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Culture

A guide to employee onboarding in fast-growing companies

First impressions drive last impressions! 

Working with the generation of job hoppers — the millennials — how you onboard your employees decides their future in your company. A Gallup survey states that 6 out of 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities at any given time. 21% of them have changed jobs in the last 12 months. 

Millennials have become the consumers of the workplace. For leaders of a growing company, the challenge is not only to attract potential talent, but also to retain them for the long run. While the entire employee lifecycle is crucial to turn employees into brand ambassadors, employee onboarding i.e. the first 90 days sets the stage for success, or failure!

Companies that have an active onboarding program tend to retain 91% of their hires after the first year of joining. 

In this article we will cover everything you need to know about onboarding employees the right way.

Table of contents

What is onboarding?

Employee onboarding is more than just a formal introduction. To be effective, the onboarding process needs to cover all technical, social, cultural, and procedural aspects of hiring a new member.

A great onboarding process ensures that the employee fits in with the company brand image, workplace culture, mission, and meets the skill requirements for the chosen role.

It also sets out the tone for future interactions that happen between the employer and the employee. When employees are boarded well from day one, it tends to create a seamless integration into the existing workforce. In the long run, it increases the employee's productivity and supports employee retention.

Before we dive deeper into the onboarding process, let us first look at the cost of poor employee onboarding on an organization.

What are the consequences of poor onboarding?

Often the results of poor onboarding are not evident at the start of employment. The most visible result of poor onboarding is high employee churn or attrition. 

In a fast-growing company, time is money and bandwidth is low. Therefore, a high voluntary attrition rate not only increases the financial cost of employee acquisition, but also ends up wasting other people’s time and effort that could be used for high value activities. A culture of attrition also leads to poor morale at the workplace.

Here’s what happens when employees are not onboarded properly — 

Low productivity

UrbanBound found that of all the employees who did not meet their performance goals in the first year, 50% did not receive a formal onboarding. With new employees that are not started with the right tools tend to take more time to familiarize themselves with the new work environments. This could mean that a substantial time of the hiring is spent learning things that could have been tackled at the onboarding plan. Something as simple as operating a coffee machine needs to be part of any onboarding efforts. Small steps like these do show the employee that people care and make them feel comfortable. 

Chance of failure

When the hirings' expectations are not in sync with the work settings, it could lead to frustrations and lack of interest in the work assigned. The chances of such employees seeking other avenues cannot be ruled out, which could lead to workers' failures.

Churn

It has been noticed that firms that have a good onboarding process tend to have less churn of employees. Thus, the cost incurred in having an effective onboarding program would be offset by the savings accrued in reducing the hiring of new employees. In addition, studies have indicated that 20% of new hiring churn occurs during the first 45 days, and having an effective onboarding plan reduces this significantly.

Low morale

Often, the reason for low confidence of the employee is feeling isolated and unsupported. A lack of understanding of the new employee’s expectations from the employer and the job (such as career development opportunities) leads to low employee engagement due to low morale. This eventually leads to employees looking for other job opportunities soon.

Branding

A high attrition rate of new employees creates a poor image of the company they are working in. Today, 84% of employees say that they may leave their jobs if they receive an offer from a company with an excellent employer reputation. 

For fast growing companies, a poor employee brand image is quickly propagated across the industry, making further hiring hard to do or more expensive to achieve.

On the other hand, taking the time or care to onboard employees can lead these amazing benefits.

The advantages of an effective onboarding program

1. Increased Retention

According to research, about 86% of employees decide whether they want to stay with the company in the long run or not in the first 6 months. An effective onboarding would mean that employees have lesser chances of leaving in the first year at work. This significantly cuts down on employee costs and leads to better productivity at the office. 69% employees are more likely to stay with an organization for 3 years, if they experience great onboarding. A great first impression definitely goes a long way!!

2. Increased productivity

Companies that tend to have a good onboarding schedule tend to report up to 50% better new hire productivity at the workplace with happier and fulfilled employees most of the time. When expectations are clear, goals are set, resources are distributed well, it leads to higher productivity. 

The cost incurred in new employee onboarding is often offset by a better return on investment. Most clients report having a satisfying experience while interacting with the companies having an effective onboarding program.

3. Better revenue

Naturally, happier customers equals higher revenue. When employees are happy and engaged, they go the extra mile in their roles to improve the company's profitability. This could mean increased revenue of up to 60%. There seems to be a greater focus on the new hiring than places without an onboarding process.

4. Better relationship with the team and managers

The top driver of a high performance team is psychological trust. Gallup research says that 75% of employees leave due to poor relationships with their bosses.

Taking the time to build a comfort zone for new hires in the workplace builds relationships beyond mechanical workplace transactions. Frequent check-ins, 1:1s, all hands in the initial days reduces initial isolation and creates a sense of belonging which further results in high employee engagement.

5. Seamless integration to company culture

62% companies say that the primary objective of employee onboarding is to integrate them into the organizational culture. Because ultimately, a company culture is what drives employee performance, engagement, and overall experience.

Especially, in hyper growth companies, integrating new employees into the culture soon and well minimizes the risk of quick attrition. Thus saving time and resources on rehiring.

Now let’s look into what a standard employee onboarding process looks like in a hyper growth company.

Employee onboarding in fast growing companies

For fast growing companies recruiting and retaining top talent is a challenge in itself. Today new employees want a customized onboarding experience to feel connected to their new place of work. With more companies opting for a remote or hybrid workplace model since the pandemic, onboarding has become more challenging. 

