Is your Employee Onboarding a Welcoming Event?

One of my favorite developments has been the progression of ServiceNow’s Onboarding since Istanbul.  The Out-Of-The-Box Portal & Service Catalog, coupled with Knowledge and of course Case Management make up a stable three-legged stool of HR support. Taking it even further with their latest Onboarding and Transitions processes, these components all but guarantee a much better experience for your support teams, Hiring Manager, and New Hire.

And with the recent birth of my fourth grandchild, Connor, I’ve been thinking about process and the onboarding experience even more. Back when our first grandchild was born, my wife and I pitched in to help wherever we could: putting cribs together, painting rooms, and relearning how to install car-seats (awesome new car-seat technology is much easier and safer). While I can say that these activities eventually all got done, I have to admit that many of them were completed just-in-time rather than planned ahead of time.

Similar to preparing for a new child, your employee onboarding process is an iterative learning process that improves over time with experience. By Connor’s arrival, our family knew exactly what to do, and for good reason. Our family’s baby “Onboarding process” is well established. We have everything down pat, from getting Social Security Cards, integrating him to his brother & cousins (and the dog), to the first-month schedule, and organizing the Christening.

Unlike babies, new hires don’t spend their first few weeks on the job sleeping and crying. Their onboarding is high stakes: for your business, and your clients. So understandably, it’s important to ask yourself, “Is my  company investing in an efficient, well-organized Onboarding process  for our employees?”

Is your Onboarding experience a welcoming one?

Why is it important to have a welcoming onboarding experience for new employees? Hiring staff, training new hires, and quickly integrating them into your team is a constant and costly challenge. There are plenty of hiring calculators out there that will help you determine the costs (real & hidden).

  • Glassdoor calculates it costs approximately $4,000 and takes over 50 days to hire a new worker.
  • If your employees are leaving quicker than you think they should, take a look at your onboarding process and new hire orientation. Employees who have had a structured orientation and meaningful onboarding experience are ~70% more likely to stay with a company for three years (due to clear expectations, viable goals, and an understanding of how much you have invested in them).
  • Worried about the cost to upgrade your onboarding? Think again.
    • Based on the costs referenced above, not having to hire 10 people a year due to turnover could save $40,000.
    • Invest a portion of that into a better Onboarding process and New Hire experience will result in big savings later on.

Great vs. Poor Onboarding Experiences

In my career, I have had both quite good and exceptionally poor onboarding experiences.

The poor onboarding experiences are ones where:

  • I sign an offer letter, work out a start date, then hear nothing.
  • I show up to a disorganized scrum of bewildered new hires, all sharing my same worries and confusion.
  • I sit at a temporary desk while mine is being set up, with loaner equipment while mine is being procured.
  • My personal information is entered incorrectly
  • My business cards are misprinted, with my name misspelled and my home number listed instead of my cell number.

The great experiences are the ones where:

  • I received a call from my manager, explaining what to expect on my first day, week and month.
  • I was sent a map of the building, where my cube was located, exits and restrooms clearly marked. They also included parking information. I also received pictures of my new coworkers, with bios, so I would be familiar with my team.
  • I was assigned a “buddy,” who called me and offered to answer any questions I might have. They also gave me a brief overview of the company and talked with me about
    • Taking me to lunch on the first day, even going as far as asking me about my dietary restrictions and allergies.
    • Office dress code
    • How they would be writing an introduction email to the team and wanted to get to know me.
  • Where a member of the team confirmed my information for my business cards and sent me a “proof” for my approval.
  • A “Welcome Basket” was sent to my house with some corporate SWAG, cookies and welcome letter.
  • I was asked what size I would want for the company fleece. (It was folded on my desk with an assortment of office supplies when I showed up)
  • I received some “Pre-Hire” tasks from HR, the Compliance team and IT. I was given a “pre-hire” login for a New Hire site where I could:
    • Fill out my W-9, and some benefit information.
    • Watch videos for compliance.
    • Read and acknowledged IT Usage Policies.
    • Request a Mac or PC computer
    • Access welcome messages from the CEO, CIO, VP of HR, and learn about company history.

As you can see, there are glaring differences between these two types of onboardings. For the good experiences, I felt immediately engaged after accepting my job offer. I also felt like a valued employee before I even started, and this feeling usually persisted (I was at one of these companies for over 7 years). Whereas the poor experiences made me feel worried and uncertain about my new employers.

