Strategic Onboarding -- Help New Hires Belong and Deliver Results

By Amber Hyatt, Vice President of Product Marketing, SilkRoad

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When new hires choose your company as "the one," it's a big deal and it's personal.  There's nothing they want more than to belong -- to fit in, understand their role and learn the ropes.

That's about much more than a task checklist about workspaces, computers and paperwork. Strategic onboarding takes enthusiastic new hires and rapidly engages them into the life of the organization.

Why is engaging new hires so important?

Part of the reason is practical -- recruitment is expensive. Replacement costs are 30 percent of first-year earnings for each position holder, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And the need to replace can happen fast. Twenty percent of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment.

But the biggest bang is the impact on business results. According to Gallup's State of the American Workforce 2017, "engaged employees are more present and productive; they are more attuned to the needs of customers; and they are more observant of processes, standards and systems. When taken together, the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21 percent greater profitability."

The transformation to a strategic onboarding process that begins before the first day and lasts for the first year can change the game, but it requires a new approach:

* Think further than the administrative checklist,

* Connect new hires to the organization and to their colleagues,

* Enable new hires to understand their purpose and value, and

* Leverage analytics for prescriptive optimization and transparency.

5 Essentials for Strategic Onboarding

It's time for employers to take a fresh look at onboarding, raising it out of checklist status and creating a strategic onboarding program. These five essentials show you the way.

Essential No. 1 -- Assess Your Program

Start by assessing the maturity level of your current onboarding program:

1. How well is your external brand leveled throughout the recruitment and onboarding process?

2. How far does your onboarding journey go? 30 days or beyond?

3. How well do you align employees with organizational goals?

4. How would you rate time-to-productivity?

5. Are you able to demonstrate the impact of your people initiatives to the C-suite?

For a full assessment, take SilkRoad's at

Essential No. 2: Develop a Strategic Approach

When every employee is aligned with the business strategy, it drives better business outcomes.  Your strategic onboarding program supports this through a continuous journey of meaningful moments that set job scope, performance expectations and connect to strategic business goals.

Essential No. 3: Create a "Wow" Onboarding Portal

One of the themes in today's HR world is high tech, high touch.  A personalized, information-filled new hire portal speeds the feeling of belonging, learning about the culture and more.

To build a high impact onboarding portal, try this eight-step checklist.

1. Create goals

2. Review your employee audience

3. Think out how to organize information

4. Emphasize what's special about your culture

5. Personalize information

6. Ask managers for ideas

7. Set up feedback mechanisms

8. Find flexible technology

Essential No. 4 -- Manage Employee Transitions

The same processes and technology used for onboarding can also help you take care of:

* Transfers -- offer information about the new office, the new team, geography and even transportation;

* Promotions -- provide the policies and procedures of the new role and automatically alert IT or office personnel to order services;

* Mergers and acquisitions -- introduce culture and policies, provide a channel for questions and get agreements electronically signed; and

* Offboarding -- created good will by providing information, as well as kick off internal exit processes.

Essential No. 5: Build ROI and a Business Case

To build a strong business case for onboarding, you'll need to present measurable ROI, including:

* Number of employees processed per year;

* Cost of "quick quits" and turnover;

* Cost savings on the production and processing of employee materials; and

* Time savings on logistics tracking and the collection of employee documentation.

Beyond the numbers, these tips can help you build your business case:

1. Gather stories of times when onboarding has gone wrong to emphasize the need for change.

2. Compare your onboarding program to one of similar size and sophistication.

3. Collect data on time-to-full-proficiency.  Gather data and then ask the CFO to put a dollar value on it.

4. Suggest a small pilot with a manager "champion."

5. Track retention in high-volume jobs of new hires who participated in onboarding versus those who did not.

Start with these five essentials and you'll experience the big wins of strategic onboarding.

Oct 2, 2017
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