How to develop an onboarding and induction programme that truly supports your HR strategy

Did you know that nearly 20% of staff turnover happens within the first 45 days of a new employee starting work? Staggering isn’t it? Staff churn is a costly issue for businesses. Many of them spend considerable amounts of money during the recruitment process, only to lose candidates within their first few weeks as new starters realise that what has been sold to them during the interview process doesn’t quite match reality.

At Let’s Talk Talent, we know bringing people up to speed is a key focus within the HR planning process. But before launching into a bulleted list of tips on how to ensure people feel at home in their new role, we like to do things right. And that means making sure this section of your plan fits within your overall HR strategy. Because working on your onboarding and induction programme without a clear overarching objective, set timings or KPIs could lead to your efforts being wasted. This is why we have devised a way to guide you through each of the stages involved in the creation of a brand new HR strategy to ensure it all fits together in a way that guarantees success. And we’ve created this series of article to go through each phase. We’ll be using our Triangle model approach to ensure every single strategic element needed to reach your goal is set in motion, including how to bring people up to speed and avoid losing high potential candidates within their first three months with you.

Supporting your talent pool

Contrary to popular belief, onboarding and induction programmes are not limited to new hires. Put simply, bringing people up to speed is about setting them up for success and ensuring they have the tools they need to perform well at any stage during their professional journey with you. This could be at the start of their employment, during a transition period or when coming back from leave.

A key focus of your efforts should therefore be on your current staff, be it returners or those using internal mobility to further their careers. Vertical or horizontal moves are an important aspect of career development and more and more candidates rely on them to take up new challenges or develop new skills. Assuming those employees do not require as much support as external recruits when settling into their new job could be a costly exercise. And considering the current professional climate, we believe more and more organisations will focus on internal mobility rather than external recruitment. Which makes it more crucial than ever to take the time to help internal movers navigate their new reality.

Returners should also benefit from your (re)onboarding efforts. During the COVID-19 crisis, up to 30% of staff were furloughed in the UK. Assuming they can just come back to work ready and rearing to go without a little TLC could lead to a demotivated and slightly out of touch workforce. Employees coming back from parental, sick or compassionate leave or those who were furloughed may have been away for a considerable amount of time, potentially coming back to a different role, or a changed organisational vision. Make sure you don’t forget about them and use onboarding and induction principles set them up for success.

It’s clear that both external joiners and existing employees need extra care and attention at the beginning of their journey. Just as they are for any leader, the first 100 days are critical for all new starters and focussing on filling forms, equipment requests or the location of the nearest microwave isn’t quite what recruits need the most. So as we go deeper into this building block, ask yourself: what are you doing to ensure staff have everything they need to do the job they were hired to do?

Onboarding, it’s not about gimmicks

Many organisations assume that simply having an onboarding programme is sufficient. We like to go further. A checklist drawn up by HR of all mandatory training or a welcome box full of branded goodies does not an induction make. Onboarding new starters should be part of everyone’s to-do list. And true job satisfaction doesn’t come from cake and gimmicks. For an induction to be successful, you’ll need more than welcome beers around the conference table. Your focus should be on giving employees what they need to do their jobs successfully and be fully operational within the first 90 days. Which is not to say that cake isn’t a nice touch. Just more of a nice to have.

Onboarding principles

So, how can you make sure your onboarding and induction efforts are as effective as possible? Easy. By focusing on what’s important. And for us, that’s the 5Cs checklist:

  1. 1. Cared for

  2. This is the golden thread and should be at the centre of everything you do to make new staff feel special. It’s about talking to people’s hearts, listening to their needs and confirming they have made the right choice. And with current virtual onboarding requirements and the challenges they bring, you may have to be even more creative than usual to give people the tools they need to perform well.

  3. 2. Culture

  4. In order to be truly motivated, employees need to emotionally connect with the direction of the organisation. They also need to ensure their values match yours, so they can feel assured they can bring their whole selves to work. Make sure they are able to quickly get what it means to work for you, and remove any barriers that could prevent them from being fully themselves at work.

  5. 3. Connections

  6. Many induction programmes will include meetings with immediate stakeholders, but it is important to go beyond that. It’s up to you to generate opportunities for new hires to meet people from all over the business so that staff can create cross-business networks. Relationships, wherever they may be, are more important than ever. Over 40% of adults report feeling lonely , and building new ties at work can help new hires feel like they belong.

  7. 4. Compliance

  8. This section should help give new starters answers to the ‘How do I get things done here’ question. It should focus on people understanding your systems and processes and go through any specific training they may have to do to become autonomous. It’s important to make it simple and avoid any organisational jargon that could make them feel like outsiders.

  9. 5. Clarification

  10. Having a clear structure and defined roles may seem obvious, but it is often the woolly part of the plan. Before ticking it off, ask yourself: do employees know what good looks like within your company? How is performance measured and rewarded? This is about going through organisational goals and making sure everyone knows how they can contribute to reaching them.

Firms often expect employees to be productive within their first 90 days, but very few have onboarding support in place to achieve this. Client OilTanking is a great example of innovation with its Employee Checklist, developed in collaboration with Let’s Talk Talent. Given to all new joiners, the tool goes through the company’s values, mission and corporate objectives as well as clearly stating expectations for the first 5, 30 and 90 days of staff’s journey with the business. The initiative also includes a list of mandatory training, a buddy system to facilitate networking and feedback mechanisms to ensure continuous developmental feedback.

Bringing people up to speed: conclusion

Creating a new HR strategy that will both entice great talent and retain them within the business is not a small task and should stretch over a few years in order to generate meaningful change. But whilst such an enterprise can be daunting, it’s important to remember that a strategy is merely a plan, and that it can be broken down into key elements based on your key objective. Should your main organisational issue be centered around reducing staff churn and attracting the right fit for your business, then onboarding and inductions should be an important pillar within your overall strategy as it will positively impact both sides of the talent management coin. Alternatively, a bad onboarding experience can both be costly in terms of return on investment and also affect your reputation in the recruitment market as disappointed candidates are likely to share their experience with their peers.

If you need any help developing this building block, whether it is to support your internal mobility program, to re-onboard furloughed staff or to give new hires a great experience with you, and our team will be happy to have a discussion about your needs.

You might also want to take a look at our free re-onboarding checklist for a starter for then on how to bring back staff in a way that rejuvenates and re-motivates them.

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