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      What is an employee onboarding process?

      by Paul McBride

      Employee engagement

      When you look at onboarding at a very high level, it's all about creating new relationships. Everyone involved is meeting someone they will potentially be working with for some time to come. Employee retention should be at the forefront from the moment they arrive at the office - you don’t want someone to leave within the first hour!

      Creating a positive experience for new employees is a significant investment in time and resources. It requires a lot of effort and reaches far beyond the initial job offer.


      So why bother? Why not just point at a desk or a counter, and tell your new people to get to it? Why expend the effort?


      Because investing the time and effort in employee experience works.


      How long does the onboarding of new employees normally last?


      This is a difficult question to answer, as it really begins with how your organisation defines onboarding. The differences in our working environments directly affect how long it can (and should) take.


      For some, a formal program might just be that new hire's first day on the job - the time the employee starts, completing paperwork, learning about the company they just joined, meeting the senior leaders and relevant departments they will interact with. Everything else becomes “on the job learning.” This can actually take a whole working day, there's more to cover than you would think! Download our onboarding checklist here.


      You may refer to what I just described as employee orientation sessions or induction - getting to know your way around on the first day at the office. There is a distinct difference here, think of orientation as an event that takes place as part of onboarding.


      For over six years, this was almost a weekly task in my previous job as a Trainer. The first day covered all of the company-specific introductions and setting expectations, followed by two to four weeks of job-specific training.


      However, “onboarding” was simply the term this organisation used to describe the process of adding a person's details to the company database and setting them up with everything they need to get started:

      • New hire paperwork
      • Computer credentials
      • Mailbox
      • Security pass and access to the car park if required
      • Payroll and Workforce Management details
      • Contract signing and any require client-specific documentation (non-disclosures, employee handbook etc.)


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      While all of these things are necessary to get started in a new job and should be part of the strategy, it does not prepare you for the role itself.


      Onboarding should refer to a complete end-to-end new hire training program which could last days, weeks or even months. For these organisations, by the end of it, the new hire(s) should be fully operational and working semi or fully independently.


      You need to understand how your company views this process (or should be viewing it) before this question can really be answered.


      To determine how long your process needs to be, ask yourself:

      when I say that a new hire is fully onboarded, what do I mean?

      • All documentation, payroll and scheduling is complete.
      • The new start has been trained and accredited to begin their role and.
      • Their expectations are aligned with the company vision and strategy, as well as the company culture, and areas such as compliance training.


      As you can imagine, this could become a non-exhaustive list. If you're part of a HR team or specific onboarding panel, designing a new executive programme (or reviewing your current one), this is a great list to make - think of these as the objectives your new hire must complete before being let loose on their own.

      Once you have a list list of these objectives, content to cover and any practice / assessments that are required, start adding the time it would take to complete each one - now you have an idea of how long your process could take.


      What companies are succeeding at employee onboarding and how?


      People are always looking for creative ways to introduce new employees to the company. Making the transition to onboarding software, such as a phone app, results in a primarily self-directed learning experience that brings employees up to speed quickly, but also at a pace that suits them personally.


      For example, Carnival Corporation use their Crew Tube app to effortlessly onboard over 30k staff every year, for both new and returning staff. By utilising a digital solution, they can deliver a great experience that is the same for every person, every time.


      Another idea I’ve seen is to include a scavenger hunt  with the other team members as part of the process.


      As the new start visited each person on their list, they received a token as “proof” that they had completed each stage of the task. It’s a fun way for learners to find their way around the office, but ideally works with smaller numbers.


      A more fast-paced version of this is to jam-pack your new start’s calendar to meet with the experts in their field, just like Jaqueline on her first day at Intel. This is a quick way to not only orientate the new start, but also ensure that they have met the key team members they will interact with in their role. 


      The key takeaway here is that onboarding does not mean sitting in a classroom for several weeks. Creating an effective programme that utilises eLearning can improve new hire retention their productivity by up to 82% and 70% respectively.

      What is the best employee onboarding process?


      One of the best ways to connect your new people with the company is to align your onboarding process with your organisation's mission, strategy and culture. New hires need to understand the company’s mission and strategic objectives. Then they can see where they fit in and how their jobs help support and achieve these goals.


      This should be in a structured, logical approach that engages with the new hires at every step of the way.


      Every organisation has a different approach to learning. Logicearth can help your HR professionals with the design or adaptation of your existing onboarding curriculum to help your new employees get the very best learning experience. Broaden and strengthen the reach of your learning programmes and reduce traditional classroom capacity barriers through blended learning models and virtual classroom sessions. If this sounds like something you want to explore, get in touch!

      What are best practices in employee onboarding?


      Bringing a new employee on-board involves a lot of moving parts. Beyond the basics of getting them oriented, there are a multitude of other tasks, big and small. Some can only be accomplished over the course of time. Some, though, need to happen right away.


      New hires will most likely feel unsure as they begin their new job. You need to make them feel welcome, and ensure that they understand what's expected of them. Be proactive in facilitating their integration into the company. You want to start establishing a supportive relationship on day one.


      Make sure their workstation is set up. Even if you don't expect much productivity the first day, your new employee should have a base where they can begin to feel at home and part of the team. Unless they are beginning their journey in a training room, endeavour to place their workstation with the team they will be working in. Sitting apart from your peers can become an isolating experience.


      Make the time to sit down and talk together. Your new hire wants to succeed as much as you want them to, but this cannot happen without knowing a whole lot more about you, the company, and the job. You have access to a lot of knowledge they need.


      Help your new hires integrate into the company by pairing them with an experienced employee. A buddy, if you like. A seasoned and responsible employee can provide insight into how things are done at your company, as well as give support and encouragement. It sounds obvious, but employees feel valued when you turn to them for their expertise.


      Finally, don’t let your new employee ride off into the sunset once onboarding is complete. Regular check-ins during the first 30, 60 and 90 days from their start date are crucial to monitor performance, maintain job satisfaction, and address any concerns before they become a bigger problem.


      Things only pick up in speed after day one. Consider the time-to-competence for the role - you want the new start(s) to be prepared as soon as possible, while still keeping engagement high post-training. With a quarter of companies expecting to see an increase in their recruitment budget, it would be a shame to see that extra resource go to waste once the ‘honeymoon period’ of being a new start wears off.


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