How to Refine Your Employee Onboarding Process Steps

One of the greatest difficulties faced by any fast-growing business is figuring out how to onboard their new workers. The facts don’t lie: Employees that feel like they lack guidance and structure from the ground up don’t last in their new positions.

With that in mind, it’s stunning to think that well over a third of employers haven’t bothered to update their onboarding process steps in several years. And that’s assuming they have a structured onboarding process at all!

You don’t want your company contributing to the already record-high turnover rates. You don’t want to keep training a fresh crop of employees every few months. Thankfully, you can avoid such occurrences with proper onboarding.

How can you refine your employee onboarding for the modern work environment? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Employee Onboarding?

To understand how to improve your process, you must first understand what employee onboarding is. The employee onboarding process is, well, how you bring new employees on board. It’s how you train and welcome your new hires, setting them up for success with your company.

Many large companies have dedicated HR personnel for onboarding. Even if you’re not large enough to have an entire department for it, you need to have a process in place. Why? Well…

Why Is It Important to Refine Your Onboarding Process Steps?

Now that you have a better understanding of what employee onboarding is, you may wonder why it’s so important. When you consider that the average company spends over a thousand dollars per employee to bring them up to speed, the answer becomes clearer.

Training a new hire is infinitely more expensive than paying someone who understands your procedures and culture already. Now, imagine doing that twenty times over the course of a year as turnover rates spike.

You can’t afford not to refine your onboarding process steps. With this in mind, let’s move on to steps that you can take to make things better.

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How to Refine Your Onboarding Process

With a full understanding of the importance of proper onboarding behind you, let’s talk about how you can refine your onboarding process. New-hire training is one of those elements that gets neglected over the years, which spells disaster for your team and your company.

Don’t let this happen to you. Consider making the following adjustments:

Make Onboarding Interactive and Engaging

Sit down and think, really think, about the last time you attended a new-hire training event. Did you just picture a day full of reading and signing paperwork and presentations? Or a hastily-given thirty-minute PowerPoint before you got rushed onto the floor?

Not the most engaging of events, by any metric. If you can find ways to make the onboarding process more engaging, like using employee onboarding software, then you’ll be a step ahead of the game.

Seek and Incorporate Feedback From Your Team

Something that tends to let the new employee onboarding process lag behind any current company reforms is an unwillingness to seek out comments or criticism from your current team. Employees tend to be forthright with what they did or did not like about their initial days with the company when asked.

This can provide you with an invaluable source of feedback that can let you know where your pain points are.

Be Proactive and Forthright

Let’s face it: No employee appreciates being onboarded to a company and finding out that their job is not, in fact, what they thought it was. All you need to see as an example is the number of so-called “high-end sales companies” where, in fact, you’re expected to hawk satellite subscriptions to unsuspecting grocery shoppers.

Be forthright about what your company does and what your new hires’ duties will be. They will appreciate your candor. Or else, they’ll take another offer better suited to their skillset and desires.

Make Onboarding a Social Experience

Another cardinal sin that almost every employee onboarding program commits? They don’t make onboarding a social experience, but a classroom lecture.

Many people struggle to learn in a traditional academic environment. So, anything that reminds them of that instantly activates glazed eyes and boredom. Your onboarding process should allow your new hires to socialize with other newbies and your current team, giving them the chance to forge new bonds.

Craft a Proper Orientation

The worst type of orientation is the nonexistent type. This happens a lot in low-paying positions on the ground level, where people feel that their only recourse to being in the weeds is on-the-job training.

Trust us when we say that, while there is no substitute for doing, most modern employees won’t appreciate being thrust straight into the fire on day one. You need to have a complete and dedicated orientation day to ease new hires into their roles.

Make the New Hire Feel Welcome

If new hires feel discomfited or like they don’t belong, chances are, they won’t stay with your company. There are a few ways you can make new hires feel welcome. While making your onboarding process more social can help, there are other methods available.

Welcome kits full of company-based swag are a common tactic to make new hires feel welcome to the company. If you want to go a step beyond, consider going past the usual “custom employee shirt, name tag, lanyard, and carabiner” package that gets offered by most places. Find special tools that work well for your workers, like mugs or package openers.

Keep Communication Lines Open

Another way to improve your employee onboarding process steps is to keep your lines of communication open. Always.

Many companies talk big about how much they care for their employees in the first week or two, then forget that they exist as soon as the orientation period ends. You ensure improved employee performance if you leave your doors open.

Check on your employees during their first few months to make sure they’re adjusting to the culture and expectations. This will let you address any problems before they spiral out of control.

