Boss Lady

No, onboarding is not orientation, but it is crucial


Onboarding is undervalued – and sometimes, misunderstood. Many companies mistake orientation for onboarding. Orientation introduces the employee to the straightforward processes and procedures they need to know. It includes signing employees up for benefits, getting familiar with payroll, receiving company ID, and understanding the paperwork to be filled in in different situations.

This is important, but it is not enough to ensure employees thrive. Too many companies skip proper onboarding, which not only helps employees understand what is required in their day-to-day jobs, but also helps them connect their jobs to the overall strategy of the organization.

Without an onboarding strategy, new employees can find the first days or weeks confusing and frustrating. They may have a more difficult time understanding how the organization functions, or what its objectives and values are. They may also struggle to see how their role fits into the bigger picture.

Before tossing a bunch of files on a new employee’s desk, take the time to take them through a comprehensive onboarding process. It will deliver significant long-term benefits for your company. Here’s how.

Employee retention

According to the Aberdeen Group 90% of employees decide whether or not they will stay at a company in their first six months of working there. This means these months are crucial. The day your new employee starts is perhaps the most important for making sure they will stay.

Companies without an onboarding strategy have higher turnover, while companies that implement a structured onboarding program keep their staff longer. One study found new employees who went through an onboarding process were almost 70% more likely to be with the organization three years later.

Every HR professional knows how expensive recruitment is – it costs between $3,000 to $18,000 to replace the average employee. That’s why, if at all possible, you want to keep your employees rather than find new ones. In the long run, designing and implementing a comprehensive onboarding strategy is much less expensive than coping with a rotating door of staff.

Employee engagement and productivity

A robust onboarding strategy makes sure employees align with the company culture from day one. It connects them with coworkers, managers, and leaders of the organization so they feel part of the team, and also understand the roles other staff play. This means they will know who to turn to when they have a question, and how various teams and departments work together, allowing them to be more productive.

In fact, new hires at organizations with an onboarding process are more than 50% more productive than organizations without onboarding. And almost 80% of new hires who hit their first performance milestone had a formal onboarding process.

This has an impact on others in an organization. For instance, manager satisfaction with their employees increases by 20% when an onboarding program is in place.

Overall, onboarding helps employees understand their role, the organization’s purpose, and makes them feel valued and happier at work. And as we all know, happy employees are more productive employees.

Better customer experience

Happy employees mean happy customers. By making your employees more engaged and happier with their work, you are also ensuring they will be more engaged with customer experience.

Yet the benefits of onboarding for customer service go even deeper. If your employees don’t understand your organization’s values and purpose, how can they communicate them to your customers? With an onboarding strategy, your organization can ensure consistent messages and a consistent customer service experience at all levels of your organization, whether a customer is interacting with a sales representative or a company Twitter account.

More strategic organizational thinking

Incredibly, onboarding can make your organization better at responding to industry trends. A study by Impact Instruction Group, found that companies that continually update their onboarding programs are better able to uncover and act upon industry indicators.

When employees across the board at your organization have been set up for success, it makes your organization more strategic and more competitive.

Higher revenue

The calculation is simple. Higher employee retention + greater employee productivity + better customer service + more strategic thinking = higher revenue. An onboarding program can have a real impact on your organization’s bottom line.

This makes sense, given the strong relationship between employee happiness and organization profitability.  And it’s part of the reason why onboarding is part of doing the first day the right way.

In summary, onboarding can help your organization:

  • Retain more employees
  • Keep your employees engaged and productive
  • Deliver better customer service
  • Think more strategically
  • Earn more revenue

Yet despite these benefits, a 2014 Deloitte study found more than half of employers had no structured onboarding process or used one that had not been built to be relevant in the digital age. One-third of companies spend absolutely nothing on onboarding, and one-third of global executives say the onboarding they experienced was poor.

This means organizations who take the time to do a proper onboarding process have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Don’t let your company neglect onboarding. Reap the benefits of happy, productive employees proud to work at your organization. Put an onboarding program in place to help your organization succeed.

About Michelle Stedman

Michelle Stedman is Vice President of Operations and Talent Management Strategist at BirdDogHR

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