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Onboarding process: why is it important for companies and newly hired staff?
The onboarding process is generally managed by the Human Resource (HR) expert. It is the final part of the recruiting phase aimed at bringing a new employee into the work team.
Planning an onboarding strategy, even within small businesses, is essential to accommodate new resources, make them productive in a short time and prevent them from leaving the job a few months after being hired.
What is the onboarding process? In the business environment, onboarding refers to the set of actions to facilitate the integration of a new employee into the work environment. The purpose is to provide them with all the information and tools that will enable them to get in touch with the corporate culture and tackle their tasks independently. In other words, corporate onboarding, or “organizational socialization,” is the mechanism by which new employees acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviors to become effective members of the company.
Understanding why an onboarding process is crucial in a new employee’s life and how it protects a company’s investment in finding new talent is the Onboarding Curve by Michael D. Watkins, professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, and author of books on leadership and negotiation.
In the book The First 90 Days, Watkins turns the spotlight on a new resource’s first 90 days on the job, which serve to build and solidify both the relationship with the company and the relationship with colleagues. According to the author, investing time and resources in organizational socialization staves off the possibility that the new employee will decide to quit after a few months, reduces job stress, and allows for satisfying work and interpersonal relationships.
In contrast, an improvised and careless onboarding plan does not help the employee to be fully integrated and operational, resulting in early resignation. This results in an economic loss for the company. In fact, the Onboarding Curve shows that most companies begin to see a return on investment only around 6.2 months after hiring.
An onboarding process takes from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 6 months, a period in which a new hire generally decides whether to stay or leave, but it can take up to a year and is generally considered complete when the resource is fully integrated into the company.
Today, digital tools make it possible to reduce errors and optimize the “welcome strategy” and make the new employee’s induction into the company workforce smoother. Digital Onboarding, in fact, ensures a standardization of the onboarding process, accelerates and automates the steps, improves the work of the HR team, and allows the new resource to access all the information they need from any device at any place and time. Thus, a well-structured onboarding process involves three different parties: the company, the people, and the technology.
The 4 Cs of onboarding and 5 ways to put it into practice
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an ideal onboarding process is based on the so-called “Four Cs”:
- Compliance: employees must know the company’s legal and organizational guidelines in order to comply with internal dynamics;
- Clarification: the company must offer clear and precise information to employees about their work and the expectations they have to fulfill;
- Culture: this is a broad category that includes internal practices, both formal and informal, that must be communicated to the new employee to help them get in touch with the company culture;
- Connection: is the end point and refers to the interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must be able to create within the company with their colleagues and managers.
Let’s look at the five ways to implement an onboarding process and make new employees feel part of the organization:
- Before joining: prepare an employee-focused welcome program and send the hiring documents (contract, parking passes, manuals, etc.) electronically to allow the new resource to fill them out in advance and sign them easily using state-of-the-art tools, such as Digital Signature. It is also good to add a personalized welcome message;
- Welcome to board: on the first day of work, the HR team should provide the new employee with the most important information (e.g., company policy and contact information) and the tools needed to perform his or her job (e.g., laptop and company cell phone). Making a new employee feel comfortable will help them to immediately fit in with the work group and be more productive. At this stage, it is also important to involve others such as, for example, the department head or colleagues with whom the new resource will work. In addition, it can be very useful to prepare an Onboarding Kit containing essential items that reinforce the corporate identity and helps the employee in their new job (e.g., branded file folder, notepad, desk planner, pen and water bottle);
- Getting to know the company: schedule a tour of the facility to enable the new employee to get to know the various areas and help him or her find their way around independently. Getting to know the company also means sharing with the new resource all the information related to the daily routine, such as coffee breaks and welfare services;
- The importance of mentoring: one of the key figures in the corporate onboarding process is that of the mentor, who must be a point of reference for the newly hired. Mentoring, which does not have to end in the first few weeks but should last until the end of the first year, involves an experienced person (Senior) working alongside a less experienced person (Junior) to guide him or her along the learning path. The aim is to fostering the professional and personal growth of the newly hired employee;
- Training and evaluation: proper training allows the new employee to learn the main skills, achieve goals, and meet expectations related to their job without feeling pressure. Of course, it is important to measure the results of the onboarding process to assess the effectiveness of the actions put in place. It is ideal to provide feedback on a weekly basis during the first 30 days. Thereafter, and until the end of the new resource’s induction process, feedback can become monthly.