Onboarding Experience Sets the Stage for Retention

Onboarding experience depends on a great process

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The onboarding experience for new hires is the foundation for all your retention efforts. According to Brandon Hall Group, a good onboarding process can increase new hire retention by 82%. Most of the historical focus on onboarding has been about process, but there is a difference between process and experience.

A strong onboarding process is born out of understanding the onboarding experience from the new hire’s perspective. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That applies in spades to onboarding.

Onboarding Experience vs. Process

When it comes to onboarding, there are myriad tasks that need to be completed for the new hire to be productive. From orientation to badges to supplies to equipment and more. This combination of information and materials is integral to an individual feeling empowered to do what they were hired for. The longer it takes to get these in place, the more the new hire can feel out of the loop and ineffective. That’s not good for retention.

It’s not just the employer that wants new hires to be productive quickly. New employees need to feel productive as well. And because the process of getting information and materials into the hands of new hires affects their productivity and their sense of worth to the company, it is a big part of onboarding experience.

Onboarding experience depends on a great processAt the same time there are other tasks that need to be completed for compliance. Handbooks, training, acknowledgements of policies, etc. These arguably have nothing to do with empowerment, productivity and well-being like aforementioned material tasks. But if these tasks are opaque and difficult to complete, new hires can feel frustrated and for these reasons, compliance tasks also contribute to onboarding experience.

Though both of these process aspects of onboarding are part of onboarding experience, they are not synonymous.

Onboarding experience is about feelings. It consists of:

  • How easy the process is
  • How well the new hires needs are met
  • How welcome and secure the new feels

When optimizing your onboarding processes it is important to evaluate them against these onboarding experience criteria. And in order to do that, you need data. Evaluating Onboarding People, Process and Technology

As I said, onboarding experience is about feelings so, while data about task completion is valuable, it doesn’t tell you how the experience is going. You need to know new hires’ feelings about the process, the technologies, and the people involved. For that you need to ask questions.

And guess what? Their feelings will tell you a lot about the process.

The best way to understand how your onboarding process is working is to pulse survey new hires and managers during the onboarding process. Pulsing during the process provides a couple of benefits. 

  1. People will remember more about their experience if you pulse them as they go through it
  2. Getting pulse surveys throughout the process shows new hires that the company cares about how things are going, creating a positive sentiment loop
  3. You can collect fit, performance and attrition data from both the new hire and the manager that can provide a quality of hire metric, and
  4. You stand to lose so many new hires to attrition if your onboarding experience is not going well and you don’t ask about it until months after hire

The bottom line is that new hires will tell you what’s working and what’s not. And their comments provide a blueprint for what is specifically going well or not well. And real time onboarding experience feedback allows organizations to not only optimize their processes and experiences, it allows organizations to triage actual situations that might result in attrition.

So many organizations have moved to feedback based recruiting and improved their talent acquisition experience (and processes) using this method. It’s now time to focus this powerful strategy to reduce attrition in the onboarding process.

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