360° Onboarding - Davies

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360° Onboarding

How do you make sure your company stands out and gives them an experience worth staying for? 

Let’s get real: candidates often accept more than one job offer, so how do you make sure your company stands out and gives them an experience worth staying for? 

Onboarding is the time when that recruit will make up their mind about giving your business a chance. It’s a two-way street where both parties assess each other’s suitability and, in today’s candidate-driven market, this can be an expensive exercise. If your onboarding experience doesn’t meet the new hire’s expectation, they will ultimately seek that in a competitor.  

During onboarding, effective leadership involves clear communication to convey company values and expectations, fostering a positive organisational culture that entices, welcomes and engages new starters. Leaders must therefore embody your business’s values to set the tone, shaping a cohesive work environment that aligns with organisational goals. 

Recruitment can be costly, particularly when job adverts, psychometric tests, agency fees, HR/Talent acquisition teams’ time and temporary staff bills, as well as other expenses, are considered. According to the CIPD, the price tag of onboarding a new employee hovers around the £6000 mark, although this varies depending on job seniority and industry. So, how do you get the best return on investment (ROI) from your onboarding experience? 

Start from the beginning

Sounds like a given, but onboarding starts long before the individual joins a company. Consider your presence. Are you attracting the right talent? Is your brand message clear and consistent? Would you apply for a job based solely on your careers page? How are you building your talent pool? How is technology helping you simplify the talent acquisition process? In terms of applying for roles based on their recruitment/hiring experience, research from the Allegis Group claims that 56% of candidates would discourage others from joining a business if their experience was poor, and as many as 81% would encourage other people to apply for a company’s vacancies if their experience was good, even if they didn’t get the job. 

Preboarding Ps: procurement, places and people

Besides the mandatory documentation and right-to-work checks, smooth onboarding means making all the necessary arrangements for the new starter to know where to go and what to do on day one. Are they home or site-based? Will they need to have any equipment sent to them in advance? Have you got the correct address? Does the company have more than one site? If so, specify where they will need to go on their first day. Who will they be meeting with and when? How will they get access to the building? Will they have a desk? These are a few of the basic questions you need to answer to ensure a good first impression is made.

If your new starter is joining a remote/hybrid team, some extra considerations should be made. According to survey data from the UK Parliament, 22% of the UK workforce is now hybrid and 13% of teams are fully remote, so scheduling welcome calls with other colleagues is a fantastic way to break the ice. Video is always preferred over voice calls when teams are home-based, as this will foster collaboration. A welcome message in the group chat is also a way to make new hires feel valued. If possible, get them into the office or to meet a colleague face to face, preferably within the first month. Last, but not least, it’s good practice to have IT at hand in case remote set-up fails! 

Shift your mindset from ‘onboarding process’ to ‘candidate experience’

Would you recommend your employer based solely on their onboarding experience? What can you do to make new hires feel aligned with your company values, embedded into the culture, and welcomed into the team, rather than focusing exclusively on completing mandatory training? How often do managers and team members engage with new starters? Onboarding matters: according to the Allegis Group, 54% of candidates say they were somewhat or very likely to leave an organisation based on a poor onboarding experience. Starting a new job can be stressful, so providing a buddy can help reduce some of the anxiety associated with this transition. Offer a consistent experience with plenty of communication, support, and regular checkpoints to ensure the new employee feels safe throughout.  

Rethink your onboarding materials

Inconsistent branding messages, outdated clip art images, pixelated/unrelated photography, distracting/varied/small fonts… we have all been close to death by PowerPoint at some stage. Old onboarding materials turn people off. Too much reading, not enough doing and a focus on compliance rather than considering the learners’ experience can have a similar effect. 

Design an onboarding experience that is fit for purpose

Prioritise the essential knowledge, skills, and behaviours for the role. What should be part of the initial training and what can be learnt on the job? Structure your programme in a logical way, allowing time to practise with systems and to explore and assimilate complex processes. Avoid overwhelming your learners. Focus on sustainability, investing in digital modules for compliance to ensure they can be revisited with minimal impact on the operation. 

Consider the most suitable delivery methods

Onboarding is more than throwing some slides together and talking at people. Individual needs should be taken into account, and this includes learning styles and neurodiversity. Do you have a variety of media and activities to engage with all types of learners? Flex your delivery: using a variety of methods including group discussions, reading materials, videos, digital interaction, research, reflection time and peer networks allows for everyone’s needs to be met. 

Culture, culture, culture

We can’t stress this enough: culture is in the top 10 reasons why people quit their jobs. Support and guidance from the onset often result in a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Regular, meaningful feedback and appreciation go a long way. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees are more productive and engaged when their four basic needs are met: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – how are you catering for your workforce’s needs, regardless of their tenure? 

According to Deloitte, 90% of employees decide to stay with a company within the first six months of employment, and the cost of employee turnover is estimated at 150% of their salary.  

Careful planning and the candidate’s journey should be at the core of your onboarding experience, offering support and information along the way. Create wow moments that remind them why you are their employer of choice and provide a logical structure to reduce the nervousness associated with starting a new job. 

In the context of onboarding, distributed leadership further emphasises shared responsibility among leaders, ensuring that communication isn’t centralised. This approach encourages various leaders to contribute to the onboarding process, enriching the experience with diverse perspectives. Good listening skills play a pivotal role as leaders absorb feedback and insights, fostering a culture of openness and collaboration. This dynamic interaction enhances the experience, making it more adaptive and reflective of the company’s collective wisdom. 

In future articles on Onboarding, we will explore the value of virtual versus face-to-face and the use of digital learning to enhance the experience.

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