By: John Bonoff
Chances are, you’re aware that onboarding plays a big role in the health of your organization, even if you haven’t seen the numbers; numbers like 70%–the rate at which strong onboarding improves employee productivity, or 82%–the rate at which it increases retention. Yes, most leaders can discern that effective onboarding is crucial, even if they haven’t seen the statistics. And yet, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their employer nailed onboarding. Why is that? What are the challenges that make effective onboarding harder than it looks, and how can we make it easier? Let’s take a look at three common onboarding challenges, and the ways they can be overcome.
Keeping it consistent
The biggest threat to effective, scalable onboarding campaigns is inconsistent application. Different teams, onboarding at different times, across different departments, locations, and time zones require thorough logistical preparation and communication strategy from internal teams. On a smaller scale, the same onboarding program will be produced in different ways for members of the same team if the program isn’t coordinated properly with other company initiatives. The resource demand to sustain this level of synchronization is often underestimated, until it becomes overwhelming for HR and internal communications teams down the road, leading to gaps in the onboarding process and an underwhelming employee experience.
One of the easiest ways to conserve resources and build a more consistent experience for new hires is to implement a technology that can automate and enable this type of coordination. Employee communication software can provide tools like a global communications calendar, where all concurrent onboarding campaigns are visible, along with coinciding internal programs. You can plan and automate specific employee communications to ensure new hires get the right information at the right time. Simple, intuitive features like these allow leaders and their cross-functional teams to greatly reduce the resources and frequency of meetings needed to launch and sustain campaigns. Creating this program consistency by automating the onboarding schedule will produce a better experience for employees, and make it easier to scale your campaigns in the future.
Creating something repeatable
As mentioned, the demand on company resources to manually schedule and launch each onboarding campaign can get in the way of program quality and scalability. Perhaps just as intensive is the resource demand to create content and messaging for each successive onboarding program throughout the year. According to SaplingHR, the average new hire onboarding experience consists of 54 activities. With groups, or “classes” of employees starting at different times throughout the year, each requiring their own set of communications to guide them through the process, creating a new and effective onboarding experience for each group is a very tall order. When you factor in company growth and the need to scale, the order becomes impossible to fill.
To navigate this challenge, leverage technology to build and configure onboarding campaigns that can be reproduced with the click of a button. Create core content and automate communication strategy to direct resources away from continually re-creating new campaigns, toward fine-tuning what you want your employees to learn. Use event-based communication triggers to set a messaging campaign that begins on an employee’s first day, ensuring everyone starts the same way. This can be set to easily activate when a new employee’s information is added to your HRIS. Take time to ensure content and employee communications are repeatable; this raises your ceiling for company growth and helps secure positive employee experiences.
Clarifying your company brand
In research commissioned by Glassdoor, Brandon Hall Group performed a study on “The True Cost of a Bad Hire.” A bad hire is defined by the researchers as “someone who negatively impacts organizational productivity, performance, retention, and culture.” The study lays out the biggest contributors to bad hires, and unsurprisingly, “interview process” is number one. Finding a candidate with the perfect skills, experience, and values for an open position is hard, and even seasoned interviewers make mistakes. But the second biggest contributor? “Weak employer brand.”
In addition to giving employees the information they need to do their job, onboarding must include information about who and what employees are doing the job for. In the absence of a clear company identity, and by extension, clear expectations for behavior, new hires can become bad hires without even realizing it. It is on employers to use onboarding as a way to immediately clarify company brand to new hires, which, according to the study, consists of two elements: company image, which is made up of your employee value proposition, mission, and values, and reputation, in the eyes of candidates, customers, employees, and clients. Leverage content to clarify things like mission and values, which reinforce how the company sees itself. This will help to ensure that each new hire sticks around, and promotes a positive culture from within.
New hires are two times as likely to look for another opportunity following a negative onboarding experience, according to Digitate. Although compelling, it can be difficult to decide which part of this statistic you can act on, when constructing onboarding experiences. In trying to imbue your campaigns with more “positivity,” start by finding the points at which the process could be more positive for your internal teams. When do things get stressful or confusing? Where do communication breakdowns typically occur? How can you rethink the onboarding experience to make things easier and more sustainable for the entire company? Creating consistent, repeatable campaigns will free up the resources and team members that create great experiences for new employees, and ensure you continue to grow your talent pool for years to come.