10 Best Onboarding Experience Strategies for Your 2020 Hires
Employee experience begins from day one, right from the onboarding stage. In this article, we discuss the key trends in onboarding experiences and offer 10 examples of great onboarding experiences that companies worldwide offer their employees. Table of Contents
Is Your Onboarding Strategy on Point?
How to Improve the Onboarding Experience: 10 Strategies to Remember
Avoid These Pitfalls When Onboarding in 2020: The way Forward
Is Your Onboarding Strategy on Point Having a stellar onboarding experience is critical to employee retention. According to research by Jobvite, a significant portion of your new hires is likely to quit in just 90 days after joining their role. This makes the onboarding experience a key differentiator in how they perceive a company, engage with the job, and stay involved (or not) with your business objectives. And here are a few more metrics that drive home the need for a smart onboarding experience strategy. These findings are from a SilkRoad Technology report titled U.S. Trends and Applications in Employee Onboarding, published earlier in 2019:
65% of employees say that an onboarding program helps to prepare for the next step in their career trajectory
Organizations with a clearly outlined onboarding process enjoy 82% higher new employee retention, as well as a 70% uptick in productivity
The average recruit must go through 54 different activities as part of their onboarding experience, suggesting a marked degree of complexity
As we approach 2020, it is time to rethink the onboarding experience with a focus on candidate engagement and long-term retention. Remember, the lessons learned and the impressions made during these early days will be critical in determining whether top talent decides to stay on with your company. An intelligent onboarding experience strategy, informed by a set of key best practices, will help you maximize each new resource that becomes part of your workforce. Let’s look at how to improve the onboarding experience in 2020, with trends and examples to illustrate the way forward. How to Improve the Onboarding Experience: 10 Strategies to Remember The worlds leading companies are now squarely focused on delivering the best onboarding experiences possible. Interestingly, this goes beyond the offer acceptance and joining stage from the moment a candidate seriously considers your organization as a potential employer, you should focus on having a candidate relationship management strategy that translates into a stellar onboarding experience. Here are ten tips to help improve your onboarding experience in 2020, minimizing early attrition and disengagement risks.
10 ways to improve the onboarding experienceFig 1. 10 ways to improve the onboarding experience for your new hires
1. Make learning & development (L&D) central to the onboarding experience Onboarding is all about equipping a recruit to bring their very best to a workplace from day one. If they spend weeks or even months familiarizing themselves with your company, exploring self-service capabilities, and figuring out how to complete routine tasks, they are being far less productive than they can be. This is why L&D is vital for an enriched onboarding experience learning modules on essential software, short one-on-one sessions with a line manager, and pre-recorded videos on company values/ethics can go a long way in helping recruits overcome their teething troubles. For example, U.S.-based Hormel Foods Corporation adopted this strategy to redesign onboarding experiences in 2019. It deployed a gamified platform called Discovery Map to allow new hires to learn information about the company quickly. This earned them the Silver Stevie Award in the Achievement in New Employee Onboarding category in 2019 as one of the best onboarding experiences. 2. Find innovative ways to inspire collaboration Theres no way around it. Collaboration is the cornerstone of engagement, and by inspiring recruits to collaborate with the workforce from day one, you can substantially improve the onboarding experience. There are many ways to do this. For example, by scheduling an “Onboarding Day” every month/two months depending on the size of your company, you can urge recruits to talk, share insights, and resolve any concerns they may have about their future workplace. For single-recruit onboarding experiences, you can invite participation from various stakeholders across the company, including team leads, vertical heads, and even C-level executives. Problem-solving exercises, quizzes, and questionnaires are a great way to embed collaboration into your onboarding experience. One of the best onboarding experiences that leverages this collaborative model is practiced by Pinterest. The companys Knit SF onboarding strategy follows the principles of knitting using the term to refer to the collaboration of people across the organization during the onboarding process. Activities like peer-to-peer icebreakers, candid chats with cross-disciplinary team leaders, and joining the companys Slack thread fall under this Knit SF framework. New hires are taken through all the departments of the organization to understand how each function. It also helps that despite having offices across the world, all new hires at Pinterest begin their onboarding experience at the San Francisco headquarters. 