What is onboarding?
Even the most well-known of companies look different from the outside. When any new employee starts, they need to be integrated into their team and your wider organisation. That’s where onboarding comes in.
As well as introducing your company, its goals and the industry landscape, onboarding should help new employees to understand your work culture. It should also give them the tools they need to excel in their new roles.
Crucially, effective onboarding goes far beyond orientation, lasting months instead of days or weeks.
Most companies will have different onboarding processes, but common elements will generally include at least some training, introductory meetings with key personnel and, potentially, mentoring.
Why is the onboarding process important?
Organisations around the world put great effort into creating and tweaking onboarding programmes. But why is a good onboarding process so important?
It creates engagement
The primary goal of any onboarding programme is to integrate new employees into your company and its culture. You should aim to demonstrate how your company and its employees live by your core values, attracting the buy-in of your new executive. The more engaged they are, the happier they will be and the greater their output will be. If you do an exceptional job of engaging them, they will even become advocates for it.
Success can be defined
It’s vital that, from day one, new employees know how to meet and exceed expectations. They need short-term goals to measure their own progress and recognise their successes.
For executives, this is even more crucial: they’re used to working autonomously and holding themselves to account.
Identifying progression pathways
When starting at a new organisation, it can take time to realise where opportunities for progression lie. Plus, any new employee will want to see chances for learning and professional development. These should be set out soon after a new recruit starts – and then reviewed as they settle into their role.
Not only will the employee appreciate this proactive approach, but the company will also benefit from a motivated individual bringing new knowledge and skills to the team.
New recruits feel valued
Devising a carefully thought-out onboarding process lets new employees know that they’re valued – and that you appreciate the importance of proper training. By contrast, a cursory, box-ticking onboarding programme will make people feel neglected, resulting in immediate demotivation.
This is why employee onboarding is important. It can influence employee behaviour and performance – positively or negatively.
What makes a good onboarding experience for executives?
Although they can also take part in more general onboarding activities, executives need specialised programmes to reflect their priorities, skills and senior roles within organisations. Effective executive onboarding will often mean one-on-one coaching, taking into account their individual roles and requirements. Onboarding sessions are also an opportunity to reconcile any differences in management style or ways of working.
We specialise in executive onboarding, helping your leaders settle in quickly and hit the ground running – so they can immediately make a difference.
What are the four phases of onboarding?
A common mistake that many organisations make is having an onboarding process that only lasts a few weeks. They assume that it should only include getting new hires acclimated to their new surroundings. The most effective onboarding programmes can actually last more than a year and often have distinct phases.
At the most basic level, onboarding involves making sure new employees know where everything is at the office and know what’s expected of them. Before their first day, it’s a good idea to get in touch and see if they have any questions about their role or the company. Not only will this help them with practical considerations, but it’ll also show them you’re planning for their arrival.
On a new starter’s first day, it’s absolutely vital to provide a warm welcome, introducing them to team members and giving them insight into the company culture. It’ll then be easier for them to find their own place within your organisation.
For executives, it’s especially important to clearly define the leadership structure and arrange introductions to other executives.
Bespoke coaching and development
Even after a successful interview, the reality of a role might not always be completely clear. Providing coaching customised to the role will let new hires know exactly what their job entails and how they’re expected to do it.
Since the purpose of onboarding is to integrate new additions into a team and organisation, it only makes sense that it should involve progress checks. They can be as simple as general check-in meetings, but the emphasis should always be on two-way, open communication – to gain a true picture of how your new executive is fitting in.
How does a positive onboarding experience improve employee retention?
If you get onboarding right, your new employees will be engaged in your company’s mission and culture, from day one. First impressions matter and a disorganised, unprofessional onboarding process will lead new starters to assume the rest of the organisation is mismanaged. A poor experience could even leave them feeling they made the wrong decision in accepting the role.
A more positive experience, on the other hand, will set them up to succeed. By helping them settle into their role, offering the right amount of guidance and giving them a meaningful introduction to the team, you’ll enable them to do their new job well. People who feel comfortable and competent in their roles are more likely to stay in a job.
Ultimately, onboarding sets the tone for an employee’s time at an organisation – and can influence that length of time. It’s a chance to bring a company and a new hire together, creating a solid connection and making sure you get the best from the person you’ve decided can improve your organisation.