Successful Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Started Off Right Oct16


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Successful Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Started Off Right

We would like to share this article by David Lee on getting new employees orientated in a new office.

The full article can be viewed here.

The term “Onboarding” refers to the process of integrating new employees into the organization, of preparing them to succeed at their job, and to become fully engaged, productive members of the organization. It includes the initial orientation
process and the ensuing 3-6 months (or however long it takes to get an employee “up to speed” in a particular company or discipline). This white paper focuses on how to avoid the common mistakes and careless errors so many organizations make in the onboarding process and how to design an onboarding process that not only prepares employees well, but leaves them feeling inspired. We will provide guiding principles, practical strategies, a series of diagnostic questions, and best practices you can use to upgrade your onboarding process.

Regarding best practices… while it’s natural to look for the “right” or “best” way to do something, best practices are perhaps most useful as a stimulus for creating one’s own approach. Because each organization has a unique personality, culture,
and constellation of operational needs and challenges; creating a customized approach to address the particularities of one’s organization will be more successful than adopting whole cloth someone else’s solution.

Why Bother Investing The Time and Resources When You’ve Got So Much Else to Do?
An investment in effective Onboarding is an investment in employee retention, morale, and productivity. Research at Corning Glass Works revealed that employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69% more likely to remain with the company after three years than those who did not go through the same program. Another study conducted at Texas Instruments showed that employees whose orientation process was carefully attended to reached “full productivity” two months earlier than those whose orientation process was not.

More recently, Hunter Douglas found that by upgrading their onboarding process, they were able to reduce their turnover from a staggering 70% at six months, to 16%.2 These changes also translated into improved attendance, increased productivity, and – not surprisingly – a reduction in their damaged-goods rate. At Designer Blinds, an Omaha based manufacturer of window blinds, upgrading the onboarding process played a central role in reducing turnover from 200% annually to under 8%! Because of the dramatic drop in turnover, they were able to reduce their recruiting budget from $30,000 to $2,000. A 2003 study by Hewitt Associates demonstrating the connection between effective onboarding and engagement revealed that companies who invested the most time and resources in onboarding, enjoyed the highest levels of employee engagement.3 Both research and common sense tell us that it makes sense to invest time and effort into preparing employees to be successful at their jobs. If you want them to become productive as quickly as possible, why would anyone not do what it took to make that happen? If you’re going to spend all that money on acquiring them and paying them to come to work, why would you not prepare them to succeed? Despite the obviousness of this, many organizations approach new hire orientation with a level of professionalism and quality they would never tolerate in their daily operations.

Orientation As Nightmare

Rex Castle, Senior VP of Human Resources of State National Bank of Lubbock, Texas, captures the typical new hire orientation nightmare: ” You come in and sit down in monumentally uncomfortable chairs and are bombarded with papers, rules, policies… you know those ‘this is how you get fired’ sort of comments. If it’s a big employer and a big group of new hires,
someone stands in front of a PowerPoint slide show and reads the slides to you. Usually it’s an HR underling who is totally uncomfortable in front of a group and rarely, if ever, smiles … You sign and sign and sign more paper than if you were buying a house… and then you walk out thinking ‘man, I hope I don’t get fired, but at least I know how to get fired’…. And those are the good ones…. The poor ones are done by a harried manager at a location and God only knows what it is the employee is receiving in terms of an understanding of policies and procedures.”  Rebecca Ganzel, “Putting Out the Welcome Mat,” raining Magazine, March 1998 2 Keith Hammonds, “Why We Hate HR,” Fast Company, August, 2005. 3 Best Employer to Work for in Australia, Hewitt Associates, 2003 Most employees have had variations on this theme, including some of the classics:

• Being put to sleep by presenters who either needed a personality implant or a Toastmasters overhaul.

• Watching the HR rep scurry about trying to find the laptop and projector, or the correct copies of employee manuals, while everyone waits and
• Discovering that their work station is “not quite ready.” While it is covered with outdated equipment waiting to be discarded and boxes of miscellaneous “stuff”, it doesn’t have a telephone or PC.

• Having a harried – or just plain disrespectful – boss show up an hour late to “welcome” them on their first day (This was not an uncommon occurrence at a company that, not surprisingly, had low morale and a 40% turnover rate.

• Handing them off to the first available employee – including the most cynical, resentful, burnt out, disengaged employees – for “first day on the job coaching.”

Eric Wood, President of EnviroSense, Inc., a New Hampshire based environmental consulting firm, captures the “why bother do onboarding right”: With a thorough orientation and onboarding process, the probability of achieving the goals of the business and the employee are greatly increased; without it, the probabilities of disappointment, employee turnover, re-work,
and dissatisfied clients all grow unnecessarily.”