While fast-growing companies or scaling start-ups may not be able to provide the high brand value or bigger financial rewards to the new joinees, hypergrowth companies can indeed offer them the excitement of being part of a bigger purpose that the big companies often fail to provide. Make sure to capitalize on this when onboarding a new employee.

Being a fast-growing company, your onboarding program must include the following — 

  • Sell your company culture. Let the new employees know the story behind the company and the brand.
  • Share your bigger visions and goals that you want to accomplish as an organization. 
  • Introduce the employee to the new co-workers and partners that he is going to work with. Focus on building camaraderie between team members.
  • Set out expectations for employee performance and evaluation clearly. Use OKRs for better alignment of goals with purpose.
  • Ensure that the employee complies with company policies and procedures.

Employee onboarding best practices 

Integrating a fresh joinee to the existing company culture usually takes about 3 months and introduction to resources, company handbook, and people they need to have access to for doing their job well.

1. Mapping the onboarding process

The onboarding process must be clearly laid out to the employee to the best extent possible. It is essential to have a timeline — from the time a person is hired to when he is joining the organization. It is useful to break the onboarding journey into the first 30-60-90 days and set clear objectives for each period. Every employee is unique and has their own unique needs and expectations. Engage people ahead of time to customize the onboarding process for them when they join.

2. Using introductory videos

All it takes is a smartphone and a video clip about the people with whom the new employee will be working on setting the tone for the first few weeks at the new workspace. It really doesn't cost much and can significantly impact the employee than a series of lectures or PowerPoint presentations. If you are working remotely, using Zoom, Google Meet for video conferencing, 1:1s, or weekly all hands, or recording instructions in Loom goes a long way to eliminate the feeling of alienation. Guided 1:1s are extremely crucial to troubleshoot any problem new hires are facing and build a feedback culture.

3. Getting feedback on the onboarding process

The best place to start charting out onboarding process steps is with the employees already with an organization. By seeking out feedback on their experience and integrating the views and thoughts of the employees go towards making a good onboarding program. Also, ask for continuous feedback from the new joinee, especially during the first 90 days, to understand the pain points and solve accordingly before they snowball into bigger problems that lead to untimely resignation.

4. Set clear expectations

It is important for the new hiring to understand what the management expects from him more so in fast growing organizations where roles might often overlap. In return, the worker must be given an idea as to what to expect from the employer. Let them know how the performance metrics they will be measured against. The matching of expectations properly can lead to a more satisfied group of employees and a smoother employee-employer relationship. 

5. Look into the small details.

An effective onboarding plan is often set apart by the attention to the fine details rather than the big points. For instance, most new employees would know all about the product portfolio of the new company and if an effort is made to manage the daily commute to the place of work, it would go a long way towards making their stay at the workplace comfortable and stress-free.

6. Communicate more

The onboarding process must not be a single flow of information but a closer interaction between the new employee and the management. This would set the tone for future cooperation between the two and puts just the proper perspective on each other. 

7. The vision & culture

Most fast moving companies today tend to have a mission and vision statement. This would be meaningless unless it is conveyed effectively to the new employees. It helps new joiners interact with the existing employees to understand how the promoters' vision is being put to actually work.

Employee Onboarding Checklist

1. Goals and Vision

  • Clarify the role and how the employee fits into the organization. 
  • Review of the company and its products or services.
  • Targets that the company is seeking to achieve by quarter and annual.
  • Specify performance metrics, KPIs, and OKRs clearly

2. How The Firm Operates

  • Let the new hire know work-rules (working hours, meetings, daily operations)
  • Set out company values and guiding principles.
  • Share the company policies regarding various activities.
  • Inform of the perks and benefits that can be expected from the company.

3. Tools

  • Introduce to the employee the various tools that would be required to do the work.
  • Collaboration and communication tools. (e.g., Slack, Asana, etc.)
  • HR and payroll systems
  • Physical Setup (laptop, mobile, WFH Setup, etc.)

4. Access to resources

  • Provide relevant reading materials.
  • Organize one-on-one coaching sessions to accelerate learning.
  • Give access to important websites, tools, software needed for work.

5. Access to people

  • Introduce new workers to the office and specifically to the individuals that he would be interacting with.
  • Get the hiring to know his immediate supervisors and seniors.

6. Setting expectations

  • Set the short-term goals first.
  • Give out plans and targets for the 30-, 60-, and 90-day time periods.
  • Schedule frequent one-on-one with an immediate supervisor.

7. Social inclusion

  • Provide a sense of belonging with the rest of the company.
  • Assign an onboarding partner or work buddy.
  • Introduce the new employee to the rest of the company.
  • One-on-ones with people that the hiring would be interacting closely.
  • Access to company social channels and group events.
  • Update the company website with the new employee details.

Conclusion

As has been laid down in the book, “The Alliance”, by  Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, “The importance of onboarding is significantly increased these days since the average turnover at work is less than four years and lifetime employment strategies are out of date.”

Onboarding new employees, especially in a remote set-up, is challenging. Using specialized software for this purpose often streamlines the process. However, you must remember that onboarding is about building connections with the new member, making them a part of the team, and eliminating the initial feelings of isolation. Tools can help with the systematic processes, but how you treat them is what ultimately determines the success of onboarding.

Be warm. Be kind. Be supportive.

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