5 Ways to Improve the Employee Onboarding Process

Onboarding doesn't have to be dull and drawn out. The effective onboarding suggestions in this article will help improve new employee satisfaction and drive retention.

Organizations are looking to improve onboarding processes to improve oversight and productivity, but most critically to improve retention. Right now, half of all senior-level employees fail within 18 months of starting a new position. There is pressure to shift away from costly recruitment to improved retention practices, starting with onboarding.

Onboarding is the process of introducing hires to the important aspects of the company: its cultures, people, and practices. The process begins with many time-consuming activities to get an employee set up to work, but extends beyond that first day or week to include many critical activities to support employees for the long term. Research has shown that engaging onboarding programs can help retain 91% of first-year workers.

For many organizations, onboarding processes are not well defined and are subject to human error. Thus human error may mean an employee does not receive all the appropriate training materials, is given an inappropriate level of user access, or critical paperwork is incomplete. Overall, this leads to frustration, lost productivity, and compliance concerns.

In this post, we will share with you some key insights to improve employee onboarding.

Automate HR Processes

Onboarding has four levels, known in HR as “the Four C’s” - compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. For some organizations, onboarding through these four levels can take more than a year. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the initial stages of onboarding, which Twitter calls the “Yes to Desk” period: a 75-step (yes, 75) series that streamlines intake and handoffs between recruiting, HR, IT, and facilities.

Although you may not have a 75-step series that includes a bottle of wine and breakfast with the CEO, you can make your own checklist that streamlines employees through intake in a way that ensures they have everything they need to start:

  • Online employee contracts completed with e-signature capabilities to support compliance

  • Online or group training on the tools and systems relevant to their role

  • Creative welcome emails or videos to set the stage for your culture

  • Automate repetitive tasks in the onboarding process, including sending information on policy, benefits, expectations, and role information. You can also automate a cadence for check-ins, ensuring you are reaching out at critical intervals to support new hires

Device Provisioning

New employees come to your organization with high technology expectations for their workplace environment. Companies are being challenged to adapt to a digital workplace to enhance not just employee productivity, but also employee satisfaction and retention. Some organizations like to have devices waiting for employees, fully configured and ready to go. Others like to present the choice as part of the onboarding process with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and choose-your-own-device (CYOD) policies.

A corporate-owned device can typically be deployed quickly, but employee involvement is necessary for CYOD and BYOD environments. Clearly communicated device options and policies can help streamline the onboarding of new devices. Proper management of these initiatives not only drives IT efficiencies but can also improve employee satisfaction and retention.  For BYOD, look for an MDM platform that fully supports BYOD enrollment and zero-touch updates to keep devices up to date.

From the back end, you can smooth your onboarding process with flexible IT infrastructure that allows you to support a variety of device choices, operating systems, and different applications, which brings us to our next stage in the onboarding process: deployment.

Automated & Zero Touch Deployment

Deploying new systems to users has traditionally been a time-consuming and complex process, involving installing operating systems, settings, access configurations, encryption profiles, personalizations, and applications suited to particular user roles. For some organizations, this could mean deployment a full hands-on day - for only four devices.

With the right endpoint management tool, you can begin customizing devices as soon as they are ordered, building in all the settings, configurations, restrictions, and personalizations targeted to the user. Leveraging automated deployment processes, IT departments could experience productivity increases as high as 400% - with time to spare for other projects at the same time.

With some devices, you can provide a seamless out-of-box experience, handing out devices still in the shrinkwrap, with no need for your new hire to spend their first day getting “ready” to work.

“When we’re passing out a new workstation, it takes 15 minutes. Employees go to shake hands and take the tour, then come back to a fully configured device.” - Dan DeRusha, Matthews International

The Importance of Culture

Beyond the ins and outs of learning the job, a successful onboarding program will help employees get to know the corporate culture and key strategies of the business. Present information clearly and in digestible amounts and involve existing employees in supporting new hires, through meetings, mentorship, or welcome emails that introduce the whole team.  

At Zappos, the onboarding process clearly communicates 10 core values and the history behind those values. After one month, if an employee doesn’t feel they are a good fit for the company, Zappos offers them money to quit in order to protect and grow the company culture. Although this is a strong stance to be taking, this demonstrates the importance of providing deep-dive training on culture to ensure that employees are happy - knowing that happy employees are productive employees.

“The driving force behind the truly great companies... an unshakable sense that a company’s capacity to create economic value for its customers connects directly to its ability to create a sense of meaning and camaraderie for its people at every level of the organization.” - Bill Taylor, Cofounder of Fast Company, for Harvard Business Review

Set Clear Expectations

In many cases, expectations are at fault for unsuccessful onboarding processes. Employees come to their new jobs with certain expectations based on the job description and interview, only to be met with a different set of experiences once on the job.

As part of the onboarding process, go over the goals for the job with new hires, with regular progress check-ins over the coming weeks and months. Better yet, expand the discussion to career goals, helping your employees feel supported in their career path - not just their job.

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