Once you find the right candidate for a role, what is the most effective way of embedding them into your team? Make sure you have a comprehensive onboarding process in place.
How should you go about overhauling an onboarding process that causes confusion, wastes time or accelerates turnover?
Raminta Kymantas CPHR faced this challenge two years into becoming senior learning and development consultant at Colliers UK, an international real estate company.
Having held a variety of roles across a variety of countries, Kymantas has a strong understanding of the various ways a company can welcome a new employee. By the time she landed at Colliers UK, she was able to put that knowledge to use.
Colliers UK’s onboarding processes had room for improvement. So as the foundation of her AHRI Practicing Certification project, Kymantas decided to create some practical and impactful changes.
“Information for new starters was delivered at a range of times and there was not enough focus on engaging new starters in regard to how to get involved, build important relationships or understand the value of their role,” says Kymantas.
Furthermore, qualitative data gathered from monthly evaluations showed that new starters lacked knowledge about the brand, IT systems and finance processes.
One employee requested “more information about business growth and direction”, while another wanted “more explanation about the different teams”, as well information about “the opportunity to collaborate” with others.
The onboarding process had two noticeable areas for refinement. First, it needed to reduce the time it took new starters to reach full productivity. Also, it contributed to voluntary attrition rates in the first year of employment, which, in 2019, was higher than Colliers was comfortable with, so that needed fixing.
To kick start the project, Kymantas had to put herself in the employees’ shoes.
“In contrast with the previous series of scattered [onboarding] tasks, we developed an onboarding journey which builds new joiners’ understanding of the business as they need it, helping them to achieve productivity quickly.”
The journey comprises four stages.
Firstly, upon signing their contract, the employee watches a welcome video from Colliers’ UK CEO, which is displayed alongside a webpage containing details about the company – such as its mission, values, employee benefits and business expectations, plus more.
Secondly, on day one of employment, the new starter receives a host of essential information, including who’s who in HR; instructions for navigating the intranet; employee benefits; and tips for physical, mental and financial wellbeing at work.
In the third stage, which occurs throughout the probation period, further information is drip-fed to the new joiner, such as training on finance and IT systems. In the final stage, after one month in the role, a second induction provides more context on the business, including its workplace culture and tips for becoming collaborative with your team.
“Understanding the Colliers context really improves employee engagement rates. Our senior leaders present to the new joiners about what makes Colliers a great place to work, emphasising that it’s not what we do that matters, but how we do it”.
The success of Kymantas’s new onboarding journey bears out statistically.
Over six months in 2020, new starters reached an average 75 per cent productivity rate within three months of employment, in contrast with the five or six-month industry average. Voluntary attrition rates within the first year decreased by 50 per cent compared to the previous year.
Fifty-three per cent of new starters rated the quality of Colliers’ communication before they began their role as excellent (compared to 25 per cent before the transformation), 67 per cent agreed the onboarding process helped them understand their job (compared to 57 per cent) and 96 per cent rated their onboarding trainer 5/5, a 10 percentage point jump.
These successes didn’t mean that the transformation was entirely challenge-free.
“The project relied on many stakeholders. Plus, there were some minor unexpected changes, such as the adoption of a new digital email platform, which meant some stakeholders required extra management to ensure deliverables could be made on time.”
Also, the COVID-19 pandemic hit midway through the project, forcing the onboarding process to be conducted remotely.
“To overcome this, we added essential information on day one, such as tips for working remotely, as well as demonstrations of new IT systems, to ensure every new starter would be up to speed quickly.
“However, although this has helped to accelerate productivity, it hasn’t solved the problem of not being able to build relationships face-to-face, so there’s more to do in this area.”
Kymantas says that, for her own part, the project’s challenges and outcomes will hold her in good stead in the future.
“This project developed me as a HR professional. I’d always found it challenging to be an advocate for both the employee and the business at the same time. This helped me understand the importance of both sides.
“Gaining AHRI certification is an additional way for my employer to trust me as an expert to consult on future HR business problems that might arise.
“I have demonstrated that I can deliver a project from plan to implementation to evaluation, even during the most difficult time of a global pandemic when priorities are constantly changing.”
Quick tips to improve your onboarding experience
Raminta Kymantas CPHR shares some of her top tips, including:
- Consider what a new joiner needs at every point of the onboarding journey – including before starting, upon starting and after the probation period – and create touch points accordingly.
- Start with baseline data, by collating feedback from new starters and line managers regarding their experiences of the onboarding process. This will help generate ideas.
- Replace a task-based approach with a focus on the employee experience, remembering it begins the moment they sign their contract, not on the first day.
- Create an engaging welcome video, including a message from the CEO on what new joiners can expect on their first day and in the future.
- Provide an online community, such as a hub or website, which new starters can use to refer to important information or to network.
Want to up your onboarding game? Check out AHRI’s onboarding survey resource for some helpful resources.