3. Drive hiring managers to take greater ownership of the onboarding process Because the onboarding experience involves multiple stakeholders across the company, theres always the risk that hiring managers may overlook a few key details. This challenge is compounded by the fact that onboarding is only one component of a hiring manager’s daily itinerary. An excellent way to address this is by creating onboarding checklists that clearly lay out all the steps required to improve the onboarding experience. Organizational leaders can work together with the internal marketing team to schedule email updates that inform and inspire hiring managers to take ownership. For example, Google sends a manager just in time onboarding checklists to assist with the onboarding experience. The company shares this list only 24 hours before the recruits arrival, ensuring a sense of immediacy and urgency. Some of these tasks on this list include having discussions with the new hire, assigning them a peer buddy, building a social network, setting up regular check-ins, and having transparent dialogues to identify how they feel about working there. With only one day to prepare, the manager is more likely to remember and focus on each component. This small change to Google’s onboarding experience strategy improved results from onboarding by 25%. 4. Integrate all the touchpoints on the employee onboarding journey As mentioned, the typical employee must go through numerous activities and protocols before they can complete the onboarding process. This can sometimes be a fragmented experience, lowering the recruit’s capability to remember and act on the information gained during onboarding. Integration of onboarding touchpoints such as L&D, admin, compliance, and workforce management could help to improve the onboarding experience significantly. For example, instead of providing multiple hard copies for photographs for documentation, and then receiving an employee ID, the recruit can take a selfie or share a digital photo thats reused across various departments. Not only does this dramatically cut down the onboarding timeline, but it also enhances the overall quality of experience. Dell Boomi recognized the impact of this onboarding experience strategy after surveying its employees last year. It found that 74% of the workforce didn’t receive a laptop on day one, and it took an average of 92 days before gaining access to key applications and information. So, the company developed an Onboarding Solution Accelerator that could resolve fragmentation in onboarding experiences by leveraging remote access, mobile competencies, and automation. Thanks to what is one of the best onboarding experiences we have seen so far, Dell saved 3.4 hours in admin effort per recruit and $5,600 in annual costs. 5. Initiate the onboarding experience before the recruit steps into the office Every recruiter has undoubtedly come across this scenario: after a rigorous screening process and negotiations, the offer is rolled out and accepted. But the recruit changes their mind a few days before the joining date. This leads to massive sunk costs and overall inefficiency in your talent acquisition pipeline. To address this, it is crucial to extend the onboarding experience beyond the office premises. By engaging with the recruit immediately after the offer acceptance, you can alleviate everyday worries (commute, career progressions, diversity, etc.) and ensure that they do not look for greener pastures elsewhere. Thats why pre-boarding is now among the top onboarding experience strategies for employers across the globe. When a high-tech electronics firm saw that an increasing number of recruits were dropping off after receiving an offer, they started thinking about how to improve the onboarding experience for their new hires. One of the measures it took was designing a pre-boarding package that was mailed to the employees home address. It included a company video, testimonials by future colleagues, and detailed descriptions of the benefits they could expect at the company. Onboarding experience best practices like this ensure that a recruit stays engaged with your organization until every formality has been completed. 6. Analyze the unique needs of varying recruit demographics This is one of the key steps to improving your onboarding experience not every recruit will come with similar expectations, and the onboarding experience cannot follow a one-size-fits-all model. There may be instances where engagement and community building should be at the forefront of the onboarding process. In other cases, the experience should ideally pivot around the exchange and dissemination of information. Employers should conduct pre-boarding surveys to detect these requirements early on, ensuring that the onboarding experience is in line with the recruits individualized expectations. KPMG Belgium demonstrated a great example of this onboarding experience strategy in action. The organization hires 170 graduates every year, in addition to 150 experienced hires. KPMG leveraged a combination of pre-boarding practices, content delivery systems, and process automation to improve the onboarding experience for these two unique categories. Given that the cost of replacing a new graduate recruit could run up to 80% of their annual salary, you must try to deliver the best possible onboarding experience to these young, ambitious professionals. 7. Explore onboarding models for temporary and seasonal workers The quality of the onboarding experience is as important for your temporary and seasonal workers as it is for employees joining the permanent company payroll. For sectors such as media and entertainment, retail, and healthcare, the contingent workforce takes up a large part of their onboarding investments. A more efficient and optimized experience in this segment can help to deliver better results and save costs. It isn’t enough to have temporary and seasonal workers sign an offer and join the job these are individuals who will be advocates for your employer brand, who can effectively promote it to hire more workers even urgently if needed. A paper-based non-experience-focused onboarding journey brings down the possibility of a temporary worker choosing to work for you a second time around. The Boy Scouts of America (Denver) offers one of the best onboarding experiences to its massive group of seasonal workers who join every year to staff their summer camp. The company initially had a paper-driven, manual process where HR would go through every file to identify returning staff and create new folders for fresh recruits. This process took weeks to complete. Boy Scouts of America recently switched to an automated onboarding process that doesn’t require recruits to be physically present to furnish the paperwork. Owing to this new onboarding experience, the organization saved 48+ hours in admin efforts and ensured a happier contingent workforce. 