Be Clear On Company Culture and Compliance Expectations

While this can qualify as being proactive and forthright, it must be said that establishing culture and compliance is crucial to successful onboarding. In jobs where safety risks abound, you need to establish the importance of compliance with company procedures on day one. A welcome token for new hires would establish a good impression, check Swag Bar for that.

If you aren’t clear on cultural or compliance expectations, you can wind up with a hefty worker’s compensation payout. Or worse, a lawsuit. It’s not worth that kind of risk.

Offer Copies of Onboarding Documents

Now, you may wonder why we tell you to offer copies of the onboarding and orientation documents when we’re vehemently against the approach of handing the new people a stack of papers. Here’s the thing: Everyone needs reminders of company policy from time to time.

You save yourself from getting flagged down over tiny details if employees have access to their handbook and other onboarding documents beyond day one. You don’t need to have them in physical form: Rather, you can offer digital copies, emailed to employees after their first couple of weeks.

Assign Accountability Buddies

Not sure how to onboard a new employee and make it stick? As many lifestyle and psychology blogs will attest, having a friend at work increases employee retention. It makes people feel more attached to their job as a whole.

You can somewhat facilitate this process by assigning accountability buddies. Or, worded another way, pairing new hires with existing team members based on their personality profiles to give them a chance to understand how the company works day-to-day.

Some companies go the route of having a single, dedicated trainer. However, this approach can end up damaging onboarding efforts if their personality clashes with the new hire. Far better to have a team of people well-suited to training and befriending new people to help you out.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Employee Onboarding

Now that we’ve discussed some onboarding best practices, let’s talk about some things you need to avoid at all costs. The following are what we’ll call the seven deadly sins of employee onboarding. These include:

1. Pride: “Our Process Has Worked for Years!”

When it comes to your employee onboarding process, pride can damage your attempts to welcome new people. Your process may have worked for years and years, but no company is immune from reproach. Review your onboarding materials and process at the end of each year.

2. Envy: “How Come the New Team Gets Paid More?”

This should go without saying, but if you intend to offer higher pay to new hires, you need to also compensate those who work for you already. The last thing you want is to breed enmity between your current team and those coming on board now.

Reward your team as they deserve. Compensate them and your new hires fairly, and you’ll avoid creating friction between them.

3. Wrath: You Don’t Know Your Job After a Month?

One problem many companies experience is this expectation that you should know your job as well as someone who’s been there for years after your first month. Many managers only have patience for new hires for their first two weeks.

After that, there’s an expectation that the new employee should ‘know what they’re doing’, complete with disciplinary action should a policy be forgotten. Don’t let your anger and frustration get the better of you. Offer gentle corrections before you go for write-ups.

4. Lechery: Social Mores Evolve, and Your Training Should Too

This happens all too often in companies with older, more conservative cultures. Underground currents of sexual or racial harassment linger and go unreported until a new face comes in and tries to bring it to light.

This casual disregard can slip into your training documents as well. So, make sure that you update your onboarding documents to reflect the latest aspects of diversity and sensitivity training.

5. Greed: “How Much Work Can I Get From These Workers?”

No matter how thoroughly you onboard your employees, nothing can keep them at your company if they feel overworked and neglected. While some employees are more than happy to accept more responsibility, don’t force mass amounts of overtime on their heads when they’re still training if you can avoid it.

6. Gluttony: “More Hires Mean More Work Gets Done, Right?”

There’s a name for this type of hiring practice. It’s called ‘churn and burn’, and it’s not an effective method of employee onboarding. Sure, you get loads of new hires in the door, but you lose just as many within the first few months.

You’re better served improving your training process and becoming more selective in your hiring. It gives you better, more engaged employees in the long run.

7. Sloth: “Changing the Onboarding Process Is Too Much Hassle.”

This is, by far, the most common of the seven deadly onboarding sins. If it’s not a matter of believing your policies are beyond reproach, then it’s thinking that changing them will prove too much effort.

It might take an investment of time and money, but adjusting your onboarding process steps for the modern era will reward you with higher quality employees that stay with you for longer.

Improving Your Onboarding Process Steps: Let’s Review

We covered a lot of ground in this article about adjusting your onboarding process steps, so let’s get back to basics. If you really want to improve your employee onboarding experience, there are several things to keep in mind.

Don’t neglect your current team for the new hires or do anything that gives them cause to dislike the new people. By the same token, don’t make your new team feel like they don’t matter.

Try to build as much goodwill as you can, and revisit your training processes to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Make your new team feel welcome, and they will repay you with years of service.

Do you still need more tips to help improve your employee onboarding? If so, then check out our blog. We update each day with more helpful and informative articles like this one.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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