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The power of a great onboarding process

Article by Charlotte Burton-Barker

Onboarding, the process of getting newly employed team members integrated and embedded into the organisation, has a big impact on employee experience. With 1 in 25 employees leaving a business right after joining and 1 in 10 employees citing a poor onboarding process as part of their reason for leaving, mastering the onboarding experience is essential for a successful organisation. The onboarding experience provides a safe space for employees to learn more about the company, build networks in the organisation and upskill in core competencies. It may sound simple but a report from Gallup showed that only 12% of organisations believe their onboarding process works effectively. In the Programmes team at Wiser we believe that there are three core factors which contribute to a great onboarding experience. In this article I explain why each component is important and how you can leverage these to enhance your company’s onboarding approach. 

Connections – Social psychology has highlighted a sense of belonging as a key intrinsic motivator and so it makes sense that the first step to ensuring your new hire settles into the business well is making them feel connected. This connection should be to both other employees and to the business. It is human nature to thrive on connection and so the earlier you can start creating these touchpoints for employees the better. The pre-boarding stage is a great opportunity to show your new employee what your business is all about, put your values into action in the way that you engage with them and give them opportunities to interact with current team members. Providing your new employee with this positive first impression increases employee success. Once they are in the organisation this connection should continue providing them spaces to build relationships with other team members and meet with people across the business. Buddy systems, meet-the-team sessions, and time for new joiners to get to know each other are all useful tools in dialling up this element of connection. Finally, carving out space for your new joiners to meet senior leaders across the business builds their sense of belonging and helps them to feel like valued members of the team. 

Development – The first few weeks spent in a new role are a critical learning period. Your new employees should build the technical and professional skills they need to thrive in the organisation during this time. Development in this period comes in a number of forms and to have a top-class onboarding it is important to consider and build in space for each of these. Firstly, in terms of technical development specific role-based training is essential whether this is done with their manager, online or in a class-room based learning session. Moreover, shadowing and learning on the job will be essential for getting them up to speed technically – with 70% of learning happening through experience, making sure you build the time for this element of onboarding is critical. These first few weeks also provide an opportunity to help people build the behaviours and skills that are ingrained within your culture. Purpose and values sessions delivered in classroom based learning sessions not only give your new hires a space to upskill but also allow you to tap into the building connections element of onboarding. With learning opportunities being higher on employee priority lists than ever before, building engaging training experiences into the onboarding process demonstrates your commitment to learning and sets a precedent for what’s to come.

A seamless approach – Your new employees already have a lot on their minds. So the final core factor in creating a successful onboarding process is making it easy. Developing an onboarding process that you use consistently will help you to master this element on the onboarding (never underestimate the power of a good process). Part of creating this seamless experience will involve letting people know ahead of time what is going to happen during their onboarding experience and giving them a key contact so they know they have someone who they can ask any niggling questions. Additionally, providing one space where employees can access all the key information they need makes a real difference whether that is dress code, expenses rules or the company values – lay them out in an easy to access and engaging document to give your new hires the reassurance that when they (inevitably) forget something they’ve been told in the first week of their role they have somewhere to go and check. 

Providing high quality onboarding has never been more essential, this stage in the employee lifecycle provides the perfect opportunity to engage your new hires. Connection, development and a seamless approach in your onboarding go a long way in helping you retain and engage your employees so make sure to consider each when building out your processes. 

    Charlotte is the Programmes Manager at Wiser, where she builds and develops Early Talent Development Programmes to ensure organisation's get the best from their Graduates, Apprentices and Early Talent cohorts. Her background is in Organisational Psychology and she uses her knowledge in this area to inform the design and delivery of her work.

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