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5 Critical Elements of Onboarding that Improve Retention

To prevent the end of an employee’s tenure, you have to start at the beginning.

Your company’s onboarding process is absolutely crucial to the success of your employees and your business at large. It leaves an indelible mark on your team members by communicating their workplace’s culture, developing relationships with teammates, clarifying company rules & practices, and making (or breaking) their overall satisfaction with their position.

As always, the statistics tell the full story. Organizations with a strong onboarding process see new hire retention improve by an average of 82%, which saves tons of money and strengthens culture. Starting young talent off on the right foot is an innovative employee retention strategy that winning companies have been excelling at. People leaders make the mistake of underestimating the connection between onboarding and future productivity; data suggests the average employee only works at a 25% productivity rate during their first month post-hire, while a strong onboarding process can boost productivity by 70%. 

A great onboarding experience can entirely transform the way an employee views the work they do for their organization as well. Workers who reported that they had an “excellent onboarding experience” are then 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace. It’s something that can’t be efficiently automated either, given the fact that when managers take an active role in onboarding, new hires are 3.4x more likely to have an exceptional experience. 

Why, then, do 88% of employees feel that they did not have a great onboarding experience?

It may be because they’re missing these five must-haves for employee onboarding, which is an employee engagement strategy that can turn an underwhelming company introduction into a welcome that will help keep team members committed to their positions.

A social workplace intranet that enables communication and culture adoption

Getting to know the team when you’re hired at a new organization can be tough, and that difficulty is magnified for the millions of people who are stationed remotely after the pandemic shifted the work landscape. It’s an element of onboarding that you can’t overlook; 75% of new hires want more opportunities to make personal connections with team members. The employee retention solution, for both on-site and remote workers, is an online social workplace community.

A social workplace community, which you can find on the intranet of some HR platforms, works kind of like your typical social media site. Each employee has their own personal customizable bio with skills, hobbies, and contact info so that new employees can get to know the team at their own pace. Something to keep in mind as we move along is that onboarding is different from orientation – orientation is a process that involves checking off boxes and paperwork, while onboarding is the act of an employee becoming completely acclimated to their job. Some estimate that the average onboarding experience takes up to a year.

This sort of “social community hub” for work does incredible things for incoming employees that want to be caught up to speed to an organization’s culture. A great one will allow teammates to recognize each other for hard work and completed projects, motivating and engaging them while introducing them to different members of the company. A great work culture also comes in the form of celebrating each other’s birthdays and anniversaries, which a great platform will make public via profiles and notifications.

Companies with several hundred workers typically pose a problem for new hires trying to get to know their colleagues… until they adopt a social community platform. Enable your young talent to foster relationships and put names to faces while they become immersed in your company culture from anywhere they are. 

An org chart that puts the company at their fingertips

This is a simple, yet extremely underrated part of the onboarding experience. Showing a new employee their whole team on an org chart and demonstrating how they fit in is a shortcut to engagement and a sense of belonging. A great social workplace community will automatically construct an org chart for you based on integration with your core HR or payroll system. Each employee can visit the org chart and see where they fit in the company tree and the impact they have.

We’ve all worked for companies in which we only knew a couple coworkers due to the spread out, impersonal nature of the organizational tree. Having all of your colleagues visible and accessible in one place is a monumental step in the direction of employee engagement, productivity, and retention. 

With the presence of contact info on each employee’s profile, you can also use the org chart to reach out to anyone at any time – and even better, the skills listed on their profiles will allow you to search for, get help from, and team up with employees with knowledge in specific areas that you may not possess. Your team will be engaged after developing relationships with team members across departments, and productivity will rise thanks to the collaboration that comes from that kind of interconnectedness.

Introduce your new talent to the team instantly by creating an org chart or by adopting a software that enables one!

Goal tracking that illustrates your performance metrics quickly and clearly

Sometimes new hires are less interested in acclimating to your culture and more interested in simply finding out how much work is expected of them and in what areas. Per research by Eagle Hill Consulting, it’s a more important aspect of the job welcome than we might think – 83% of new talent wishes they knew more about how they were measured on performance after the first month.

