24 October 2022 |

Your onboarding is costing you

By Hebba Youssef

Onboarding is the key to employee engagement:

Do you remember that feeling the night before the first day of school? I know I was not the only one that got excited before that first day.

Spoiler alert: I was not in the cool crowd. 

I still get that feeling right before I start a new job. The sheer excitement of something new and simultaneous fear of the unknown. 

What can amplify that excitement and take away the fear? 

One word: onboarding. 

Onboarding is one of the most important moments of a new employee’s journey and yet the part I see so many companies completely fumble. 

Raise your hand if you’ve been on the receiving end of a frantic Slack on a Friday about a new hire starting on Monday and the manager claims to have forgotten. Onboarding is oftentimes treated as an afterthought, just something HR does to make a new hire’s first day nice. 

But, onboarding and engagement are intertwined with onboarding having a major impact on employee engagement. Without comprehensive onboarding how are employees supposed to feel connected to an organization’s mission? 

If you think about it, most problems that arise later in an employee’s journey could be traced back to onboarding. 

BRB spiraling and over analyzing every employee issue I’ve encountered. 

Why onboarding matters:

From the second an offer gets signed up until the 90 day mark, what a new hire experiences is crucial for their success and engagement. 

Don’t believe me?

A strong onboarding experience can:

  • improve new hire retention by 82% 
  • improve new hire productivity by 70% 
  • result in an 18x commitment to the organization 
  • result in 91% more connectedness at work

Pre-pandemic onboarding had a different look and feel. It was easier to build connections with new employees when you can meet them in-person. Welcome lunches and happy hours provided ample opportunities to build strong relationships. They were staples of an onboarding experience! 

But, when we had to pivot to a remote world our ability to connect at work suffered, especially for new hires. In the remote world, it can feel really isolating and lonely to join a company.

I’ve onboarded remotely twice and I can honestly say, it isn’t the same. 

Employees feeling connected to each other and their companies is crucial for engagement. When employees feel that they are connecting, they feel like they belong and that feeling is SO VERY powerful. 

Right now, we’re witnessing overall employee engagement going down. 

If engagement is going down, maybe we’re bad at onboarding?

Well, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their onboarding process is great. 

3 tips to ensure your onboarding is successful:

📣📣 Onboarding is not just the HR/People team’s jobs!

Me again, reminding everyone that not EVERYTHING is HR’s responsibility. In fact, the responsibility of onboarding also falls to the direct manager.

But from what i’ve observed, companies get this wrong. 

Here are 3 tips to improve your onboarding:

  1. Define your culture, mission and vision: What exactly are employees doing here and why does it matter? 

Write it down and put it somewhere your new employees can reference when they have questions. 

Pro tip: put it in a welcome email to the new hire for their first day. It’s a nice touch! 

Here are some examples to jump start your thinking. 

  1. Have a plan for the first 30, 60, 90 days. Work with the hiring manager on this plan – they will know best on some of these details! 

Whatever you create, make a template that can be reused by other managers.  

What to cover: 

  • Day 1: paperwork, resources, systems, company culture, mission, vision, manager / team intros    
  • Week 1: continue team meet and greets, role and expectation setting, manager working relationship, start setting goals
  • Month 1:  priorities, integration to the team, projects and task ownership, goal alignment, career development discussions 
  • Month 2: priorities, feedback around work, successes, goals check in, career goals 
  • Month 3: priorities, feedback around work, successes, goals check in, career goals

There’s so much more I want to say about the first 90 days so be on the lookout for that as a full edition of IHIH. For now, this resource is helpful. 

  1. Survey: the first 30, 60, 90 days should conclude with a survey at each milestone.  While that feels like a lot of surveys, this time is the most crucial to get right! If something is not going well at the 30 day mark, you still have the opportunity to make some improvements. 

My favorite questions to ask:

  • I know what is expected of me 
  • I have the resources I need to successfully do my job
  • I understand the company culture 
  • My goals are clearly defined 
  • My manager has set expectations about my role  

This question bank has many many more!

I know this barely scratches the surface of onboarding. Each of these deserves a full IHIH send and it will probably get one! 

If you were to take away one thing: if you have low engagement instead of throwing another happy hour pause and take a look at your onboarding and your managers!