Who doesn’t remember the first few weeks on a new job? Somehow we all survived those early days of being “the newbie” on the team, overwhelmed by all the new information and new faces, at the same time eager to get started and start showing everyone what we could do.
But for organizations, if all employees do is simply “survive” the initial period, it means the company has wasted a unique and invaluable opportunity to generate a positive, deep and lasting employee-employer relationship. The first few weeks in a job have a long-term impact on new employees, which is why an onboarding strategy is so critical.
The onboarding process—going beyond new hire orientation—can define the level of commitment an employee will have toward the organization in the long run. And, a bad experience at this stage is not always one an employee can bounce back from. During the first few weeks, employees may ask themselves—sometimes several times a day—if they’ve made the right decision to join your company.
The data speaks for itself: In a https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/onboarding-infographic/ rel=”nofollow”>study of over 1,000 workers, 31% reported having quit a job within the first six months. For companies, the risk is too high considering the financial costs to replace an employee (between $3.000 and $18,000).
What is onboarding and why is so important?
Ensuring that new employees have what they need to become effective members of the company—which is at the core of onboarding best practices—is more critical than ever.
In the short term, this process directly influences the amount of time it will take for a new employee to become productive. In the long term, it will influence their level of commitment, job satisfaction, and retention.
Let’s look at some of the numbers about the impact of an effective employee onboarding program.
Onboarding process: rolling out the red carpet
What makes employee onboarding successful? It’s about ensuring your new hire is equipped with the necessary tools and confidence to dive into their jobs in an engaged and productive manner as quickly as possible.
Part of the process of bringing a new hire into the fold is employee orientation. This generally involves sitting down with HR to fill out forms, familiarizing oneself with different company policies, and reviewing employment benefits, and so forth. Oftentimes these short-term actions are confused with an onboarding strategy.
But onboarding new employees is a long-term process that focuses on helping them integrate themselves into the organization. It’s about building crucial relationships, understanding one’s role and learning how one can add value. It takes many shared social moments to get to know your colleagues, gain a sense of security, and feel like you’re part of a team.
How can you help a new team member adapt quickly and effectively? Let’s take a look at the main challenges of employee orientation and how technology can facilitate the adaptation process from day one.
1) Focus on connections
We know that at the beginning a new employee needs a lot of patience—and a good memory—to learn everyone’s names, identify support staff, who reports to whom, and, of course, what each one’s job is and who they interact with. Overwhelming, right? Wouldn’t it be great to have a system that not only introduced them to their colleagues but also showed them how each person interacts with one another in the company? The great news is that technology can help with this, illustrating the interpersonal connections throughout the organization, providing a new hire with a “social map” of the organization they can use to navigate easily and quickly.
2) Organizational culture
On the first day at a new job, employees usually have to complete numerous forms and familiarize themselves with the company’s different policies. As part of this blitz of information, newcomers receive a list of company values, as if they were static concepts disconnected from the work routine. How can you help a new employee better connect these values with their job and workspace?
Celebrating employees accomplishments tied to company values for everyone in the organization to see is a great way to dynamically bring organizational values to life. And much like the way people use technology to share information quickly in their private lives, technology can be a great enabler to showcase employees’ everyday accomplishments.
3) The more personal, the better
The first weeks on a job are socially “delicate” moments; even extroverted and less shy individuals can feel weak in the knees facing new colleagues, wondering how long it will be before they can join in on the office banter. Getting to know their colleagues takes time, dedication, and shared interests: discovering that the other person is a fan of the same basketball team, that they live in the same neighborhood, that they too are huge fans of Lady Gaga, or that they also swear Friends was the best series of all time. Now imagine having that information available from day one. The advantage that it implies for the newcomer to have that data from the first day on the job! Well today, with the right onboarding technology, that information is available and accessible.
4) Fun is a serious matter
Globant’s offices have unique spaces that promote peer interaction and fun.
Enjoying oneself and having fun at work is a determining factor for job satisfaction. During the adaptation phase, setting the tone with a cheerful and fun environment is sure to generate that first Wow! That will define a new employee’s link with the company from that moment on.
According to Globant, creator and user of the cultural platform StarMeUp OS, during 2018, their employees recognized their peers with the value “Have Fun,” 17.6% of the time they used the platform, For Globant’s employees, fun is the third most important value of its organizational culture. On the other hand, according to a survey of 2000 millennials, 70% of respondents said they prefer technology in the office and without it, 20% would resign (source: Jive Communications). One plus one equals two: find a fun and attractive technology solution to motivate, connect and increase the participation of your employees.
Onboarding program and the false dilemma between the urgent and the important
According to Talya N. Bauer, author of Human Resource Management: People, Data, and Analytics, HR areas need to take a proactive approach to the onboarding process to ensure its success. She refers to the so-called “Four Cs” (Compliance, Clarification, Culture and Connection).
According to Bauer, the sooner a newly hired person feels welcome and prepared to do their job, the quicker they will be able to contribute to the company’s success. Onboarding programs tend to focus on the first two Cs, trying to ensure that the employee incorporates the company’s “official” content without delay. However, the last two C’s (Culture and Connection) are those that in the long run end up impacting job satisfaction and organizational commitment. For that reason, in an effective work onboarding program, the four Cs should have the same level of importance and urgency.
There are two aspects to keep in mind:
1) Enrich culture continuously
Alignment with values and commitment to organizational culture are processes that are built over time. Although onboarding is a unique opportunity to lay the foundation for a solid and positive relationship with the company, it is a bond that must be constantly nourished and enriched.
2) Before and after orientation
From the moment a new hire joins a company, they embark on a journey, which begins before the onboarding stage—during the application process—and continues throughout the work cycle. While each stage of this process involves different objectives and challenges, providing the best possible experience for employees is a fundamental principle that remains constant. Having tools to communicate, give feedback, recognize and motivate employees throughout their work history is key to maintaining that initial Wow! over time.
Technology enhancing humanity
It is important to understand that technology in the workplace does not replace human interactions. On the contrary, it can improve how employees interact with each other, helping to establish deep and positive bonds between workers. When a new employee joins a team and discovers that their team members are located around the world (something that is more and more frequent), technology becomes an essential tool in helping them connect with, and get to know their peers better.
It is clear that the integration of new employees into the organization is much easier and more fluid for companies who also make the right technologies a part of this process.
For the employer, effective onboarding means a faster learning curve for the new hire, generating a more productive and committed workforce. And, for employees, their assimilation process is no longer a matter of survival but marked as a much more positive and social experience.