8. Harmonize onboarding experiences across multiple locations Providing a consistent onboarding experience has always been a challenge for global/large-scale companies. Once the recruitment process and offer rollout are over, regional offices follow their own practices until the recruit joins the organization. This could lead to a fragmented experience, dependent on the interest and expertise level of local HR managers. To achieve the same level of success across locations, it is essential to formulate a clear onboarding experience roadmap with strategic checks and balances in place. This will also make it easier to introduce changes/upgrades to your onboarding model without requiring any major overhaul at each location. Global beverages company Bacardi provides a great example of this onboarding strategy at work. Previously, Bacardi struggled with a different experience at each site, risking inefficient onboarding journeys at locations that were understaffed. To improve the onboarding experience, the company now uses pulse surveys to share and collect data over a 90-day welcome period. A buddy system and mandatory training are the other components of Bacardis global onboarding process, which creates a seamless onboarding experience no matter where employees join the company. 9. Blend employee onboarding with continuous learning The transition from the onboarding process (which can last from anywhere between two days and three months) to on-the-job practice, must be seamless. It can be beneficial to measure employee skills at the time of joining and map how it improves over time via onboarding as well as continuous learning. The concept of strategic onboarding involves the continuous onboarding of employees a long-term strategy to keep employees engaged and relevant for new positions within the company. It can even prepare them for leadership positions in the future. This can help you boost productivity and help employees reach their professional targets faster. OShea Builders uses this onboarding tactic to raise the quality of talent in the organization over time. At OShea, onboarding and career development are part of the same process, guiding each employee through organizational and career goals. This is broken down into a two-part onboarding process, where the first deals with new hire training and the second ask employees to define specific development goals for themselves. Thanks to customizable workflows and trackable progress, 83% of employees at OShea Builders reported they were very satisfied with the onboarding and career development experience at the company. 10. Factor in off-boarding requirements right at the time of onboarding With the average employment tenure gradually shrinking, your off-boarding numbers are likely to go up over the years. And the impressions made during this crucial part of the employee journey will determine if they return to your company, refer their acquaintances, and present your employer brand on social media. It is advisable to take the data gathered during onboarding to frame an individualized off-boarding strategy. Apart from standard procedures in compliance and admin areas, pulse surveys, one-on-one conversations, and a discussion on future opportunities are critical to off-boarding. For example, email automation startup Mailigen places off-boarding at the heart of its employee-centric culture. The company realized that ineffective off-boarding could result in sizeable costs, as rehiring an ex-employee is often better for business than looking for a new one. Thats why Mailigen treats the employee journey like any other relationship, where the organization must take care of first impressions, regular interactions, as well as the closure to ensure the employer brand is maintained. This is in addition to following the other onboarding experience strategies listed above, including integration, collaboration, and an unwavering eye on engagement. Learn More: Top 10 Employee Onboarding Software Solutions for 2020 Avoid These Pitfalls When Onboarding in 2020 There are still a lot of wrinkles to be ironed out when it comes to improving onboarding experiences. Research by ServiceNow found that nearly a quarter of employees receive no clear onboarding, and the company didn’t note that it was an employee’s first day in one out of ten cases. If you’re eager to learn how to improve onboarding experiences and deliver the best onboarding experience to your 2020 recruits, make sure to avoid these common pitfalls:
No alignment between onboarding and the reality of the job
Giving the recruit full ownership for the first day, with zero handholding
Setting performance benchmarks that become active without a transition period
Information overload and exposure to a high number of technology platforms
So these are among the top onboarding experience strategies that belong on your radar as you look forward to a new year, marked by hiring success and continued engagement. As exemplified by these ten companies with the best onboarding experiences, the early days of an employees journey are probably the most formative, setting up the groundwork for a productive tenure at your company. What measures have you taken to improve onboarding experiences in 2020? Tell us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. We would love to hear all about it!