When it comes to onboarding new starters, first impressions count.
But we’re not talking about what you think of them. Their perceptions in those early stages of onboarding are just as important.
Because according to Research by Brandon Hall Group, organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
However, Gallup found that only 12% of employees “strongly agree” that their organisation does a great job of onboarding new employees. And with Microsoft revealing as much as 77% of remote-working Gen-Zs were considering quitting their jobs, it’s more important than ever to get things right from the outset.
So, what can employers do differently?
The value in taking things slowly
Comma is a fintech startup that’s operating under a hybrid model. Consequently, staff are part-based in a co-working space and spend the remainder of their time WFH.
So, what does this mean for new starters?
Well when it comes to onboarding grads to a hybrid working model, the company takes things gradually.
“For the first few weeks, we spent more time in the office doing group sessions and training. Once the team was up to speed the days spent in the office slowly rolled down and we found a good balance at around 1 per week,”says Nick Adamou, Marketing Manager at Comma.
And with studies revealing that up to 75% of Gen Z prioritise a healthy work-life balance, this solution seems to make sense.
But those first few days of work need to be just as engaging as the next few months/years of their careers – if not more so. That’s if you’re serious about retaining talent, anyway.
Unfortunately, many employers haven’t quite got the memo.
Worryingly, 58% of organisations say their onboarding program is focused on processes and paperwork. Worse still, Sapling reveals that the average onboarding process consists of 54 of these types of activities, including:
- 3 documents to sign, upload, or acknowledge
- 41 administrative tasks to complete, e.g. desk set-up
- 10 outcomes around company culture, market knowledge and role alignment
Doesn’t sound particularly engaging in person, let alone remotely – right?
So, how can employers ensure remote onboarding’s not such a drag? It seems tricky when there are boxes that will always need to be ticked. Can it ever really be as fun as it is a formality?
Flipping the script on traditional onboarding
When moving to a hybrid model, B2C eCommerce brand LoveCrafts was mindful of the effect this would have on new starters and adjusted their processes accordingly.
“At LoveCrafts. we’ve shifted our entire onboarding structure in line with our hybrid remote principles to ensure all new joiners have a great experience,”says Cecilie Hjorthenborg, the eCommerce brand’s People Advisor.
The new process at LoveCrafts means that:
- onboarding starts early – admin and paperwork are taken care of before new joiners start so they can get straight into more relevant and exciting things on their first day.
- There’s more 1:1 time – all new starters have face-to-face time with their manager on the first day and 1:1 sessions with everyone in their team during the first week.
But this kind of support doesn’t stop there.
“New joiners are now paired up with a ‘buddy’ to help them settle into the business,” says Hjorthenborg. So while the manager can support them with role-specific queries, “…their buddy can help them see for real how we live out our values day to day, gain a network within the business and point them towards the right person for specific questions. Not to mention, making sure they’re aware of socials and other events that are going on.”
The buddy system is also something that’s been implemented at Amphora Research; a company that’s now operating remotely full-time. This senior member of staff who is the buddy is introduced to the candidate during the second interview and remains with the new starter for at least six months into their role. Importantly, they’re always on hand to touch base.
“Particularly when we hired in the height of covid, our grads had check-ins with their buddy every day for the first couple of weeks,”says Simon Coles, Co-founder and CEO.
After that period, this generally transitions into once a week for the next six months.
It’s no secret that you’ll only get out of staff what you put in – especially first-time workers who need extra support and mentoring. But the first step towards a happy, fulfilling career is onboarding – and that takes investment too.
Treating onboarding like a long-term investment
Ask any ‘office-based’ employer what tools they use and the list is likely to be similar; Slack, Zoom, Trello – you get the gist.
The thing is, many of us were using these tools in the office before going remote. And what’s unclear is whether staff have all the physical tools they need to carry out their day-to-day tasks comfortably and competently.
“Along with ensuring everyone knows how to use Zoom and Teams confidently, our main focus is tech in the workspace,” says Simon Coles at Amphora.
And this is taken care of from the offset during onboarding.
“Everybody has a decent laptop and screen when they start. But on top of that, we ensure they’ve got a good camera, lighting and, crucially, their audio setup works,” he says.
Although this may seem costly for some IT budgets, it is an investment that companies can recoup if and when staff move on. Also considering the organisational cost of employee turnover is estimated to be somewhere between 100% and 300% of the replaced employee’s salary, equipment prices seem manageable by comparison.
Having the right setup also ensures that any nervous new starters will be in the best possible headspace they can be in those early meetings; the tech is one less thing they have to worry about.
But reassurance at work doesn’t just come from tech – we get it.
“That’s why myself and a colleague will always do the interviews. I think that in itself demonstrates to the applicant how important they are,” says Coles.
But it has even more benefits in shaping the applicant’s first impressions of the company, too.
“Essentially, that screening is carried out with the boss – not outsourced. And by meeting me early, they can quickly realise I’m human and that there’s nothing to worry about,” he continues.
The potential in getting things right early
Research suggests that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding. Not only that, employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with that organisation after three years.
But nothing lasts forever.
“The reality is, we’re their first job. And that means we will lose them at some point,” says Coles. “However, the longer we can retain them, the more of our investment we get back. And the more they feel that this is a place they can learn, grow and get a better next job, the longer they’ll stay.”
Seems pretty straightforward, right?
Well just like the talent’s worth investing in, so too is your onboarding process.
The camera’s on, time to show off your best side.
If you need any help hiring gen-z or even just fancy a search to see what’s out there, head on over to our grad recruitment app and check out today’s burgeoning talent.