15 / 4 / 2019
Employee onboarding done right can boost staff retention and set your employees up to make their highest contribution to your bottom line. Here’s how to make it a process not an afterthought.
The importance of employee onboarding is often overlooked. While the payroll aspects are anchored in the collection of employee personal and payment details, the onboarding process is much broader. It’s everything connected with recruitment and retention that engages your new employees.
Neglecting the onboarding process means you can expect poorer employee performance, higher staff turnover and extra recruitment and training costs. Embracing onboarding means that employees are likely to be on your payroll and making a contribution to your bottom line for a long time to come.
Are employers good at employee onboarding?
Research shows employers are quite poor at employee onboarding. One survey of US employers by analytics and advice firm Gallup found only 12 per cent of employees would strongly agree onboarding was done well in their organisation. That’s 88 per cent who think their onboarding experience could be improved.
What do employees think is lacking? The Human Capital Institute in the US found half of organisations focus only on onboarding processes and paperwork, rather than a more holisitc onboarding experience. A third of employees think onboarding is ‘informal’, ‘inconsistent’ or ‘reactive’.
What are the benefits of quality onboarding?
Onboarding done well has a strong return on investment for employers. A Glassdoor report found strong onboarding improves new hire retention by 82 per cent and productivity by 70 per cent. US workforce transformation charity organisation, the SHRM Foundation, puts the retention increase at a lower 52%. At over half this is still a big number.
These hard statistics are built on a range of other benefits. Onboarding builds employee trust and alignment, better communication and stronger connections. It fosters culture, collaboration and engagement. Ultimately, it helps you leverage your new people to achieve business objectives.
How can I create a better onboarding process?
Research shows today’s employers have about 90 days to prove themselves when a new hire starts according to the SHRM Foundation. This crucial period needs to combine making employees feel welcome with preparing them for the job at hand, so they can start adding value to your business.
This means onboarding best practice goes well beyond payroll. However, payroll teams can be a crucial nexus for a process that optimises onboarding into a tool for business growth. But how?
- Understand best practice onboarding
Onboarding incorporates all the interactions employees have with employers in (at least) their first year. This includes everything from interviews and salary negotiations, to their first day, week, month quarter and even year. It includes all the people and processes they will encounter along the way.
This is usually summarised by HR thinkers under the ‘5 C’s’ of onboarding. These are ‘compliance’ (the legal and policy-related elements, including payroll), ‘clarification’ (outlining what constitutes good performance), ‘culture’ (understanding workplace beliefs and values), ‘connection’ (integration into relationships and communication channels) and ‘check back’ (periodic check-ins for 90 days).
To improve, employers need to first understand the true scope of onboarding, and then turn it into a well understood process across their business. This means analysing the existing process, identifying weaknesses and strengths, and communicating new expectations with responsible managers.
- Prepare for the short-term
Do you have a plan for an employee’s first day, first week, or fist month? The reality is employees still turn up for their first day on the job and find their employer under-prepared to bring them on board.
Employers should check to ensure they have the basics covered. Are email accounts and computer log-ins set up? Are you ready to introduce them and schedule time with people they’ll be working with? Have you scheduled a lunch or drinks event that will help them connect with people they’ll be working with? Do they have access to the knowledge that will help them answer any questions?
Thinking ahead about the short-term trajectory of an employee’s experience makes all the difference. An onboarding checklist can help employers navigate these key periods so as to engage, not alienate.
- Plan for the longer-term
Best practice onboarding now goes well beyond the ‘first day’, ‘first week’, or ‘first month’ paradigm. Instead, leading thinkers now agree onboarding is a perpetual process that should never really stop. It begins with an employee’s first interactions and continues right throughout the employee journey.
This means not ‘giving up’ on engagement activities with employees and leaving them to drift when they successfully reach a month with your organisation. Instead, employers should continue to check in with and nurture employees beyond set timeframes so retention continues into the future.
- Combine people with process
An onboarding process is really an empty shell without the people that sit behind it. Onboarding at its best should foster relationships, communication and engagement with the rest of a new hire’s team.
For some, that may mean being taken out by the CEO for lunch some time in the first month. For others, it might mean being part of a buddy system, to give employees someone to call on and talk to if they have any early problems. Regardless, employers should give opportunities for employees to meet, get to know and collaborate with other people in their direct team and the wider company as early as possible, and as often as possible. These networks boost both retention and performance.
- Perfect the payroll process
The payroll aspects of onboarding have changed significantly for the better. While only a few years ago employers and payroll teams had to juggle multiple paper payroll forms and invite employees in to fill out and sign them either before or on their first day, technology has now progressed to the point where this entire process has become a frictionless online experience for your employees.
These advances in payroll onboarding and functionality mean employers can now interact with incoming employees before they step in through the front door. This means collecting all the necessary TFN, personal and banking details efficiently online before they start, turning their first day into a much more enjoyable experience than the form-filling exercise that it used to be.
- Use available onboarding tech
The onboarding process is already moving to one that goes beyond the ‘transactional’. By using the technology now available, businesses are able to turn onboarding into an ‘acculturation’ process. This goes well beyond just the collection of data to providing encounters with informational elements that explain and humanise a business ahead of time, adding new layers to an onboarding experience.
For example, ePayroll and Aussiepay’s technology allows the provision of video onboarding messages - from a CEO, for example - that can give candidates a head start on understanding and engaging with the business’ history, culture, mission and values before they start. It can also profile the people that they’ll be working closely with. Other technologies include things like onboarding surveys (making it more of a science), training and development software, or collaboration software.
Make sure onboarding works for you. Find out more about ePayroll’s onboarding software today.