By: Kaustav Kashyap
Bringing a new hire up to speed to perform their best is a pertinent business need. With companies investing significantly both in terms of time and money, the onboarding phase plays a key role in shaping the attitudes of the employees towards the brand. Companies today have the added pressure of dealing with candidate renege, especially when there is little or no engagement between the offer date and the date of joining.
Gone are the days when manual, classroom inductions, and elaborate form-filling constituted a 2-3 day-long onboarding process. In today’s world, onboarding goes one step beyond and involves engaging new hires even before they join the company. The idea is to generate employee loyalty and enthusiasm and then ensure that the new hire remains engaged and contributes to the bottom line faster.
Onboarding has evolved to an ongoing process that starts right at recruitment and is more experiential and personalized. A growing emphasis on “teams connect” and “leadership visibility” helps the newcomer feel valued and establishes a sense of social belongingness at the workplace. Research indicates that the trajectory of a new hire’s success is set as early as the first two weeks. This makes onboarding a critical intervention to create a productive talent pool. Onboarding is today looked upon as a strategic intervention to build employee engagement. Here are a few advantages of going online.
Automation of compliance-related work: The cross-location of hires coupled with a mobile, online and social presence, makes online a preferred onboarding medium. Online onboarding is location agnostic, it standardizes the content and prevents information overload to the new hires. This helps establish a comfort level. Here are a few things online onboarding helps ease: Online paperwork/formalities before joining, sharing an e-employee handbook before joining, assigning an e-mentor and establishing a social connect, setting up e-learning modules, sharing videos or podcasts especially around the brand and culture, and connecting new hire to external and internal social channels to stay engaged.
Establish a personal connection: The onboarding process must be complemented by a personal touch that makes the new hire feel valued. Do you extend a warm welcome? Do you have a customized new-hire announcement? Is there an opportunity to interact with senior business leaders? Identifying these areas and using both offline and online mediums help in keeping employees engaged. These are some minute, but important nuances to create a strong connection to the brand even before the first day at work.
Access to data-driven insights: A data and metric-driven approach to onboarding help measure the effectiveness and efficiency at various stages of the process. Quantification happens in two ways:
- To check employee progress
Metrics such as six-monthly retention, first-year retention, new hire performance, etc. are being tracked and correlated to onboarding.
- To improve the process execution such as training completion statistics
Is a prospective employee engaged? If he or she is not as engaged, can an HR SPOC connect with the said employee? Access to these insights also enables companies to build a talent pipeline that is not a victim to candidate renege.
- Support your pre-boarding activities
Pre-boarding activities not only help in increasing employee engagement; they also give the candidate a chance to get to know the organization in a meaningful manner. Here are a few examples of activities that companies engage in – a pre-joining fun challenge (e.g. a quiz), sending the new hire and family some company merchandise, assigning a ‘buddy’ who periodically ‘checks-in’ and converses with the new hire, sharing a simple yet exciting schedule on what to expect in the first few days and scheduling an informal meet-up/video call with the team or lunch with the manager.
The idea of pre-boarding activities is to make new hires look forward to joining the organization. HR must help them gel with everyone and make them an inclusive part of the team even before they join. Of course, there are limits on how much information you can share before a person joins due to the risk of falling back. Applying wise discretion and strike the balance between openness and caution.
A well-boarded employee is often, a loyal and committed employee whose personal goals are well-matched with the organizational goals. Building such a devoted talent pool can make all the difference between business instability and progressive growth.