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Your guide to building an onboarding program that inspires success

August 18, 2016
Borderless Leadership

You’ve worked tirelessly to get your company on its feet, and your efforts are finally paying off.

The organization is growing, and profits are going up. There’s just one problem: Employee retention. You can’t seem to keep new hires for more than six months.

Developing an onboarding program will help remedy the employee turnover.

Onboarding, also called organizational socialization, is the process of acclimating a new hire to the companies’ brand, values, culture, expectations and working methods.

It builds a support network for a new hire during their crucial first few weeks on the job.

Research shows that a good onboarding program can boost retention by 50 percent and productivity by 54 percent. That being said, onboarding is a complicated process: It takes a lot of planning to make the experience meaningful. What follows is a guide to help you plan a truly inspiring program.

1. Onboarding vs. Training
When planning your program, remember that onboarding is different from job training. In fact, training should be viewed as a facet of the onboarding process. Telling an employee where to park, what tools to use for their job and how to run the copier won’t help them feel comfortable with coworkers or their position.

Take the time to integrate employees from all levels into the training process. The purpose is two-fold: The new hire will get a wider pool of knowledge, and they will meet more coworkers than they would have otherwise.

2. Make It Easy
Put yourself in the hire’s shoes. You’ve been through a lot of preparation and stressful interviews. You’ve finally got the job, and now you have to work extremely hard to prove to the boss that you’re worth it.

Doing the right prep work can not only make a new hire’s life easier, it will greatly improve their mood and productivity. Before their first day, focus on getting the little things together. Send them all the documents HR needs ahead of time, so no time is wasted on the first day. Make sure their desk, computer and email are set up. Stock the desk with pens, paper, helpful manuals and a name plate.

Making these preparations ahead of time will make the new hire’s life a bit easier during their critical first few weeks. Preparing the space ahead of time will also show them that you are aware of their skills and are eager for them to start training right away.

3. Work Together
An important part of the onboarding program is to continue building rapport with the new hire after their initial training. Take the time to sit down and talk about their position within the company and relation to the company’s core values. Discuss their goals, personal or otherwise. Try to develop a strategy to help the employee down the path to improvement.

This will help the employee see that the company truly values their efforts and talents. Helping them reach their goals will also show them that they are valued as a person and not just a cog in a machine.

4. Socialize
It’s one thing to get along with the new hire one-on-one. It’s another to help them integrate with coworkers. Only 32 percent of organizers think to provide their new employees with ways to meet others within the company.

Encouraging networking will make new hires more comfortable and connected. They will be less afraid to ask questions or seek advice from coworkers if they are friendly with each other. This will lead to the employee wasting less time trying to figure out difficult parts of the job themselves. The more comfortable they are with coworkers, the more open an employee will be to asking or receiving help from them. To help the process along, consider organizing some group lunches, or have the new hire shadow different employees outside of their main work area.

5. Keep It Up Over Time
The last and most important thing to remember when building your onboarding program is that it must be a continuous process. Onboarding programs shouldn’t stop after the first few months. Studies have shown that extending your program to at least a year can boost retention by 25 percent.

By extending the process, you reinforce and build on all the early work done with the employee. While they won’t be in training any longer, the continued work will remind them that they are a valued member of the company.

Taking the time and energy to build an onboarding plan will help your company grow more over time. Though effective onboarding requires planning at least a year ahead, it is well worth it. Investing time into building meaningful relationships with new hires will pay for itself in savings due to stronger retention.

By Sarah Landrum


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