It's time to get serious about onboarding

September 25, 2017 Caitlin Leishman

When you hire a new employee you may have them shadow an experienced colleague, complete on-the-job training, or read certain materials to familiarize them with the company. These activities are all part of onboarding, the process of integrating a new employee into an organization. What constitutes the onboarding process varies from organization to organization, as integrating a new employee isn’t a standardized process. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that onboarding isn’t something that just happens, it is a planned process that must be carefully thought out and executed.

Ideally, onboarding starts during recruitment when your potential new hire is considering how they’d fit it at your organization. Effective onboarding that begins early is key for several reasons:

  1. Making the right first impression leads to improved retention and engagement.
  2. Increased productivity in less time.

Smart businesses choose onboarding because it helps them accomplish a variety of objectives, including creating a feeling of inclusiveness, simplifying HR processes, and providing consistency for all employees. Onboarding can be a tricky process as you must cover legal compliance, training, support from management, cultural engagement, and more! A lot of things are straightforward, for instance setting up an employee with internet access, providing health and safety training, and on-the-job training. Lesser known strategies, but no less important, include setting up welcome events, providing early skills assessments, and setting 30, and 60 day goals.

A lot of organizations think they can simply ‘wing’ their onboarding process, but this assumption could cost a significant amount of money and talent. 22 percent of turnover occurs during the first month and a half of employment, so not taking onboarding seriously can have detrimental effects. So what can you do?

Besides integrating activities like those described above, competencies are an effective tool for a smooth onboarding process. Competencies allow employees to see opportunities for growth, they support effective communication, and make it easier for managers to guide employees towards success. Employees already feel part of the organizational culture when it is clearly outlined in an organization’s core competencies, and are more likely to feel engaged and deliver a better performance.

Competencies can also support onboarding before any actual hiring takes place. By using competency based interview techniques and questions you can ensure that the most qualified candidates are hired, making successful training more likely. Once hired, a new employee will have a clear competency-based job and/or role profile that will clearly define the behaviors they need to display for success. More experienced employees will be able to guide new hires and teach them how to emulate these behaviors, leading to a successful collaborative onboarding process.

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