People & Leadership

Key components of a successful employee onboarding experience

Before employers can even begin to think about putting a new hire to work, it’s essential that they run an onboarding program to help newbies get acclimated to their work environment.

However, it’s crucial that businesses don’t equate onboarding with mere orientation training. While the latter provides new hires with the most basic of details on their new surroundings and job requirements, a true onboarding program accomplishes much more with an eye turned toward the long term.

An effective and refined onboarding strategy may prove to be one of the most integral factors that go into securing company success, generating a positive return on employee investment, and ensuring the workforce is knowledgeable and motivated.

The key to implementing a beneficial onboarding program lies in understanding the needs of new employees and balancing that with what the company wants to achieve through greater employee engagement and talent management. While it may seem like a banal chore to employers, with consideration of the talent gap in mind, advanced onboarding strategies have never been more important.

How to conduct an employee onboarding program

Even though onboarding programs have evolved to become a more valuable employee engagement tool, recently, the basis for such initiatives is still drawn from fundamental introductory steps that employers have taken for ages.

These include simple actions like familiarizing new employees with coworkers and colleagues they’ll interact with on a daily basis, ensuring they have completed vital HR and employment verification documents, and raising awareness about company benefits. Creating a drop-in schedule to check in on progress during the hire’s first days, week, and month with the organization can also help.

But these are common steps to take that HR can do in its sleep; while they constitute the basic workings of an onboarding program, they do not represent the crux of a successful one. That added value lies in the strategic elements employers incorporate into their existing regimen.

For example, two guiding principles to a tactful onboarding program are folding the new employee into the corporate culture in order to foster talent development and utilizing the transition as a means to generating a return on employee investment that benefits both employee and employer in the long term.

There are several different ways in which that objective can be accomplished, like introducing the employee to the brand in an informal and educational manner. In order for employees to strengthen their brand through work, they must first know it like the back of their hand. By simply discussing brand image, integrity, profile, vision, and mission, employers can engage new hires and sufficiently immerse them in the brand and prepare them for meaningful work in the field.

New tech strategies boost onboarding effectiveness

HR software solutions that automate payroll and other functions aren’t the only technological advancements that have spurred innovation; increasingly, employers have turned to social media in order to welcome new hires and familiarize them with the company, its people, and its culture.

Especially considering the influx of millennial generation talent into the workforce, social media has become a primary channel for onboarding at forward-thinking organizations.

The benefits of social media-integrated onboarding structures are many. Employers and employees are afforded an interactive, personable, and casual environment in which to interact and build relationships with one another. Social media use also helps streamline processes and communications and makes new hires feel welcome and appreciated, which primes them to deliver to their fullest.

“If you want to enable those new hires to make a difference as soon as possible and fit into the culture of the company, go social: Give them the kinds of communication tools they are already using outside work,” Karie Willyerd wrote for a recent Harvard Business Review article on social and onboarding.

Onboarding needs to reflect your company goals

Even though the onboarding process may be dismissed as a routine training program or taken lightly because of the honeymoon-esque feel to it, in order for it to be successful, it must reflect the goals and aspirations of the company.

This new and improved onboarding has become a major strength to employers, which have seen results when aligning the process with organizational objectives.

A recent investigation into the process of advanced onboarding published in the MIT Sloan Management Review outlined some of the ways companies can engage employees while still focusing on the company as a whole.

For instance, connecting with employees and discussing their own identity and strengths and skills as people can benefit both employer and employee. The latter is happy because he or she feels valued as a talent asset and not a mere cog in a machine, while the former benefits from gleaning greater insight into the employee’s abilities and motivation, which can be applied in future initiatives.

Research, experience, and just about every sign there is a point to a new age of onboarding wherein employers and employees are holistically more supportive and interactive. Better onboarding leads to better recruiting, retention, and return on employee investment. Advanced onboarding strategies are proven tactics, ones increasingly important to the overall success and well-being of the business and the employee.