The modern workplace has become an increasingly fluid concept. The days of people finding a job with a company out of college and sticking with it for the next 30-odd years are behind us. New technologies have initiated a shift, which has been transforming the way people find work and the way companies hire new people.
This new changing workplace has also forced the hand of employers who have been growing complacent for decades, making them realize that in this new world, employees need more than just a steady paycheck and the holidays off. In this new reality, certain time-tested HR practices such as onboarding cannot be ignored, even by the tiniest, most chaotic startups in the world.
Onboarding, also called induction in some parts of the world, is a process through which the employer welcomes a new hire to the company. It entails taking care of the paperwork, introducing the new employee to their future responsibilities and rights, training them and ensuring that they are accepted by their colleagues.
The ultimate goal of onboarding is much more calculated than putting a smile on a new hire’s face; do not be fooled. And this is exactly what this article is about – the reasons why all companies should pay attention to their onboarding processes, for their own good.
Reducing Employee Turnover
The jury is still out on whether we live in the age of diminishing employee loyalties, but one thing is definitely not up for debate – the devastating effects of high employee turnover rate. If a company experiences too many employees leaving to find other employment, this can have dire effects on the company’s bottom line.
Numerous studies have shown that a structured and well-executed onboarding process can reduce employee turnover rates. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, for example, employees are 69% more likely to stay with a company for 3 or more years if they have been onboarded properly.
Considering how costly employee turnover is, onboarding becomes a necessity.
For smaller companies and startups, employee turnover is an even bigger problem, because they are losing someone who knows the chaotic ins and outs of such a company, someone who cannot be replaced with someone else that easily.
It can take a while before a new hire becomes productive. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, it usually takes a new hire 8 months before they reach their full productivity. With a standardized and comprehensive onboarding process, this can be shortened dramatically as the new employee receives proper training and orientation.
Besides training the new employee in everything they will need to do their job, this is also a great time to teach them some industry basics. For example, if they are going to be in sales, this is the perfect time to teach them about the 5 emails they should never send to customers. If they are to work in marketing, the onboarding days should also feature a bit of abstract thinking and brainstorming, just to make sure the new employee is using their full capacity.
There are two big factors in play here and the first one is the duration of the onboarding process. For many companies, it rarely goes beyond the first month. This is a mistake, because longer onboarding processes (their intensity reduces over time, of course) yield better results.
The second factor is setting formal goals and targets for new employees. More than half of companies do not set any milestones and targets and this results in a somewhat loose and less-than-perfectly-productive onboarding process, where new hires do not benefit from it as much as they could.
Startups operate with such slim margins of error that they cannot afford employees who require eight months to become really productive. For them, turning new hires into productive ones as quickly as possible is especially important.
Having Happier Employees
There are a billion reasons why a startup would want their employees to be happy (among other reasons, once again, productivity) and they all help the organization become more successful at whatever it is doing.
Well, when it comes to making employees happy and engaged, onboarding can be of huge help. It sets the tone for the rest of their career with the company and it leads to higher organizational commitment, job satisfaction and lowered stress.
It is not that difficult to see why this is the case. An onboarding process helps ease the new hire into the company culture and other people in the company. Onboarding will also provide them with a toolset that will allow them to pull their own weight from the very start, which is actually one of the most effective ways to improve employee retention.
Startups usually feature very tightly-woven culture and penetrating such a culture without a bit of help can be somewhat daunting. Onboarding provides all the help that the new employee will need and it increases the chances of them fitting in no matter their personality.
For startups and other smaller companies, employee burnout and stress can be painfully present, especially for new hires who are expected to somehow magically know everything and everyone in their new workplace.
Onboarding does away with these unrealistic expectations and eases new hires into these often chaotic companies. In addition to this, onboarding also helps the people who already work for the startup to welcome their new colleague gradually and to mitigate their initial expectations that can be somewhat demanding.
As much as onboarding helps the new hire, it also helps the existing startup employees get used to them in a more pleasant atmosphere.
There is a lot to like about onboarding and no company can afford to be without a structured process of welcoming new hires to their fold. Moreover, thanks to new technologies, companies can now do a perfectly decent onboarding process online, which brings us back full circle to the modern workplace.
Even the most modern and paradigm-shifting workplace can and should involve onboarding.