The Four Elements of Quality Onboarding

It's your first day at a new job. You arrive at work and check in with the HR department. You are handed an ID card. You are escorted to your cubicle. You shake hands with your new boss.

At many companies, this is the extent of the onboarding process. And that’s a huge mistake for any firm looking to retain great workers.

“It can be a huge cost savings for companies if they can invest in a solid onboarding program,” says Jennifer Currence, SPHR, President of OnCoreManagement in Tampa, Fla. “They are not just holding on to individuals, but good individuals.”

Quality Onboarding

In Currence’s view, a quality onboarding program is integral to employee retention efforts and companies should go beyond the basics when welcoming new workers. She sums up the ideal onboarding program in one word: dynamic. But what does that mean?

“It means it’s not boring. It’s different than the norm,” Currence says. “It lights you on fire, and gets you ready and excited to move forward.”

Currence will speak at the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference and Expo on June 18 in Chicago, offering a presentation titled, “Creating a Dynamic Onboarding Experience.”

Currence says the onboarding process is really three processes in one: pre-boarding, orientation and onboarding. In each phase, care should be taken to ensure the new worker is not only informed, but valued.

Four Key Elements

An onboarding experience should focus on the “Four Cs,” which include:

Compliance – The basics: delivering information on company policies and procedures, benefits, paychecks, the location of the company gym, etc.
Clarifying – Ensuring the employee knows their role and responsibilities. With dynamic onboarding, this should involve more than simply outlining a job description. “You’re not just saying ‘here’s your desk, figure it out,’ you’re getting them involved and getting them to understand their individual goals and how they match with organization’s goals.”
Culture – Sharing both the formal and informal “feel” of the company and how people work together. A dynamic onboarding process allows a company’s culture to shine.
Connection – Helping the new employee feel like they have a friend a work and giving them the information and comfort they need to ask questions and seek help when needed. “When you have that connection, you have better communication. You can talk more intelligently and pointedly with the people you need to work with.”

Currence says that most companies do reasonably well with the first two components, but fall short when it comes to sharing culture and building connections. In fact, research shows only one in five companies even bothers addressing those concerns during onboarding.

“That’s where you get your money’s worth,” she says.

Make Onboarding Dynamic

Moreover, there are easy ways for companies to jazz up even the most mundane parts of onboarding, to both the worker’s and organization’s benefit. Send the new employee a glossy welcome packet before their first day. Provide them with a “get-to-know you” survey. Partner them with another employee who can show them around for a few days. These small steps can make an employee feel like they truly have a place in the organization.

It’s more than just making sure employees are happy. Good onboarding can play a genuine role in retaining workers and, ultimately, saving the company money.

Research from the Aberdeen Group reveals that employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 60 percent more likely to still be with the organization after three years. The group also reports that 70 percent of workers make the decision to stay or leave a company within the first six months.

“You can’t mess up your first day or two of the new employee and make up for it later,” Currence says.

Jennifer Currence is one of many HRCI-certified professionals headlining the SHRM conference, June 17-20 in Chicago. Also, be sure to visit HRCI at Booth #1340.