Employee onboarding is one of the most important aspects of an organisation’s recruitment process. Get it right and it can lead to improved staff retention, higher levels of engagement and increased productivity. Get it wrong and it can cause reputational damage and difficulties in hiring and retaining top talent. With this in mind we tackled the topic at our recent HR Forum, and we spent a productive and enjoyable morning at Ickworth House discussing what a successful onboarding process might look like.
Although we realise that the onboarding process will vary across sectors, businesses and even departments, we thought it would be useful to share some of the top tips that we discussed.
Everyone agreed that the onboarding process should start at the earliest opportunity. New starters should feel engaged and valued well before their first day. The preboarding checklist might include:
- Sending out the employment contract.
- Completing pre-employment checks.
- Carrying out occupational health referrals if relevant to the role.
- Setting up all IT/workplace equipment.
- Ensuring new starters are set up on HR systems.
- Making internal announcements about the new starter as appropriate (either company wide, office wide or to the immediate team).
- Inviting the new starter to social events or holding a team lunch for them.
The consensus was not to overload new starters with information on day one. Consider what they really need to know on their first day and provide them with an FAQ document setting out the answers to key questions they may have. The day-1 checklist might include:
- Ensuring that the new starter is greeted on arrival. First impressions count!
- Organising a site tour – including workstation and key facilities.
- Making relevant introductions and arranging a meeting with their line manager, supervisor or head of department.
- Ensuring they can log on to their workstation and that all equipment is working properly.
- Carrying out a workplace risk assessment.
- Setting up a welcome lunch.
- Ensuring key paperwork is completed.
- Organising any essential training and ensuring the new starter has access to company policies. HR apps can work well for this and some organisations are using online training videos effectively.
First two weeks
This initial period gives you an opportunity to ensure that the key elements of the onboarding process have been completed and that the new starter has met with the key people relevant to their role and understands what is expected of them. The first 2-week checklist might include:
- Ensuring relevant training has been completed or is in the diary.
- Setting targets for the new starter and diarising follow up meetings/reviews.
- Ensuring they fully understand what benefit schemes are in place and have completed any relevant forms (for example pension scheme or healthcare arrangements).
- Setting the new starter up with a buddy or mentor.
- Scheduling regular check-ins with their team leader or HR.
For many new starters this is their initial probationary period, and therefore it is important for the business to carefully monitor their work and provide regular feedback during this time (including recognising success). The 90-day checklist might include:
- Continuing with the training plan and ensuring that the new starter has completed all training.
- Managing the end of the probationary period.
- Reviewing performance goals and setting revised goals/targets.
- Ensuring that HR remains visible, and that the new starter has sufficient support.
- Finding out how they feel about their new role and if it’s a good fit.
It was agreed that a successful onboarding process can be as long as 12 months to ensure that the new starter is fully integrated into the organisation. The 12-month checklist might include:
- Reviewing and celebrating the last 12 months.
- Setting new goals for the year ahead and discussing the general performance review process.
- Getting 360° feedback from the new starter on the onboarding process – there is always room for improvement.
During a time when attracting and retaining top talent is seen as one of the biggest challenges facing HR, creating a strong onboarding process can give your organisation a real advantage. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ process, hopefully the above tips will encourage you to review your onboarding process and maximise engagement with your new starters.
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.