Daniel Aduszkiewicz, Human Panel Co-founder, shares his tips on how to improve your onboarding strategies and help new hires get up to speed.
When job openings are high, and unemployment is low, people can become very picky about where they want to work. That’s why it’s essential to engage and retain them from day one. On top of that, the shorter the time-to-productivity, the less it will cost your company.
A study by Glassdoor shows that companies with a good onboarding process improve new employee retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% (1). Effective onboarding also reduces errors and increases employee retention. But even before you start rethinking your hiring process, you should measure your company’s time-to-productivity and check how long the onboarding process takes.
“Without that data, you’re going to have a wide gap in your HR system. And if you’ve calculated the numbers but aren’t sure what they mean, look at industry benchmarks. Remember that time-to-productivity will vary greatly by position and industry,” says Daniel Aduszkiewicz, CEO & Co-Founder of Human Panel.
Aduszkiewicz emphasizes that you should not use “opinions” as a data metric. “Building a workforce on opinions is a dead end. Measurable data will help you address the problem you have, whether it’s higher turnover or fighting the competition. Without data, you’ll have endless conversations that won’t lead to improving employee performance,” adds Daniel Aduszkiewicz.
Why onboarding matters
Michael Watkins, the author of the best-selling book “The First 90 Days,” wrote that the most significant impact you’ll ever have on new employees occurs during their first few months at the company. Those 90 days are likely the maximum amount of positive energy and attitude you’ll get from the employee, and that’s why you should have a very well-thought-out onboarding process.
At the same time, a Gallup study shows that only 12% of employees admit that their company has a robust onboarding process (2). HCI data shows that 58% of companies say their onboarding focuses on one week of paperwork (3). It seems to be a severe misunderstanding of the impact onboarding has on productivity and employee retention.
According to Digitate, a negative onboarding experience makes new employees twice as likely to look for other opportunities. And a survey of more than 500 experienced managers conducted by Egon Zehnder found that new hires struggled most with the company’s policies and culture. They didn’t understand “the rules of the game” and failed to build crucial relationships within their teams.
So how to get your employees up to speed and improve your onboarding process? Here are 7 tips from Daniel Aduszkiewicz:
Structure your onboarding to improve time-to-productivity
Plan your onboarding program and break it down into clear phases. Define how long it will take, what impression you want to leave with the new employee, and how and when you will gather feedback. What do new hires need to know about the company’s culture and work environment? What role will you play as an HR leader?
Be sure to include the organizational part in the process: building facilities, car parking, available benefits, and signing up for them.
Also, don’t forget the technical and social part of onboarding – employees need to understand the organization’s culture and come to terms with its values and norms.
If you want to effectively measure time to onboarding and time to productivity, Human Panel provides a dedicated HR management solution that will organize all your workforce data and help you optimize your processes. See how it works by requesting a free demo – all you need to do is fill out this short form below.
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Connect new employees with key stakeholders
It is the critical part of the onboarding process – explaining how your organization works, who’s who, and what the roles and responsibilities of the managers are that your employee will be working with.
It happens that people without elaborate job titles are crucial to the organization. Or, on the contrary, the organization has a highly complex structure of job titles that can be very confusing. Your new hire should know who the decisive stakeholders are to be successful on the job.
Ensure they know why these people are essential and how to connect with them. Knowing who the CFO or CTO is is good, but understanding who does what and why is even better.
Explain the corporate language
It’s equally important to familiarize a new employee with your company’s language. It may seem obvious, but every single organization has its specific jargon or a set of acronyms that are incomprehensible to outsiders.
New employees may feel embarrassed if they have to ask what something means that they hear all the time, so try to stay ahead of those questions. It’s better to prepare a company glossary than to have a new person spend two weeks figuring out a specific acronym.
In this context, it can be helpful to explain the language of the company and the tone of voice. All of this may seem like a small thing, but it can get the best out of your new employees in the quickest way possible.
Give them a buddy
According to HCI, 87% of companies say buddy programs improve the skills of new employees (4) (although less than half have them). Dedicating a few hours of work from an experienced employee can significantly speed up the onboarding process.
Plus, the only cost you’ll incur is your expert’s time – but the point isn’t to have a newbie and an experienced employee working together all the time. Instead, schedule regular meetings of the two. Once a week for the first month and 1-2 times a month after that is a reasonable choice.
A buddy can also serve as a guide for the new employee, providing him or her with the general context of the company and introducing the person to the company’s social life.
Set clear expectations
From day one, communicate the tasks and expectations you have for your new employee. Define responsibilities and boundaries in terms of authority or available resources they should know. Outline where their autonomy begins and ends – this will help you avoid misunderstandings.
Schedule regular check-ins for feedback and discuss skill gaps. Don’t be discouraged if the onboarding period takes longer than the 90 days Watkins mentions. Some jobs require a lengthier adjustment period. Remember to ask new employees for their feedback – this can be valuable data, too.
Set as many productivity-oriented tasks as possible
For the first three months, assign your new employee as many productivity-oriented tasks as possible. Give them clear but realistic targets. Start with goals that you are confident that person can achieve. These early successes will help build confidence and gradually increase responsibility.
If you want your new employees to shine, provide them with training and learning opportunities. They can refer to both the basics of your business (the product) and your organization’s values.
Include numbers when evaluating the new hires’ performance and validate your evaluation with data. Do this in a safe environment and encourage employees to share their successes and areas of growth.
Look into data
All your activities – including setting expectations and measuring progress – should be underpinned by data. These insights will suggest strategies and tactics that can be used in further onboarding phases, giving you a profile of your new employee.
If you work in a large company that hires thousands of employees, the data from such one-on-one interviews will give you a fantastic overview of your onboarding process as a whole. If you’re missing something, it’ll be on the record. Maybe you’re spending too much time explaining the toolset and not enough time focusing on the people around it?
In addition, data will show you how long it takes for a new person to reach the expected level of productivity. And it will arm you with arguments if you want to change the onboarding process. With some hard numbers, you’ll be able to really influence decision-making, not just put empty pressure on your superiors.
Remember that you first need to identify the problem you have to address it. Whether you’re struggling with poor employee retention, extended time-to-productivity, or high turnover, know your enemy. Creating processes or making changes based on your intuitions or insecurities can lead to significant money leaks, while you can access the powerful tool – the data.