Increasingly, new starters are looking for customer grade experiences from their onboarding experience. How can you provide it? And why is it worth the investment?
Today’s employer attraction strategies put candidates’ needs front and centre. They’re engaging, brand building, and take full advantage of the latest technology. Creative advertising campaigns run across multiple channels, driving candidates to careers websites full of rich, thought-provoking content. Assessments are immersive and interviews experiential. Everything is designed to convince the right talent to say ‘Yes’.
But after they do, what happens next? A few forms? A letter of congratulation? Perhaps an email from a line manager? At the very moment the candidate becomes an employee, many businesses drop the ball. At which point, many candidates return the favour by disengaging too. One to three months is the typical time between offer and start date for professional, executive and management hires. It’s a long time to be ignored.
The problem can be even worse for graduates, who typically have over nine months before they start.
High Flyers research in 2017 found that over 800 graduate roles were left unfilled, due to candidates turning down or reneging on offers.
So, what’s the answer?
The creation of an onboarding experience that sees the new starter as a person to be engaged and excited rather than just a number to be processed through a series of admin tasks.
Onboarding should be an even richer experience for your new starter than the attraction process. After all, these are the people you have chosen to be part of building the future of your organisation. Engaging video, compelling storytelling, and a personalised approach that tells them about their own team, their own department and their own future career all have an important part to play.
But perhaps the most important element of all is the building of a community. Creating links between new starters, their line managers, their buddies, and, crucially, their peer network, can give a huge boost to both engagement and retention.
One of our larger financial services clients has embraced this approach for their early career cohort. Last year’s graduate onboarding experience started five months before day one, and focused on engagement, support and building a real sense of community – all delivered by their award-winning onboarding tech Eli.
Indeed, the site’s instant messaging page had over 8,000 hits, as graduates engaged with their line managers, buddies and each other.
And, through Eli’s social wall, their graduates were able to forge even stronger links, discussing everything from finding accommodation, to arranging a drink - all before they’d walked through the door. Unsurprisingly, dropout fell dramatically.
Of course, all of this was backed up with personalised content which gave their new starters the knowledge they needed to add value straight away. Perhaps that’s why individuals visited the portal over 33 times (on average) during the onboarding period (and stayed on the site for over 7 minutes each time). Over the last few years, this approach has led to an 85% retention rate upon completion of the graduate programme.
If you evolve an onboarding strategy that recognises the need to put people first from the moment you hire them, the benefits in terms of retention, engagement and performance are considerable.