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Four Ways to Streamline Employee Onboarding

Joetta L. Wagner

Joetta L. Wagner

satisfied employeeYou can bring in all the talent you want to your organization, but all the ability in the world won’t work without a comprehensive employee onboarding system.

There are some terms currently in use in the human resources industry that became more widespread in only the last decade or so. One is onboarding. What is it, and what does it mean? Employee onboarding, first coined in the 1970s, refers to the process of integrating a newly-hired person into the company or organization. It includes filing all of the necessary forms and documents with human resources, training the new person, and integrating them in the office.

How Is Employee Onboarding Different from Orientation?

Talent management company PeopleAdmin outlined the basics of onboarding. It’s not just filling out a W-2 form. It’s a process. A well put-together employee onboarding program may take up to two years to complete. New employee orientation is only the beginning of the paperwork processing process. Onboarding is so much more. The key points are:

• constant communication, both up and down the company ladder

• an in-depth immersion into a company’s mission, which translates into branding

• an equally in-depth immersion into company culture

• understanding the organization’s expectations

• understanding what the position’s productivity needs are

• applying all of the above to integrate and acclimate a new hire’s place in everything from the corporate culture to longevity in the position

Employee Cost, High Turnover, and Combatting Both

Julie Kantor outlined some of the costs related to high turnover in a company in the Huffington Post. Losing a millennial, for example, may cost anywhere from $15,000-25,000 to find a good replacement. Richard P. Finnegan’s article excerpt in SHRM, Placing Dollar Costs on Turnover, shows the calculations for replacing an employee in terms of direct costs and lost productivity. The individual cost might be bearable, but the overall cost can run into millions of dollars. How can human resources combat high turnover? One way is to spend the time and energy creating an employee onboarding program. Here are four steps to streamlining the process, as put forth by hiring and talent expert Erin Borgerson.

1. Technology

Technology is every HR person’s best friend. Advances in technology have made the initial stages of onboarding – the paperwork-heavy orientation process– much easier to complete. There is also a variety of software programs that are specifically set up for onboarding.

2. Feedback

giving and receiving employee feedbackFeedback is an effective way to streamline onboarding, and it can be utilized by companies both small and large. Look back to move forward. Feedback helps HR see how past and current onboarding practices work. It provides a glimpse into the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of the process. If a company doesn’t have an onboarding process at all, examine the feedback in a “what if…” scenario.

“What do you think would be the best way to integrate a new employee with the company?”

“Have you heard of the term ‘onboarding’? What does that mean to you?”

“What if we started using a software program to aid with integrating a new employee into our culture?”

The more information human resources has the better, for everyone involved in the hiring and termination process.

3. Set Standards That Are the Same for Everyone

Whatever decision is made about the nature of a company’s onboarding program, keep it consistent throughout the organization. That means the same rules should apply to people working in the mailroom as they do for management. The nature of each position or department does give room for latitude, as the requirements for a salesperson can be markedly different from those for a creative director. But some things are better if they are completely consistent, such as paperwork, when health benefits go into effect, and workday length.

4. Training Needs

This is absolutely something that will vary according to a person’s position in the company. For example, a receptionist may be hired who has tremendous scheduling experience, but has to learn your company’s proprietary system. HR should look at an individual’s strengths and weaknesses as well, to determine if a new-hire needs to brush up on his/her skills. That is best determined by the people doing the hiring—HR. If the onboarding process is done right, that employee will demonstrate loyalty and superior productivity. Done wrong, the onboarding process will simply contribute to high turnover rates.

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