What Every Leader Should Know About Onboarding

welcomematpan_20753The following is a guest post from Megan Webb-Morgan. Enjoy!

As a leader within your business, you may look at the amount of time your HR department spends on new employee onboarding and have a few questions. While it is generally accepted that you will spend money on background checks, recruiting software and the like – should you be spending the time and money on onboarding?

In The 10 Commandments of Onboarding, Business.com suggests, “The benefits of proper orientation include reduced costs associated with learning on the job; time saved training the new employee; increased production; increased morale; and decreased turnover (as a result of showing employees they are valued).”

Research from The Aberdeen Group reaffirms this importance; they reported that organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention. Businesses are focusing more and more on onboarding in order to meet their growth objectives, overcome skills shortages in the labor pool, and improve their attractiveness in the marketplace for top talent.

In order to foster an effective new hire onboarding process within your company, here’s what you need to know.

Orientation Is Not Onboarding

New employees often attend orientation their first day or two on the job. However, this process is not, and should not be confused with, the more long-term priorities of onboarding. Rather, orientation is simply the first step in the longer onboarding process.

Confusing orientation with onboarding can leave your employees unable to live up to the above-cited 54% increase in productivity.

  • The priorities of orientation are to introduce new employees to the company’s culture, policies, and support structure. It is often conducted by administrative staff over the course of one or several days.
  • The priorities of onboarding are to accelerate the employee’s ability to perform and contribute, to set performance objectives, and inculcate the company culture within the employee. It is conducted by the employee’s managers, senior level staff, and job coaches (DMB).
  • Don’t forget social onboarding; our recent Resource Nation post suggests, “Flexible work hours lend themselves to social onboarding – new employees can be on-boarded in the office, at home, or on their commute to and from work.”

Longer Onboarding is Better

In short, onboarding is the period through which a new hire becomes fully proficient in their new position. An extensive survey of sales professionals found that it takes new sales people 8 to 12 months (or more) to gain proficiency comparable to their tenured coworkers – yet employers spend less than two months onboarding those new employees.

The employers who experienced the greatest satisfaction with their onboarding programs used programs that were comprehensive and highly structured. These programs lasted nearly two times longer than the programs of employers who were least satisfied with their onboarding. Furthermore, the employees of those companies that had the longest onboarding programs gained full proficiency 34% faster than those in the shortest programs – a difference of four months.

“The length of time required to develop productive salespeople is significant and varies based on role

responsibilities. The onboarding program duration should be designed to reduce the amount of time it takes for new salespeople to produce at the same level as tenured ones.” – Sales Architects

The Importance of Technology

Technology can play an important role in many aspects of employee onboarding – from automating administrative tasks to helping new hires become incorporated into the company culture.

  • New employees spend a large amount of their onboarding time on administrative tasks, including: new employee forms (92%), benefits enrollment (87%), orientation to company information (85%), and employment verification through I-9 forms (73%).
  • Automating these tasks with your business’s HR software enables your managers to spend more time on the social and cultural elements of onboarding. It also results in 18% greater achievement of the employee’s first performance goals as well as 16% higher new hire retention rates (Aberdeen Group).

Lost productivity due to new hire learning curves can cost from 1% to 2.5% of total business revenues, according to the Mellon Learning Curve Research Study. Business leaders need to understand the difference between orientation and onboarding, the importance of a long onboarding process, and the role that technology plays in helping new hires achieve maximum productivity in less time.

Megan Webb-Morgan is a business blogger and web content curator. She currently writes for ResourceNation.com, focusing on a variety of subjects that range from HR software to social hiring. Follow ResourceNation on Twitter and Google+

 

4 thoughts on “What Every Leader Should Know About Onboarding

  • Megan, I appreciate this post. So often we miss this headline: “Orientation Is Not Onboarding”. And then, when the new hire (the one we were so excited about) doesn’t succeed, we wonder where we went wrong in the interview process. Instead it is often because we failed–or don’t even have–an on boarding process.

  • Excellent post, thank you. Onboarding is, like so many people-management issues, pretty obvious but so ignored. Who wouldn’t want their new hires up and running as soon as possible? “But you mean I have to make it happen? Oh, no.”
    Of course, the organisations that have effective onboarding programmes probably have a whole host of other “obvious” things going that contribute to the 54%, 50% and 34% stats above. My guess is that, key to them all, there is a management team that takes people management seriously as a personal responsibility, not to be shunted to HR.

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