I don’t have an exact number, but I think I’ve probably onboarded close to 10,000 employees in my HR and talent acquisition career. Now, I didn’t always own the entire onboarding process but I played a role in all of those hires!
So, I like to think of myself as an onboarding expert. It’s a big responsibility, as onboarding is such a critical aspect of successful employee tenure. A horrible onboarding experience may drive new employees to look for another job by lunch time, but an awesome onboarding experience will make those same employees want to get out and recruit your next great hire!
It seems like most organizations are constantly tinkering with their onboarding processes, most likely because we feel like we can always make the orientation process for new hires better. I think for me there is never a “perfect” onboarding process, but I definitely think there is an ideal state for which you to strive to achieve in onboarding.
- Onboarding has to start before the first day of work. If your new employee shows up for their first day and no onboarding has taken place, you’ve failed that new employee.
- Administrative work for the new employee is absent on day one. That means you need to get all that administrative work out of the way before day one. There are a few ways to accomplish this but the best way is to utilize technology and have at least a portion of your onboarding completed online.
- Your new employees should know exactly what will be expected of them before they show up to work on day one, and hopefully much longer than that. When I went to work in HR at Applebee’s I was delivered a 90-day calendar completely filled in on what I would be working on and where I would be at each day. Of course, this is exceptional, but it’s not too much to ask that we deliver each new employee at least day one and probably week one.
- Give them a “wow” moment. A wow moment is not something that is the same for each employee, so this takes a bit of work. For one employee maybe it’s just taking them to lunch, for another maybe it’s sending flowers to their spouse and thanking them for allowing your team to “borrow” them each day. Maybe it’s decorating their office in their favorite team’s colors and banners. A wow moment on day one is really awesome!
- Onboarding can’t end after day one, or even week one. What’s the ideal length? I don’t know, that depends on your organization and the position someone was hired for. What I do know is that if you have a position with higher new hire turnover, you need to increase your onboarding time for those positions!
Onboarding is really hard to do well if you’re only using manual processes. Employee onboarding software allows you to do most of the administrative and scheduling of onboarding, which will then give you and your team the capacity to do all the extra things that make onboarding special for new employees.
Onboarding might be the most overlooked aspect of new hire turnover, and it’s something we in HR and talent acquisition completely control! By planning ahead, creating a good new hire experience and using technology to streamline processes, you can get closer to that ideal state of onboarding.
Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.