Onboarding – what’s it all about?

Onboarding. It’s what everyone’s talking about, and it’s certainly on a lot of employers’ minds. But, what makes a successful programme?

The five best practice trends are:

From event to process. Onboarding should start during the recruitment phase and last until up to six months after commencement of employment.

A multidimensional programme. Onboarding should provide an understanding of three core areas – the business, the situational and the cultural context.

Active involvement of senior management. Senior leadership input into and part own the onboarding programme.

Deployment of digital media. Technology. Whether it’s creating ‘new joiner portals’ to house all the paperwork, or using an intranet to help new starters find everything they need.

Data driven programme improvement. What success looks like is defined and key onboarding metrics are identified.

It’s never been more important to ensure employees receive the right onboarding process. Realisation is hitting that a successful onboarding programme is just as vital to attracting and retaining quality candidates as the employee value proposition, culture and candidate experience. It’s also fundamental to length of service. Without a good onboarding programme employers can expect to lose one in three new hires within a year, 22% within six months.

“We’ve seen a lot of exciting growth in onboarding during the last few years,”
Eleanor Nickerson, director of UK operations, Top Employers Institute.

But beyond onboarding is segmented onboarding, which isn’t being taken up in the same way. By segmentation here I am referring to tailoring the onboarding programmes to suit different diversity groups – gender, age, ethnicity and socio-economic status.

As it stands by not segmenting their onboarding programmes, employers are overlooking an important and effective strategy for retaining the minorities they aspire to recruit. Going from a segmented EVP to a one-size-fits-all onboarding programme misses the point. These points of employee difference need to embraced and considered within the onboarding process.

But some companies have cottoned on to this…

Some companies have acknowledged a need for onboarding innovation, but this tends to be more generally centred around interesting and novel experiences.

Some companies that are garnering attention for their creative approach to onboarding are Veson Nautical, Adobe and ZAPPOS.

Veson Nautical employ a programme called “FastStart” to encourage a close relationship between the new starter and their line manager.

Adobe do it differently via an entirely virtual onboarding experience. Providing opportunities to chat in an online “chat pod”. It also is a tool for collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

ZAPPOS is famous for its onboarding tactic, “The Offer”. This is where new hires are offered a five-week course that teaches them everything they need to know about the company and their roles.

But there is still a need for something more tailored. A more specific structure for different employees. This is where segmentation of onboarding comes in, as it represents innovation at a strategic level. Adapting to suit each individual’s circumstances.

What makes an onboarding programme stand out, and what kind of programme encourages new employees to stay in a role?

Ultimately it’s programmes that engage new starters from the offset, provide contact with managers and make objectives clear from the outset. Amongst this, a successfully onboarded employee will have all the resources to consult during their employment and be comfortable asking any questions as they arise.

Now we’ve got you thinking about onboarding, we’ll be revealing more in this series. In future posts we will explore onboarding obstacles and ways that employers work to actively get around these obstacles.