Just a few years ago, onboarding was a relatively new concept for HR. Since then, many studies and articles have been written on the benefits of a good onboarding program.
One of the biggest benefits to onboarding is how quick it helps you engage an employee – not to mention the speed at which they become productive in their new role and within their new organisation’s culture.
However, current practices don’t always facilitate this. After the job offer, we often leave the recruit with very little communication until they show up for work on their first day. As Brett Foulis from Enboarder.com says, “New employees are often treated as a commodity, not a person.”
Research papers, such as this MIT Sloan Management Review article on reinventing employee onboarding, make observations that employee engagement is strongly linked to the first 120 days with an organisation. One of the main drivers of making this a successful time is the relationship with the new employee’s direct manager, coupled with the onboarding experience they receive.
There are now several customisable, cheap software solutions on the market (classed as ‘best-of-breed’), capable of full integration with your existing HRIS, payroll or applicant tracking system (ATS). Such technology allows companies to offer the cornerstones of what is today seen as good onboarding.
What does onboarding best practice look like?
- Automation and experience: Electronic job offers and a portal that walks employees through the onboarding process, plus FAQs about your company and culture.
- Welcome packs: This includes all the forms and information they need to know or complete before day one. If they complete these online, it’s even easier to extract data for your HRIS.
- Reminders: Let hiring managers know to get in touch or get ready before day one. You can also schedule regular performance chats between the employee and their manager for their probation period, or beyond.
- Notifications: Let other departments know if they need to order desks, phones, computers, cars, provide building access or set up payroll as soon as the offer is signed.
- Customisation: Branding, training, safety or location maps can be sent depending on the employee’s roles and responsibilities.
- Buddying up: Assign your new hire with a peer buddy to help them navigate their new workplace.
- Networking: Helping your new hire build a social network of their colleagues means they will have connections from the outset – and thus feel more comfortable and settled.
- Personalisation: Not everyone wants balloons and champagne on their desk when they arrive for their first day. That being said, how cool would it be if after completing the ‘getting to know you’ survey, your hiring manager left a bag of your favourite chips, or your usual afternoon coffee order on your desk with a note to say ‘Welcome’?
- Cost efficiency: Nowadays, these tools don’t cost the earth. Software is usually packaged at the number of hires per month or per annum; for small companies, this makes it more doable, and for large companies that onboard in large numbers, it’s very cost efficient.
- Accountability: Onboarding is no longer the responsibility of HR. Hiring managers can now be given tools to get creative and own on-boarding by setting up pre-commencement or day one activities and beyond for their new recruits, with tracking and input still available for HR.
What can HR practitioners do?
HR practitioners need to embrace some of this new technology, which on closer inspection is not so scary or hard to install.
Once you discover these great products – such as myjoboffer.com, Enboarder.com or HRonboard.com or pageuppeople.com.au (all of which are Australian-based platforms) – that are funky, clever and well-thought out, you’ll want to get one installed as soon as possible.
I can see huge benefits for HR with this new technology, especially as it moves the HR function away from purely process- and paper-based activities to value-added activities such as employee engagement and experience design. Automate the dull, and you’ll have more time to help build relationships with through these new technologies. These tools allow you to think ‘engagement, not process’, and create an impressive, unique and humanised onboarding experience for those crucial first days and weeks.