When a new employee is unsure of the responsibilities expected of them and the schedule they’re following, their productivity will plummet and their engagement will follow. That’s why it’s essential to be clear upfront about how their performance is measured on a daily/weekly basis, and follow through with a goal tracking strategy.

A proven method is using OKRs, but any goal tracking method will work as long as it supports quantifiable objectives and enables the worker to follow along as they become more productive. The reason new hires are 75% less productive in the first month isn’t because they aren’t doing much work, but is often because they’re not doing the work you want them to be doing. That’s why aligning them with your goals and performance standards can set them ahead of the curve and push your organization to greater heights.

This is alignment that both boosts their productivity and makes them feel like they’re part of your company’s bigger picture — because they are!

A Learning Management System that develops your team for the road ahead

This isn’t only a vital step to onboarding, but it’s one that will help employees grow within your organization for years to come. Did you know that 76% of employees say that they’re more attracted to a company that’s hiring when it offers additional skills training to its staff? That’s why a Learning Management System is so important.

The beauty of the LMS is in its flexibility; not only is it incredibly effective at onboarding employees and teaching them essential material quickly, but it keeps developing talent with continued, updated learning material as they continue on in their positions. This makes it one of the best drivers of employee engagement while improving their work output and boosting employee retention – a lack of professional development was the #1 reason people left their jobs in 2021.

It also keeps all of your team members aligned in their knowledge and skill sets, which is a huge plus for efficiency. When assigning employees to a project, you don’t want to wonder about which of them have the knowledge and experience necessary to complete it. So don’t! Make your workforce a team of know-it-alls!

Employees who had a great onboarding experience are 3.5x as likely to say they have a clear plan for their career development. The two go hand in hand, which is why you should adopt a Learning Management System right away.

A personal touch that brings new talent into your culture

There’s one more piece to the puzzle that ties everything together. You could have an onboarding process that integrates an org chart with an LMS and good goal tracking techniques, but if it’s too template-ized and generic, it could still leave the employee feeling disengaged with the company and its greater purpose. We’ve got to make it more personal.

An org chart itself is a good start, but to truly enhance its effect, have yourself or another supervisor give the new employee a quick tour of it. Give them an opportunity to learn more about their colleagues, the departments, and just how they fit in with everyone. Ask them how they’re doing as they grow accustomed to the job and if they need anything or have any suggestions. Soliciting feedback in general is a great way to improve onboarding for the sake of retention, as you can tweak the process and make the experience better and better.

An LMS by default isn’t the most personal activity, but you can change that by including videos or quizzes tailormade to their skillset. If they have plenty of experience in something like safety protocol, for example, include a line in a quiz that says, “We’ll skip the ‘safety’ portion of the quiz here because we know you’re already a pro!” Demonstrate that you’re paying attention to who they are and what they bring to the table.

Finally, along with all the personal touches you add to your onboarding process, you must make sure they know that their position is meaningful. Their role directly serves your organization’s purpose, and that purpose is twofold – to help customers out with an essential service/product, and to support their employees’ well-being and success. 

Emphasize that your company strives to provide development opportunities for its team and focuses on their physical and mental wellness, and that none of it would be possible without the talent they bring to their position. Market your own company’s culture to them and they’ll fit right in.

Link the practical onboarding tools we’ve discussed with a personal and meaningful welcome as part of your employee retention policy and watch employee engagement soar.

Read even more!
To learn more about ways to boost employee retention, check out our article, How to Retain Employees in 2022! We have a lot more on the subject as well – take a look at our Employee Retention Strategies PDF, or our 10 HR Strategies For the Retention Crisis piece, as told by experts from many of the industries we discussed above. All of our resources can be found in our Library – check them out here! To see HelloTeam, the employee retention platform, in action, click here — and to book a demo with us, go here!

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