If you’re hiring or plan to hire this year it’s important you know two truths about present day hiring:
After a decade of working in the technical services and recruiting industry I’ve had few experiences, less than I can count on one hand, with companies that had onboarding programs which I would classify as amazing. Most companies fall short, way short, when it comes to providing a good onboarding experience to their new employees.
There’s an important note to be made here. When people hear ‘hiring’ and ‘onboarding’ they have a tendency to think that those responsibilities fall on our partners in HR. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The leaders who make the actual hiring decision have much to do with this process and good leaders know firsthand that their involvement can make or break the success of that new employee.
Employees, regardless of age, are looking for an ‘experience’ at work. Of course having a job is important to them but increasingly important, arguably more important, for a large majority of the professional workforce is the need to work at a place that provides an experience of comradery, meaningfulness in work, giving back, etc. and the list goes on.
Part of that experience is a company’s onboarding program and these programs shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Does your current employee onboarding program communicate the right message to the best candidates in the market?
Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. In fact, new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years.
That’s a huge impact!
According to iCIMS, a software company specializing in recruiting systems and software, identified that new hires meet their first performance milestone 77% of the time when a formal onboarding program is in place versus only 49% of the time when one ceases to exist.
What that tells us is that when a good employee onboarding program exist BOTH individual performance and job tenure improve dramatically. I would also dare to say that the employees’ happiness and appreciation for the job are improved as well.
What do you do if your employee onboarding program lacks an experience to capture the best of the best?
Look no further – this article provides a complete overview of the only onboarding program you will ever need. Be prepared. There’s some work to be done here before you can just go hire someone and plop them in their bean bag cubby, or dungeon, whichever you’re working with. For the purposes of this article the ‘onboarding experience’ refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program:
Step 1: Candidate Identification
This is the employees’ first glimpse into your company, their experience during this time matters greatly as to whether or not you will have an employee for years or for a matter of months.
- Job Posting – make them friendly and exciting; talk less about performance expectations and more about the opportunity and experience they will have in the role; create enthusiasm in candidates by sharing with candidates exciting things to come like new technology, new services, positive changes within the company, company culture or philosophies, etc.
- Call Backs - ensure people receive call backs to their application; there’s nothing worse than when people apply to a job opening and don’t hear anything in return; automated responses acknowledging the resume submission are at a minimum a necessity, at which point an acceptance or notice of decline is appropriate and certainly better than not saying anything at all and sending people into a black hole.
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Have you ever felt this way on your first day on the job?
“Welcome to [insert your company name here]. We’re glad you’ve joined us. Now that you are an employee please note the following... We ask that you not ever leave your cubical unless it’s to use the complimentary copy machine or in case of an emergency. Bathroom breaks are two minutes long and can only be taken at, oh I’m sorry, you’ve already missed that window today. We discourage you from talking with the other people in your vicinity, so don’t do it. If you have a problem, please feel free to Google your own solution from your smart phone, but not your work computer. Your training will consist of, well we’re not sure at this point so we’ll keep you posted on that. Thank you for your unconditional submission of your body and soul and welcome to the team.”
While that may be grossly dramatized, more for my own amusement than anything else, it is incredible how often employees on day-1 feel this same way. While their new employer might not communicate directly in this manner the end result is that they leave people feeling miserable on their first week of the job primarily because the company hasn’t put enough focus into their ‘onboarding experience’.
I’ve experienced this directly myself. When I started with a company many moons ago I showed up on my first day to have no computer, no trainer/ direction and no workstation. As a result I had to use a computer in the office lobby for my first week completely disconnected from the rest of my new colleagues. Few times did someone come to check up on me. I was handed a large booklet and told that I needed to work through the various sections as quickly as possible. Once I was done I was to tell the office manager and they would think of the next thing for me to do. An awful first impression to say the least.
The onboarding experience is a crucial first impression and we had mentioned last week that Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. When we started the discussion last week on SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program the focus was to bring light to a full proof way of making sure your new employees were welcomed with open arms and given all the tools to be successful with their new jobs.
As a reminder, we will reference the term ‘onboarding experience’ several times throughout this article which refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
If you missed part-1 of this article from last week click here to view:
Step-1: Candidate Identification
Step-2: Interview Process
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program (continued):
- Appreciation – when contacting the candidate who just gave their life to your tireless interview process it’s important to start off appreciating the time they spent with you and your cohorts. They most likely had to rearrange and adjust their personal lives and dodge their current employer in order to make your interviews. Taking a moment to say thank you is the least we can do.
- Personal Touch – I’ve always found it odd that in many companies HR or a recruiter is the one that makes the offer to the candidate, not the direct hiring manager. I’m aware that this is done many times for legal reasons however it leaves a bit of a cold impression with candidates. As a leader I have always found it important to call the people I’m looking to hire directly and discuss the offer letter with them one-on-one. No one will have more enthusiasm and passion about wanting to hire the new employee than the actual hiring manager themselves. A key piece here is that if you are going to go this route and you haven’t had experience doing it before it would be good to take a moment to speak with your HR group to understand what can and cannot be said during these calls.
- Spoken Word & Paper – it isn’t enough to verbally offer someone the job. Professional companies out there big and small follow up the verbal offer with a formal job offer which covers every aspect of their prospective employment. This offer should also require the candidate to sign off on the terms of their prospective employment so there is little room for someone to come back and say they didn’t understand what they were getting into. Email the offer letter on company letterhead as a PDF copy for quick follow through.
- Open Dialogue – when discussing the offer letter make sure to ask the candidate for their feedback once they have had an opportunity to review the fine print. It’s important that all parties involved understand all aspects of the proposed new partnership between employee and employer.
Step-4: Physical Onboarding
- Greetings – a designated person within the company, preferably the hiring manager, should be ready to greet the new arrival on their first day on the job. There’s nothing more classy than for the new hire to walk into the lobby and see a friendly face there to greet them and get the day started.
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About the Author
Serving over a decade in the technical services industry in Orange County, CA, Travis Smith has developed a talent for assessing technical talent and overseeing technical projects. His other areas of specialty include: leadership development, business development, resource planning and creative solutioning.