Don’t Make This Common Mistake: The Importance of Employee Onboarding

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Employee onboarding is not only crucial to the long-term success of your business and corporate culture, but it is a vital first step in retaining your talent. You worked hard to recruit your new employee – don’t throw it away by giving them a poor welcoming.

A commonly underrated and overlooked factor in the retention of staff is the induction process. Onboarding helps new hires adjust to the social and performance aspects of their jobs, which aids in them quickly becoming productive and contributing members of the business.

Studies show that 6 out of 10 Australian managers have had an employee leave within their probation period, with a staggering 43% of those employees leaving within the first month due to poor onboarding practices.

So why is onboarding so important? 

Delays during the onboarding process can give the impression that your new hire is not expected to be productive immediately, or that you cannot be bothered setting them up for success. And this does not make for a great first impression! 

A 2015 in-depth study showed that strong onboarding improves new hire retention by 82%, and improves immediate productivity by over 70%.

How to improve the employee onboarding process

Before your new employee starts, ensure they are equipped with:

·   Directions to the workplace along with parking instructions

·   Security clearance and building access

·   A dress code (or uniform, if applicable)

·   Their own desk or workspace

·   Company devices – computer / phone / tablet (or company policy if they’re using their own devices)

·   Office supplies

·   Access to network drives and programs

·   Specialist tools and equipment


Paperwork and employee contracts should ideally be completed prior to the employee starting, but the hiring manager or HR representative should set aside some time when the employee first arrives to ensure nothing is missing and any additional policies and questions can be addressed. 

These documents may include:

·   Employee contract or the letter of offer

·   Payroll forms – including bank details, superannuation and tax declaration

·   Police and Working with Children Checks (if applicable)

·   Company policies that require acknowledgement – these may include IT security, use of motor vehicle, social media policy, and dress code

·   Safety induction checklist (these are usually performed with an immediate manager or supervisor)

For HR representatives managing the onboarding process, it would be advised to spend some time with the department manager or supervisor prior to the employee arriving, to ensure you have a clear understanding of the role and expectations, and can anticipate any questions.

It’s important to ensure the team or department is aware of the new hire starting as this can make for a more welcoming initiation.The first day for the new employee should not be too overwhelming with a load of information. It should instead be focussed on the welcome experience.

The supervisor or manager should address:

·   A team introduction

·   The company vision, values and history

·   Team lingo and terminology

·   Workplace rituals (such as ‘casual Friday’ or lunch programs)

·   Orientation of the office layout

We’ve heard of horror stories of new employees not being shown where the restrooms were, only to roam the halls for days trying to find one! Would that make you feel welcome in your new environment?

It is a great idea to introduce a ‘buddy’ system for your new hire – someone who can provide the lay of the land in a less-formal context.

New employees may feel more comfortable asking questions about the office culture and quirks of the team to someone who isn’t their direct boss.

When it comes to learning the role itself, if there is a professional manual or training guide, ensure that it has been updated and contains the relevant information required for the role. For positions that may not have a designated document, it’s a good idea to have the outgoing employee make some notes about particular tasks, individual preferences of managers and executives, and responsibilities of the role. For example, in an administrative position, there will be elements specific to the company culture and brand representation that should be highlighted.

25% of companies admitted that their onboarding journey does not include any form of training, but in order to successfully integrate your new hire into the organisation, both are equally essential. It is worth considering any industry courses or professional training that would fit the role, and be valuable to your new employee. 

Set your new hire up for success with a great onboarding experience

It’s important to note that the onboarding process doesn’t end with the first day, or even the first week. You should be checking in with your new employee regularly (at least weekly) to ensure they are comfortable with the role, their expectations and their targets. Regardless of whether you have agreed upon a probation period, you should set a formal meeting to check in with the new employee around three months into the role, to ensure the mutual expectations are continuing to be met.

Setting your employees up for success requires clear goals, objectives and succession planning. Not only is that first step a crucial one to employee engagement, retention and productivity levels, but you are securing your reputation as an employer of choice, whilst still adhering to your legal obligation to ensure the employee knows how to perform their role safely.

Are you an employer looking to hire for a new role? We can help take the guesswork out of the equation. Call us on (03) 56 22 0986 for an obligation-free quote today.

References: 

  1. Chris Pash, September 13, 2018, “Why many Australians report their first day at a new job a disaster”, Business Insider Australia, https://www.businessinsider.com.au/why-many-australians-report-their-first-day-at-a-new-job-as-a-disaster-2018-9
  2. Madeline Laurano, August 2015, “The true cost of a bad hire”, Brandon Hall Group,  https://b2b-assets.glassdoor.com/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire.pdf
  3. Laura Baker, February 12, 2020, “6 Cringe-worthy onboarding statistics to crush your onboarding disbelief”, Clear Company, https://blog.clearcompany.com/cringe-worthy-stats-to-crush-your-onboarding-disbelief
  4. Maren Hogan, May 29, 2015, “How to get employee onboarding right”, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2015/05/29/how-to-get-employee-onboarding-right/#686eb7c8407b
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