During a time when companies are struggling to recruit and retain talent, establishing a robust onboarding process for new hires is instrumental. A well-structured and comprehensive process is vital for new employees to effectively acclimate themselves into their new role, learning more about their job duties, available resources, and the organizational culture. Employee engagement, motivation, productivity, and whether they succeed or leave to pursue other opportunities are all influenced by their onboarding experience.
The previous few years have seen a slew of unexpected challenges and changes to the world as we know it. The rise of hybrid and remote work has altered the recruitment and onboarding experience. Despite its advantages, remote work has its pitfalls. The difficulty remains: acclimating new hires to a company and its culture when teams are together in person less regularly.
What is onboarding, and why is it important?
Onboarding is the process of introducing newly hired employees into an organization. Also known as organizational socialization, onboarding is critical in helping employees effortlessly integrate with the rest of the firm and learn more about their new role and its requirements. The extent and duration of this period can vary for every business; however, for it to be as effective and successful as possible, managers should proactively onboard new hires for their first year. After the process is completed, employees should feel secure and comfortable in their role and within the organization.
An exceptional onboarding experience can help reduce employee turnover. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. In contrast, statistics from Click Boarding conclude that 69% of employees are more likely to remain with a company for three years if they have a positive onboarding experience. Employees leaving the workforce can be costly, putting strain on company resources and finance. A detailed and personalized onboarding experience provides a solid ground for developing the employment relationship.
A positive onboarding experience can help with the following:
- Employee engagement
- Staff retention
- Job satisfaction
- Improved company culture
In-person vs remote onboarding
Remote onboarding differs significantly from the traditional in-person process. On the first day of work, face-to-face meetings, handshakes, and a dedicated workstation are replaced with an IT kit at your door and back-to-back zoom meetings. The delivery of orientation during remote onboarding is primarily accomplished using video calls, PowerPoint presentations, pre-recorded videos, or email. Although these methods are convenient and cost-effective, they must catch up in one crucial area: connection and culture. When virtual interactions replace in-person ones, there is a higher level of disconnection among employees, which can harm company culture. Remote onboarding can be beneficial in specific scenarios. For example, if employees are hired for a fully remote position or there is little interaction between departments, an in-person onboarding experience may not be necessary.
- Time management is in the hands of the employee
- Limited engagement
- Harder to create connections
- Fewer opportunities to reach out for help
- Easier to fall through the cracks because managers are not able to actively see performance
- Harder to understand company culture and norms
Although hybrid and remote work has grown in popularity, an in-person approach to onboarding a new hire has several advantages. There is something to be said about the natural rhythm of being in person. It’s more responsive, there’s more room for questioning, and it feels more natural and personal. During our latest TenantTalks event, Alan Cosgrave, managing partner at MNP, stated, “when a junior newcomer joins the team, there is an extra effort to do onboarding in person.” In-person onboarding allows the new hire to spend time with the rest of the staff, not just their team but other people they likely wouldn’t get a chance to meet virtually.
Data has shown that students joining the workforce during the pandemic are about 12 months behind where we would expect them to be if they had been coming into the office. There is more to learn about the role and the company than what is described in presentations and pamphlets. Learning and development, knowledge transfer, and mentorship play a prominent role in onboarding. Furthermore, during onboarding, managers should focus on cutting down on new hires’ administrative duties and increasing time spent on performance coaching and creating connections. Recent hires also need opportunities to form workplace relationships with their managers, peers, and key stakeholders.
- Employees gain a better sense of company culture from the start
- More relationship-building opportunities
- The ability to ask additional questions with scheduling a meeting or requesting a video call
- EThe company can physically see how the onboarding/ training process is going
- Can cause information overload
- In a hybrid office, it can be hard to replicate the experience because not everyone will be in the office
Onboarding is a critical step in developing and integrating a new employee. In-person onboarding provides several advantages compared to a remote experience. In-person onboarding allows for a more in-depth introduction to the team and allows new hires to connect with their team and the company at large. When onboarding is done thoroughly, and with preparation, employees thrive within the organization and are more confident in their role.
It is important to note that onboarding and training are not a one size fits all process. Some people can assimilate into the culture and pick up their job fast, but that does not mean that leadership can forget about them. Managers must stay on top of that connection and ensure that new hires are doing okay for the first year. Having an individualized approach is essential because what works for one person may not work for another. Everyone has different learning styles, and other preferences, in terms of the way they work.