Ready to Improve Your Onboarding Process – Where Do You Start?
Congratulations! You’ve successfully made a business case to get the resources to improve your onboarding process. And, as a result of demonstrating its compelling potential ROI, you even received upper management’s blessing to implement onboarding software to infuse technology into your new hire experience. So, you’re ready to get started…but where should you start?
In this blog, I’ll outline four key strategies for ensuring that your onboarding process change effort will result in marked improvement for your organization’s business outcomes.
1 – Get stakeholder buy-in
If it has been some time since you’ve examined your onboarding process and enacted changes, then now is the time to invite others to participate…those who haven’t previously been involved in the design of this critical new hire process. Modern onboarding calls for the inclusion and engagement of a wide variety of stakeholders, and by involving them from the early stages of process re-engineering, the probability of them carrying out onboarding tasks willingly and successfully later greatly increases.
Demonstrate how an improved framework for welcoming and acclimating new employees will benefit stakeholders. While you’ve already shown senior management how your planned key performance indicators will be positively influenced by the change, and therefore have a positive impact on business outcomes, your peers (other hiring managers and administrative employees) may not have heard your case yet. Show them the numbers…especially how they impact their respective department areas, if possible.
Department heads, in particular, should appreciate the new plan’s aim to reduce turnover and shorten time to productivity, as it should prevent them from spending as much time interviewing replacements in the future. Additionally, the use of employee onboarding software will automate reminder notifications so important process milestones aren’t forgotten (i.e. periodic progress meeting reminders, benefit enrollment meetings, alerts to request future training sessions). Take it a step further and build in opportunities to have conversations with new employees that further set expectations with them about job responsibilities and performance expectations.
Having a system in place that alleviates any concern about forgetting tasks removes the urgency for managers to tell a new employee every little thing in the first week. Avoid forcing new hires to “drink from the water hose” the first few days. As a result, realize the benefit of improved knowledge retention due to more digestible information sessions being spread out over a longer period of time. Allocate the time saved by automatic software notifications toward strategic elements of the onboarding process that make a new hire comfortable and more likely to stay with your business for years to come.
2 – Make it easy for upper management to support the effort
The hard part (that is, getting the blessing of senior directors) is behind you. However, to maximize the potential success of your new plan you still need their ongoing support. Make it easy for them to give that support by telling them how they can be helpful, and giving them the information they need to convey success. In doing so, make sure their public involvement in supporting your objectives is done in such a way that aligns your improved onboarding process with the company’s image and culture. For example, if your organization is somewhat transparent and regularly shares certain aspects of financial information and goal progress with employees, then share a dashboard of your onboarding process metrics with staff members, as well. Or, if your smaller business prides itself on personalized service (including thank you notes to new customers), then ask your CEO to send hand-written notes to new employees before their first day on the job.
Other ideas for visible senior management support include:
- public recognition of new employees via social media
- an email to the entire company from the president welcoming a new hire
- a 1-on-1 lunch with a new teammate during the first week on the job
- public acknowledgment of newly-hired employees during the next company meeting
3 – Note the importance of sound documentation
The greatest plans will fail to deliver if they aren’t recorded properly…particularly employee onboarding process checklists which have multiple moving parts. Start by researching and confirming the required paperwork that should be presented to a new employee. This will most certainly vary by country, state and even municipality if you operate in a number of different geographic locations. If you’re unsure of requirements, it’s always a good idea to involve a trusted employment law attorney.
Along with the required tax and employment eligibility paperwork based on your location and industry, document which other forms and policy acknowledgments should be included in your new hire packet(s), and how it will vary based by role, division and/or location of employee. Effective onboarding software should allow you to create many different new hire packets, and then automatically present the appropriate packet to a new employee within the onboarding dashboard based on his/her employment characteristics (again…role, division and location).
Next, assign stakeholders to responsibilities for each step of the onboarding process. Have conversations with these individuals so they have an opportunity to volunteer, consent, ask questions and/or decline based on their understanding of the assignment. During this exercise, map out how stakeholders’ assignment to different tasks within the onboarding process could affect a new employee’s onboarding experience. For example, don’t accidentally assign an individual in your corporate office to be the Form I-9 approver for new hires in your production plant two states away. If possible, have more than one individual available to handle certain types of onboarding roles so that each geographic area has an appointed person in all of the critical roles. However, if for example, new employee equipment orders are centralized in your corporate office, it’s okay to have a single person in that equipment provisioning role regardless of new employee location.
Brainstorm other onboarding tasks that could add value with your stakeholders. If they’ve not previously been involved in this group effort, you may be surprised about the innovative ideas they bring to the table. As you vet other tasks for potential inclusion, determine where they should fall in the process, and whether any other tasks should happen as prerequisites beforehand. Assign owners to each of these tasks, as well.
4 – Create an onboarding roadmap to communicate expectations
Take your documentation efforts a step further by creating a visual resource for both your process stakeholders, as well as your other teammates. Share this roadmap with your new hires before their first day on the job, as well. It is okay to have a pared down version of your regular roadmap for your newest employees.
Make a detailed version of this resource available as a handout for stakeholders, and if possible, have an attractive summary version posted as a banner on a wall inside your offices and/or on your intranet, as well. Its prominent appearance will be a constant reminder for all employees to support the onboarding process in order to make it successful.
Your roadmap might be as simple as a flowchart showing the order of tasks and time during which they are executed; or, it may be a chance to get more creative and literally illustrate the “road” to new hire success…complete with pit stops and task milestone markers along the way. What works for you will depend on the culture and resources available within your organization.
This visual representation sets expectations for all stakeholders and clearly depicts assigned responsibilities by person. It is a mechanism to document minimum accepted timeframes for task completion and therefore helps to bring context to the dashboard on which you track onboarding-related KPIs. In fact, consider including a roadmap milestone that documents how frequently you conduct lessons learned sessions with stakeholders, and check on KPIs.
The roadmap helps to make clear which employee onboarding tasks need to be addressed at what time, and this frequent familiarity with the onboarding process and KPI dashboard is key in demonstrating how process improvement does in fact drive business outcomes.
If you’re ready to include employee onboarding software as a critical driver in your organization’s process change efforts, please contact ExactHire to schedule a live demo today.
Image credit: Harvard University by Tim Green aka atoach (contact)