Glossary
Essential terms used by HR and their meanings.

Onboarding


Onboarding is the process by which a new employee is introduced to an organisation, it is intended to help them understand working practices, build relationships, and reduce the time it takes them to make meaningful contributions to an organisation’s success. The goal of any type of onboarding process is to integrate an individual with the wider organisation, a good onboarding experience will improve productivity, increase employee retention, have a positive impact on organisational culture and promote improved workplace wellbeing.

Depending on the size and complexity of an organisation, the number of activities included in the onboarding process may vary. As no single organisation is identical to another, the duration of an onboarding programme could be anything from a few weeks to several months – even in organisations of similar size and operating in a shared industry.

Employee onboarding process

The onboarding process will be an essential part of the employee experience in an organisation. A good onboarding process will have long-term positive benefits for the individual, team and wider organisation, while a bad experience could drastically reduce performance and employee retention.

It is therefore important to have a well-structured approach to onboarding, when looking at onboarding it is important to consider:

  • How are expectations set – does the onboarding process accurately reflect the day-to-day working experience of the role? Creating false expectations can lead to negative impacts on morale and job satisfaction.

  • How relationships are built between employees – are new employees able to engage with the key co-workers during their onboarding, and are they given the opportunity to integrate socially with the organisation? Limiting the chances to build relationships early can inhibit communication and collaboration in future.

  • How is confidence and trust created – how transparent is the onboarding process and does it fully equip an employee for their new role? Poorly structured training, with limited feedback opportunities, during onboarding will be detrimental to confidence and may reduce performance. Unexpected issues created by poor briefing and communication will undermine employee trust in the organisational structure.

  • How roles are defined, and clear boundaries are set – how are new employees educated on leadership structure, roles and responsibilities? Making sure that the organisational structure, at all levels, is well understood and that key points of contact are made readily available will improve the quality of communication and ensure that tasks are correctly assigned top down and bottom up.

Onboarding

How to create an onboarding process

The first step in creating or revising an onboarding process is considering the wider organisational goals you are looking to achieve. This will help you focus on key areas of the onboarding experience and realistically assess the current state of these in consultation with key stakeholders. Try to understand areas of strength and weakness by engaging employees and encouraging them to supply feedback, then you can plan out actions to deliver improvement.

Activities you may look at include:

  • The job offer – the first part of the onboarding journey sets the tone, poorly structure offer information, misleading or missing information or misconception on the part of the candidate create the potential for serious problems down the line.

  • Discussing salary & compensation – ensuring negotiation over salary is open but robust and clearly aligned to a roles responsibilities and performance expectations can help set the tone for ongoing employee relations.

  • Paperwork – overly complex forms, difficult submission processes, and lack of clarity in communication around paperwork can add damaging stress to the experience for a new hire.

  • Embedding culture – providing a clear understanding of the organisational culture allows the opportunity to assess cultural fit and pre-emptively address any concerns before they contribute to more serious issues.

  • Essential training – making sure that core training is enjoyable, flexible and still fit for purpose during employee onboarding will empower them to gain essential skills more effectively and make them more productive quicker.

  • Providing an employee handbook – the employee handbook is often the central reference point for onboarding employees, making this essential document user friendly and informationally valuable will support new employees as they acclimatise to new policies, processes, and practices.

  • Educating about benefits – an elaborate benefits offering which goes unused is of little value to an employee. Ensuring that onboarding includes concise, informative introductions to all the benefits available will encourage more usage and promote future wellbeing and retention.

  • Visiting other sites and locations – providing opportunities to visit other parts of the organisation, whether that is geographically different or just a different type of workplace (such as a central office, warehouse or retail location).

  • Executive introductions – first exposure to the senior leadership are an excellent chance to reinforce organisational culture and provide role models for career development.

  • Meeting other teams – the introductions to other teams can be great opportunity to encourage social integration for new employees, casual get togethers and chances to discuss shared interests are brilliant icebreakers.

The most important thing to remember is to gather feedback from your employees as often as possible, this will allow you to keep reviewing and improving the onboarding experience as part of a formal change management process.

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