7 Ways to Upgrade the Onboarding and New Hire Experience

July 2, 2019 | Shannon Shoemaker

The first six months on the job is crucial, as it sets the tone for employee experience, engagement and productivity. This is an opportunity for your company to train, engage, and build relationships with your most recent hires during this honeymoon period. According to data from the workforce insights arm of credit-reporting agency Equifax, 40 percent of employees who left their jobs voluntarily did so within six months of starting a position; another 16 percent of all employees who left on their own choosing did so within 12 months, meaning more than half of voluntary turnover happens within a year of new hires’ start dates.

Also, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 60 percent of an entire workforce will be gone from a company within four years if there is no formal process for ongoing training and career development. A SHRM report also indicated that companies with an engaging onboarding program retain 91 percent of their first-year workers. Despite these statistics, many organizations invest all their time and budget courting candidates with phone calls, company videos and recruitment marketing campaigns and fail to focus on the opportunity that is presented to them once a candidate says yes and begins the employee and employer relationship: New hire onboarding.


How to Elevate Your New Hire Onboarding

New hire onboarding is important to help set the stage, communicate policies procedures, and help an employee acclimate to your company culture. A well-planned onboarding program is also a great retention management strategy. Retaining top talent enhances organizational morale and productivity. Top producers possess accumulated knowledge and are valued contributors.

In this post, we’ll go over seven ways you can upgrade your employee onboarding and new hire experience to help continue the great candidate experience your recruiting team has been providing.


1. Take new hire paperwork and compliance forms online to make it quick and easy. E-Verify is a web-based system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Consider making these forms available as a “preboarding” task rather than requiring employees to spend part of their first day filling out paperwork (online or not). You can set up an online new employee portal that allows new hires to complete these forms and familiarize themselves with your company before their start date. This can also help your HR team streamline new hire paperwork.

2. Interactive presentations from key team members. Many companies will have HR team members lead onboarding and new hire training. Because your company has different categories of employees, lumping them together into a single session during which they may have to sit through information that isn’t relevant (or interesting) to them can be painful for your new hires. Consider segmenting your new hires and have team members from each line of business present onboarding sessions that are participatory and allow time for questions that are team-specific. The participation is key to engagement, as it keeps your new hire interested (and awake), especially when the alternative is a presenter reading from a PowerPoint presentation.

3. Have fun. I’m not talking about icebreaker, put-them-on-the-spot, tell two truths and a lie “fun.” Set a time for a catered lunch for all segments to come together and mingle on their own with team members from different areas of the company. Consider having an end-of-day happy hour that includes the team members your new hires will be working with. Some companies will pair new hires off and hold a company-wide scavenger hunt, in which the teams have to locate specific people in the company and get answers to questions, or locate objects that are strategically hidden on your campus.

4. Be prepared. Having things like logins, software access, and computers are important to reducing first day anxiety and ensuring that your new employee feels prepared and ready to work. Consider setting aside some time on your new hires’ first day just to allow them to log on to their workstation, browse the company intranet, and return to your onboarding training with questions.

5. Provide your facilitators with speaking training to make the experience more memorable and engaging. There’s a talent to public speaking and some people are born with it. Others can be taught! Bringing in an expert for a day of “train the trainer” will not only improve the presentation skills of your speakers, it will make them feel more confident about doing it.

6. Anticipate questions and provide resources in multiple mediums. As mentioned above, reading from a PowerPoint rarely makes for engaging training. It’s a good idea to begin the day with a “what to expect” briefing so that your new hires aren’t constantly wondering what happens next. Have fact sheets available in print and online for frequently asked questions about benefits, perks, company policies, and organizational chart. Short videos are great for answering questions about company history, like a message from your CEO about what he or she thinks makes your company great, or a video reel of team leaders talking about what a day on their team is like.

7. Leverage technology to make the experience interactive. Things like texting responses or participating in polls during meetings are a great way to make it fun. You can easily develop these in an app like Kahoot that lets you create polls and quizzes with gamification elements to hold your new hires’ attention. Consider that it also sends a subtle message to millennials and gen Z new hires that no one will ask them to tuck their phones away, setting up an expectation of trust.


Employee Onboarding Doesn’t Stop After New Hire Orientation

Historically, onboarding has been treated as a single event rather than a process: New hires are passive participants in a one- or two-day orientation. The traditional goal of simply having people signed up and oriented on the basics must shift towards one of delighting new hires and providing them with the information and the support that they need to be productive as soon as possible, for as long as they need it. An effective onboarding program that doesn’t end on day two can be one of the most fundamental factors for improving your company’s retention success and employee experience.

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