· Eve Church  · 5 min read

The Secret Ingredient in a Great Onboarding Strategy

A great onboarding strategy has a vital part to play in helping new employees feel welcome. But how do you make sure yours checks all the boxes?

It’s no secret that a great onboarding strategy has a critical part to play in helping new employees feel welcome, engaged and productive from the moment they join your organization. But how do you make sure that your onboarding program checks all the right boxes?

Research shows that a great onboarding experience can increase new-employee retention by a massive 82% and productivity by more than 70%. Those are some serious numbers! But what happens if your onboarding program is failing to impress your new hires?

Chances are they’ll have lost confidence in you as an employer and will end up quitting within the first twelve months.

Too many companies make simple errors when it comes to onboarding new people, for example, it might not seem like a huge problem, but one thing you shouldn’t be focusing so heavily on is what your business actually does.

Of course you need your new people to know what you do - but you need to place the emphasis on the why you do it rather than the nuts and bolts of what you do.

So is this the secret ingredient that will make sure your onboarding is on point? And what else do you need to make sure you’ve implemented?

The secret ingredient in a great onboarding strategy

To instill confidence in your new employees from the get-go you need to have a number of bases covered. This is where having a new hire checklist can come in so handy as it will prevent you from missing any of the key steps.

We also recommend creating new hire checklists for different categories of employees as what you need to cover for someone starting work in your IT department could be very different to someone who’s about to join the sales team.

For more helpful guides to new hire checklists, take a look at these blogs:

But back to our onboarding strategy and the importance of telling your newbies why you do something. Why is it so crucial?

The thing is, the way your organization works is a huge part of your company culture. If you don’t ensure that your new hires are familiar with the whys of your procedures, policies, processes and practices you’re not giving them the insight they need to integrate with your culture.

Although it might not be intentional, by only explaining what you do, you’re creating a barrier that makes it more difficult for them to assimilate and become a productive and engaged employee from day one.

Give people a reason to integrate with your culture

As humans, we naturally like to feel like there is a reason for the things that we do - or are asked to do, in the name of employment. We like to understand the why.

As a business leader or manager, you will find that you are more effective when you provide the person who you are asking to complete a task with a reason. With a ‘because’.

In the case of your new hires, telling them why your company does something will, therefore, be more meaningful than simply telling them what you do. For example:

“We have a team stand-up meeting every day at 10am.” Or…

“We have a team stand-up meeting every day at 10am so we can all let each other know what we’re working on and ask for any help if needed.”

The second statement is likely to be more effective and memorable as it provides a reason as to why you hold daily stand-up meetings rather than simply stating the fact.

Putting the why into onboarding

We’re not suggesting that you have to offer an intricate and highly detailed explanation for every single item on your new hire onboarding checklist but providing some background for the procedures that relate to your company culture or your mission will be helpful. For example:

  • Explain what your company mission is - and why it exists and how it feeds into your culture
  • Tell new hires what perks you offer - and why you have them and how they can benefit from them
  • Ensure they understand the various steps of your onboarding process and know why they have been put in place - for example, why your buddy program is so successful and how it can help them integrate more easily

One word of warning, if you’re struggling to come up with a ‘why’ - why you do something this way instead of that way, why you have a headphones policy, or why you offer duvet days that could be a sign that that particular process, perk or policy isn’t actually that relevant.

Moving forward with ‘why’

In fact, examining every aspect of your organization from the perspective of why can be extremely useful in making sure that all of your policies and procedures are as valuable as they can be.

Whether it’s your employee engagement strategies, your internal training sessions, your retention strategy or the way you recognize and reward staff, taking a step back and asking yourself why that particular thing exists will help you develop stronger strategies and plug any gaps or weaknesses.

The secret ingredient of a great onboarding strategy: conclusion

There are many factors that go into really nailing an onboarding program that makes new employees want to stick around for longer than a few short months. The aforementioned buddy program is one, incorporating company org charts is another.

Using a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) that has an inbuilt employee onboarding feature will also help to create engagement and enable new hires to be productive as soon as they join you.

And while there are just as many don’ts as there are do’s when it comes to onboarding, we strongly recommend including the secret ingredient - why - into your program.

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