Optimising the Employee Onboarding Experience


Onboarding new employees can be an exhaustive process. It can take days just getting the signatures for the necessary forms. One challenge to onboarding employees is that so much of the process is traditionally manual. If you are onboarding new employees in a business with high staff turnover, it is crucial to get the employee experience off to a great start.

The costs of poor employee onboarding

Overall, businesses that grapple with high staff turnover risk losing thousands of dollars and struggle with other adverse impacts. For example, every time an employee leaves, it can cost a business anywhere from thousands of dollars to as much as twice an employee’s annual salary.

The impact of high employee turnover can increase the costs of interviewing, advertising, running background checks and testing employees; a poor employee onboarding experience can compound these issues and significantly increase the associated costs.

Besides these challenges, the employee experience suffers. Poor onboarding strategies or disconnected, manual processes can create a loss of engagement, and potential employees may experience unnecessary stress – even before you hire them. It may also affect current employees, and internal cross-boarding candidates may become disengaged in the process and leave for other positions.

There are additional hidden costs related to high employee turnover and poor onboarding experiences. Dissatisfied employees often publicly shame their employers by sharing poor experiences on job boards and other sites, impacting profit margins and your ability to attract desirable job candidates.

However, you can remedy these damaging consequences with a rewarding employee onboarding program that focuses on providing a seamless experience and keeps potential candidates invested in the process.

Building the employee onboarding experience

New employees deserve a better employee experience than a stressful environment of high staff turnover. Did you know that 23 per cent of workers in New Zealand and Australia consider leaving their positions within the first year? One key to retention is to rethink and refocus the strategy of onboarding new employees. Too often, businesses do not place enough emphasis on the employee onboarding journey. Hiring managers need to create an employee onboarding experience that takes them beyond their initial orientation. Below are the key elements to creating an employee onboarding experience:

  1. Before the new employee’s first day, get them organised. Consider digitising onboarding forms and offering e-signing to get the paperwork in early. Set up their workstation with the necessary equipment and schedule introductions with key personnel.
  2. On the first day, introduce them to their orientation and training schedule. Give them a tour of their job site and show them where they can find their co-workers. If possible, pair the new employee with a co-worker from the same department and consider a welcome lunch.
  3. For the first few weeks, schedule some time to talk about how they are managing. Are there any training classes needed? What questions can you answer for them? It is a great idea to schedule simple check-ins in the first few weeks to see how new employees manage.
  4. Within the 3 to 6 month range, check to see if they have everything they need to perform their duties. Meet with them to provide feedback on their performance and achievements.
  5. After one year, talk with the employee about possible career paths for them within the organisation. At this point, meeting with employees regularly to get feedback can move this program forward. Internal surveys regarding their experience with employee onboarding provide insights into how well your strategy worked and what needs to change.

Combatting employee onboarding challenges

It is no secret that employee onboarding is a long, exhaustive process. As one of the first introductions a new employee has to an organisation, employee onboarding is most effective when it is painless for both sides; this is also critical to your success and theirs.

Lack of resources can make or break the employee experience, and recent research shows that this is a big concern with most HR managers when onboarding employees. HR technology solutions now offer portals where new employees can complete their forms about banking or tax information, orientation and transition into a learning environment with relevant training modules and content.

A disorganised employee onboarding strategy can lead to overlooked procedures, flawed processes and leave knowledge gaps in business operations. For the new employee, the first few days can often result in information overload – you can avoid this with a well-managed process. Many HR software onboarding solutions offer configurable options to collect feedback on the process at regular intervals, automating the collection of performance evaluations, surveys, and forms to gain better insight and assist with resolving employee onboarding challenges. In this manner, the employee experience can become consistent, manageable and repeatable.

Stakeholder input from across departments is also an employee onboarding challenge that can make or break onboarding new employees. Often hiring managers collaborate with operations, IT, payroll, and other departments to facilitate onboarding procedures. Without automation, tasks, forms, and conversations go missing or forgotten. With a dedicated onboarding system, stakeholders can collaborate, sign documents and keep track of the process in real-time; there is no need for backtracking.

Your employee onboarding strategy needs to factor in compliance. Data collected by a hiring manager like health, banking, and tax information needs an onboarding software solution that keeps it organised and secure. Facilitating compliance means that new employees receive the correct forms to sign. It also ensures that the collected data is signed, secured, and submitted in good time.

Employee onboarding challenges include retention; 35 per cent of Australian job applicants decide early in the onboarding process whether they will take a job. With so little time to make a good impression upon job applicants, it pays to provide them with an employee onboarding experience that keeps them engaged long term. Besides making new employees feel comfortable about their job decision, ensure your onboarding software solution has a consistent interface, easy-to-use features and meets compliance requirements.

Cross-boarding: Investing in existing staff

Employee onboarding is not only a risky undertaking but expensive. Adding to the expense is the reality that a meticulous screening and interview process does not guarantee the right candidate for a position. But there is a cost-effective alternative called cross-boarding. Cross-boarding is when an organisation leverages its current employee talent pool to perform tasks that need immediate attention rather than looking outside the company for new hires.

Cross-boarding is one answer to many employee onboarding challenges. It mitigates the risk of hiring a new employee that leaves before probation finishes. It also reduces the chance that the external applicant may not be a good fit for the position or your company culture – equally, it may lead to filling positions that are not vacant and require onboarding from outside the company.

Cross-boarding is often extremely economical. Upskilling an existing employee costs less than hiring and training an external candidate. With cross-boarding, the employee already understands the company culture, values, and goals and hiring managers can bypass new employee onboarding activities.

Cross-boarding addresses declines in employee engagement. Upskilling or promoting a current employee’s role in the organisation to satisfy a labour need can benefit both employees and employers. Employers keep a valued employee, fill a skills gap and provide the employee with a new role that maintains their interest. Learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities can also boost engagement while giving employees opportunities to feel recognised and valued within your organisation.

Cross-boarding can increase employee retention. When employees learn of new internal opportunities, they are more likely to view them as viable options in their career path. Internal vacancies give them alternatives other than leaving for another company where opportunities are readily available.

Employee onboarding with Tambla

Are you looking to improve employee onboarding and retention or better manage your talent pool? 

Tambla has robust experience with forecasting and optimising your workforce so that you can flag future requirements, including new hires. Visit our website to learn more about our SAP HXM solutions and services.

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