We all remember our first days at various companies. Regardless of what the new workplace is like and how confident you are, those first few days (sometimes weeks) will be stressful and you feel satisfied just making it through the day.
It doesn't have to be that way, or at least not to that extent. When companies do their employee onboarding the right way, this initial period is much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Employee Onboarding Basics
Employee onboarding is a term that denotes a structured process through which a company welcomes new employees, provide them with the tools and the knowledge needed to fulfil their future tasks and ease them into the company culture.
Some companies onboard for a few days, while others have a much longer process, sometimes lasting for months.
Main Benefits for Companies
We have already mentioned that a well-executed onboarding process helps new employees feel relaxed and more at home, but this process is equally as important for their employers, the companies that hire them.
For one, it has been shown that companies which have structured onboarding processes are much better at retaining their employees. For instance, almost 70% of employees are less likely to leave if their onboarding was great. In today's job market where everyone is looking for another job, this is very important.
With a great onboarding process, companies also get more productivity from their new hires. For example, it is estimated that organizations with onboarding processes get 50% more productivity from their new hires than those without.
New hires who go through an onboarding process are also quicker to get integrated into company culture, which has a huge positive effect on their job satisfaction.
What Onboarding Entails
There are a few things that every onboarding process will entail and these have to be planned for and executed as carefully as possible.
First of all, there is a great deal of paperwork to be handled, on both sides. Companies that hire new people have innumerable documents to submit to various government agencies. There are also various agreements and contracts to be signed between the employer and the employee.
This is where e-signature software shows its full potential. It helps the company have all of the paperwork in one place where anyone can access it, should the need arise. E-signatures also simplify the process, preventing various contracts and agreements from circulating around the company for weeks and months.
From the point of view of the new employee, e-signatures make for a much more convenient process, which is also quicker. On top of all this, the fact that their new employer has adopted such advanced solutions makes them feel more confident about their new company. This may not seem like much, but it is.
Training and First Tasks
Regardless of how skilled and experienced your new hire is, the chances are that you company has certain processes or uses certain software that they will need to master as part of their onboarding process. The crucial thing here is to make this training as personalized as possible and to pay due attention to it. There is nothing worse than a half hearted approach to training. It should also be pointed out that longer training periods make for better end results.
The onboarding process should also introduce your new hire with their first tasks. Many of the biggest tech companies in the world do this as quickly as possible, issuing first tasks on the very first day. What this means is that your new hire has to have his or her profile in your company's project collaboration software, on their first day. Perhaps even their first task.
Your new hires will feel some pressure, there is no doubt about that, but it definitely beats having to sit around for days without nothing to do. In the end, the thing that will matter here is that they will be a part of the team.
Getting to Know Everyone
Besides finding their way around their future tasks and the business side of the company, your new hires should also be provided with the chance to meet their new colleagues, their superiors and to start becoming a part of the company culture in the full sense of the word.
Besides meeting their team and their direct superior, it would also be a good idea to show them around, introduce them to heads of other departments and with the managers. These should be informal meetings that can be done around the office – nothing that puts any kind of pressure.
Some companies do a bit too much when they introduce their company to their new hires and vice versa and this results in some awkward situations that can make everything worse. Let people interact as they think it's best.
Anything else you can do to help your new hires immerse themselves in company culture is welcome.
Another big part of every onboarding process is keeping track of how your new hire is doing. Sometimes things get real chaotic in a company and you might lose sight of the fact that your new hire has been with you for two weeks already, or a month or even more.
You should check in on them regularly, first every day, then a couple of times a week and then, after a while, once a week. During these conversations, you should ask them how they have been doing, what they think about the colleagues and their responsibilities.
It is important to encourage them to share everything and never to hold back. You will also do well to regularly talk to their direct superiors who will let you know how your new hires are handling their tasks.
If you choose to do formal, written questionnaires (something many companies do), you will once again find that your e-signature software will make things quicker and simpler for everyone involved.
A structured onboarding process is not expensive and it can be done properly very easily. Considering how great it will be for your employee retention and productivity, you would have to be crazy not to do it.
AUTHOR: James D. Burbank has worked with small companies from around the world, helping them exhibit in trade shows. He is currently blogging about what he has learned. He is the editor-in-chief of BizzMarkBlog.