved quite helpful to both team leaders and individuals I supported. The journey is readily enabled through digital platforms, placing accountability with the new employee to progress, but let’s not forget the face to face human contact.
- Leading the onboarding and initial training of 500 Algerians into a new operation in the Saharan desert. Lots of lessons here, but onboarding in cohorts prior to deployment to the sites and continuing after, establishing strong connections across the organisation and peer networks from the start was key.
- My own re-integration into the team after maternity leave. I was surprised by how much had changed in the 7 months I had been away. Although the team and offices remained, the dialogue, (and buzz words!) had moved on, priorities had changed, new influences had emerged. As a team leader, it taught me to be mindful of this ‘time-warp’ effect!
- A three-month programme for new starters into a global team. I was fascinated to observe the high level of interest from those well established in the organisation, albeit remote from the functional centre, on the usefulness of the content for themselves as well as any new hires!
- Coaching. I am increasingly witnessing how supporting individuals through corporate coaching, whether running in parallel to an organisation’s own onboarding process or in lieu of, is generating momentum towards more rapid integration and value delivery.
What are your nuggets on what makes for effective onboarding?