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Getting on board with onboarding

04/28/2008

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By Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Most people don't get much sleep the night before they start a new job. Their minds are too busy thinking about how long it will take them to fit in at their new company. Some even wonder if they've just made the biggest mistake of their lives.

Does every employee have to go through this rite of passage or can companies do something to smoothly assimilate new employees into the organization?

Welcome on board

Imagine a place where employees are welcomed before they set foot on company soil. This would be a place where employees feel connected before their first official day of work. Some might even start recruiting their current co-workers to join them on this new journey.

Welcome to the world of onboarding. But what is onboarding, you ask, and why should I consider getting on board? Onboarding is the one chance you will get to create a positive new employee experience. Just think how productive you might have been during your first few weeks or months of employment had your current or former employer taken the time to make you feel welcomed, valued and prepared. You might be thinking that you don't have time to hold someone's hand or that all employees should have to suffer just like you did. Would you feel the same if you knew that with a little effort, you would have more time to focus on other initiatives besides replacing newly hired employees?

Still not convinced? Here are four more reasons why your competitors are jumping on board, while you are still sitting on the sidelines:

Shortened new hire time to productivity

You know you have people on your team who should have been traded a long time ago. You hesitate to do so because even if you hire a superstar, it will be weeks before they become productive. Your overworked team will have to pick up the slack until this new person comes up to speed.

Every day you delay in having your new employees reach minimum productivity goals equates to the loss of thousands of dollars, particularly if these employees are in sales. Yet many companies think nothing of having new employees sitting around waiting for direction from their managers. Delays in productivity can easily frustrate those high achievers, whom you've spent months courting. Many have been known to quickly exit when their former employer calls with the promise of a better offer.

Although providing information and ensuring that all forms are completed is necessary, it should not be the primary goal of integrating a new employee into the organization. The goal should be to get employees involved in their jobs from day one.

Reduction of initial errors

We've gotten to the point where we accept errors as something that just happens whenever a new employee is brought into the fold. Would you be so accepting if these errors resulted in disappointed customers and frustrated co-workers? Most likely not.

A good onboarding program can significantly reduce the likelihood of errors being made by newly hired employees. The program consists of checks and balances to ensure that employees have all the information and support they need before they fly solo.

Increased retention

Most employees don't leave their companies. They leave their managers. The majority of managers really want to do a good job of managing. However, they are often challenged to do so because the organization has failed to provide the tools they need to be effective leaders.

Imagine if every supervisor in your company had a playbook they could follow that would ensure all of your employees were trained properly. The anxiety level, normally associated with starting a new job, would drop dramatically. Employees would know that, after years of searching, they have finally found a place to call home.

Accelerated profits

It's no secret that happy employees are more productive. And that productivity is directly related to profitability. Do the math and you'll see that it all adds up. Investing in an onboarding program can have a dramatic impact on profitability.

If you are still sitting on the sidelines after reading this article then maybe it's time for you to change teams. Your experience at your new company will most likely be a painful reminder of what new hires experience when they join a new team.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the principal of Human Resource Solutions and is an expert on intergenerational workforce issues. She is also a NEHRA member. She can be reached at roberta@yourhrexperts.com or (617) 566-8978.


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