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With over 20% of staff turnover occurring in the first 45 days of employment, having a strong onboarding process is vital for new hire retention and employee productivity. Effective onboarding improves these metrics by over 82% and 70% respectively, according to research by Glassdoor.
So how can startups and corporations create a modern onboarding program that ramps new hires as quickly as possible while accounting for both remote and in-person roles? Well, the same studies show that onboarding programs that are accessible to employees and that use reinforcement techniques such as active recall see a 27% faster time to productivity and a 61% higher retention rate of information in the first 30 days of starting a new role. So let’s look at how you can create a scalable onboarding process for your new hires and get your people to value as quickly as possible.
The problem with your current onboarding process
It might sound obvious, but the best place to start is by auditing your existing new hire onboarding process. Talk with your existing employees, and understand what they found worked and what didn’t. Then speak to team leads and understand what information they are repeating when new hires join, and what they feel can be improved.
There are then some gold standards for employee onboarding that apply to almost all companies. This includes helping new hires to understand your company culture, customers, product and existing processes. Depending on your industry and the new hire’s role, you might also have mandatory training such as workplace safety, soft skills and sales training or technical skills training such as how to operate IT systems or machinery. The problem with traditional onboarding is that there is often a high cost associated with in-person training, it lacks scalability, and engagement is often hard to measure.
Create a new hire onboarding playbook
Having planned out what is needed, create a new hire playbook for team leads and hiring managers to use. This includes checklists and email templates that can be sent out to save time. This might include sending a new hire welcome pack seven days before the employee’s first day, activating new emails and IT systems five days before their first day, and sending the new hire a schedule for their first few weeks. Ensure onboarding is multi-disciplinary and cross-departmental, and collaborate with your operations team to ensure onboarding documentation is accessible for all employees.
Creating a hybrid video-based remote onboarding program
Similar to using a playbook, using interactive video delivered through web or an app is a great way to scale key information across your organization and reduce costs while tracking engagement. At my company, a video-based onboarding process has reduced new hire ramp time to just 21 days compared to the traditional three months. To do this, break down your onboarding into mini courses, each covering a key topic. For example, an early course might be about your company culture and feature two to three video lessons from the CEO, and then employees might talk about culture and the company’s history and mission to align new employees to the larger company vision.
Make it interactive, short and hybrid
Make onboarding a continuous process. With video-based training, I’d suggest making it interactive with questions or hotspots embedded in the videos so that employees are actively learning and being tested using active recall rather than just passively watching or skipping through a video. Metrics from YouTube show that videos of five to 10 minutes tend to do best, and delivering information concisely ensures employees will stick around till the end. In terms of video production, I would recommend having team leads and those making the videos map out a script, rent or buy a DSLR camera and microphone, and use a green screen or backdrop to increase production value. If you’re a bootstrapped startup, a webcam or iPhone is fine to get going too. Although video is scalable, you want to stimulate in-person and live engagement for new hires, so we typically finish each course with a practical challenge for new hires that can be tracked by team leads. This might include meeting colleagues or attending certain meetings.
Implement an onboarding benchmark against your industry peers for best practices, and get feedback from new hires on your new onboarding process, the videos and the courses to see what is working and what needs iteration. Using a simple form collection tool is helpful and makes sure employees are able to communicate onboarding activities with their manager and team members. Integrate the onboarding process with employee performance review processes and goals, and evaluate new hire activity and participation, communicating any feedback to managers. At my company we use regular check-ins during a new hire’s first three months and brand our interactive video onboarding process as “Virti University,” from which successful new hires graduate and receive swag.
Ensure that both managers and new hires receive consistent feedback throughout the onboarding phase, and keep it positive. Following these steps will make an onboarding process that is relevant, engaging and gets new hires excited about joining your company.
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