In a particular company, a person that started the same day as I did was so disappointed in the onboarding experience, she called another company who had offered her a job and left 3 weeks later. I left after 2 years.

What’s frustrating is that the problems I mention under the poor onboarding experience can all be fixed at minimal cost. These improvements result in greater efficiency and improved employee experience. This is critical because, in my personal experience, the companies that have pre-hire tasks for new employees, are able to offer a shorter New Hire Orientation.

What can be done to make your New Hire’s Experience better?

In my comparison of Onboarding to my grandson’s birth, my daughter didn’t bring him into the house and set the car-seat down in the living room and expect him take it from there. When Connor came home from the hospital, we were ready for him. Not that his experience was any better (nor would know any better), but we were better prepared to accept him into the family.

As depicted above, not all of the “good experiences” I had were a significant cost investment, yet all yielded great returns. Conversely, all the “poor experiences” contributed to an unproductive start to my tenure at that company and made me question my choice of accepting a position there.

How do you get your new employee productive quickly?

There are several service teams in your organization that contribute to the New Hire process.  HR, Facilities, IT, Security, Compliance, etc. all provide some effort to bringing on new employees.

Do you know what they need to do for onboarding a new employee? 

I’ve put together a simple Onboarding Process flow to show the tasks and interaction between teams necessary to bring a “Candidate” to “New Hire” to “Fully Onboarded Employee.” The main players are:

  • New Hire. Giving them “Pre-Hire” tasks are a good way to engage them and get some paperwork or other tasks completed before they arrive (ServiceNow does a really good job setting up tasks that the Hiring Manager can check progress on).
  • Hiring Manager. Some organizations I worked with have the Hiring Manager kicking off the process. I caution against using this.  They may hire 1 person per year and to reacquaint themselves with the process may cause delays.
  • Service Teams. The teams that need to perform a number of tasks to successfully Onboard an employee (i.e. IT, HR, Facilities, etc.) or need to work with other service teams to complete a task (as shown between IT and Facilities)

Business Org Chart

Does your Hiring Manager have a place to see all tasks completed and those which may be lagging?

If my daughter is my grandson’s “hiring manager,” she’ll certainly want to track the progress of his “Onboarding”. If my son-in-law is late with setting up a crib or if I’m late in repainting the nursery, she’ll want to know.

Same goes for your New Hire’s manager. Make it easy for them and set them up for success by giving them easy views into the status and stages of their New Hire’s process. Some companies have designated “Onboarding Concierges” that assist Hiring Managers and New Hires.

Is there a designated person on each support team that fields escalations?  If not, the whole team is an open target. The “Onboarding Concierge” would be that escalation point.

Start tracking the time it takes to Onboard a new hire.  Once you have a baseline time, you can investigate ways to improve the experience and reduce the Onboarding time.

When I was a client of ServiceNow, I worked with other teams to improve their onboarding experience:

  • We went from approximately 10 days to less than 3 days to “Onboard” an employee.
  • We didn’t add staff or a bunch of automation. Instead, we reviewed and “white-boarded” all of the moving parts that comprised Onboarding by all Support Teams and used the power of tasks in ServiceNow.

New Hire Onboarding Chart

New Hire Orientation

How can the New Hire Orientation be more meaningful? Is just HR involved or do you have other teams participate too? This is the perfect time to introduce your support team to the New Hires.

I work with clients who ensure that all Support Groups are represented in the New Hire Orientation, which has made it much more meaningful while also reducing the typical “New-Guy” calls to the various teams, again, picking up savings.

As with any process, it must be periodically reviewed and adjusted accordingly. Acorio offers an outstanding Knowledge Product that automates review notification (along with intrinsic approval and archiving processes) to ensure that the review process is adhered to.

Pulling it all together

I compared Onboarding to the birth of my grandson. In some ways a fair comparison, in others not close. Both should be an awesome, welcoming event. The new baby to join the family and the new hire to bring their energy and talents to augment your staff.

From a new employee’s point-of-view, they are joining your work family. What are you doing to make the experience welcoming and productive? Whether they stay for nine-months or 30 years depends on many factors. Their first experience shouldn’t have them questioning whether or not it was a good decision to join your organization.

The User Experience team at Acorio, besides onboarding many babies in their personal families, has extensive experience in helping companies with their Onboarding and New Hire processes. Want to learn about how you can improve your onboarding experience? Talk with an Acorio Expert today.

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