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Effective Onboarding


14th September 2022

by Amanda McCulloch

The process of recruiting a new employee does not end with the signing of a contract, agreeing on a start date, and providing a friendly induction on their first day.

Retention And Productivity

Onboarding is a crucial process that's a big part of ensuring your recruitment is successful. Don't underestimate the significance of being prepared and welcoming for new employees, especially in a thriving employment market where opportunities are plenty and heads can be more easily turned if regrets about joining your company begin to creep in.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation replacing workers who have moved on is one of the most expensive ongoing investments companies have to make.

Independent estimates suggest it can cost in the region of £30,000 to replace the average worker and, since great onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% it's a business imperative to get it right.

Clarify The Terminology

The terms induction, orientation, and onboarding are sometimes used interchangeably, which is confusing. I think it helps to look at the onboarding of new employees in three different phases:

  • Induction: The essential paperwork and compliance-related housekeeping (contract, payroll, bank details), IT access and equipment, and employee handbook review of key policies.
  • Orientation: to meet co-workers, and direct reports, tour facilities, learn more about the organisation, culture, values, and job requirements (developing on what was shared during the interview process).
  • Ongoing onboarding: Build on the induction and orientation with a range of activities that help the employee learn about the business environment, and gain the knowledge and skills they need to become an effective member of your company and perform in their job. This is a two-way process with regular reviews and continuity, involving a wide variety of people from across the company to really engage employees. It's iterative too with feedback from people going through the process used to continually improve it for future new employees.

Depending on company size, resources, and role seniority, induction and orientation are usually a day or so, and ongoing onboarding can take weeks or months, immersing the newest team member in the way you do things, setting expectations, and ongoing learning and training.

Your company values, culture, team and aspirations are unique, so why shouldn't your onboarding process be too?

Our onboarding process for recruitment consultants includes monthly reviews and milestone appraisals at three, six, and 12 months and a detailed training programme which includes teaching new recruits about how we do things here, the 'TMM Way'.

People-Centred Process

For me, onboarding is very much a people-centred process based on communication and social interaction. It's about integrating with your company culture, and helping new employees to feel welcomed and valued. Done properly, it can impact your bottom line by fostering a sense of commitment, uniting your team, and encouraging employees to stay with you for longer.

Understanding what motivates potential new employees, how they react under work pressure, and the best ways to manage them will help you to personalise the onboarding process.

Onboarding should begin before the employee starts and continue throughout their time at your business. It's an opportunity to set the stage for your new hires and get them excited about becoming part of your organisation and then once hired, it nurtures the opinion that "this is a great place to work".

How Recruitment Contributes

A smooth recruitment process is a foundation for your onboarding process:

  • Write a job description that accurately and clearly reflects the day-to-day duties and responsibilities so there's no mismatch between what the employee expects to do and what they actually do.
  • Involve the line manager in the recruitment and interview process. Not only do they understand the team dynamic they also have knowledge of the job and this is invaluable when writing the job description and asking relevant interview questions.
  • Provide clarity on where the role fits in the organisation, how the person will be managed and appraised as well as how various teams work together.
  • We recommend introducing psychometric assessments because understanding what motivates potential new employees, how they react under work pressure, and the best ways to manage them will help you to personalise the onboarding process.
  • Consider inviting your new hire to meet the team before their first day. We've done this at TMM Recruitment for staff away days and Christmas parties.


Personalise The Experience

Your onboarding process will define your new employee's experience and long-term potential, as you both develop a plan for progression and development. Your company values, culture, team and aspirations are unique, so why shouldn't your onboarding process be too? This enables you to get creative and do things that are surprising. Some things we've witnessed:

  • The head of HR follows up on all offers of employment personally.
  • The CEO who has lunch with every new start.
  • A buddy, someone who can answer questions, always be a friendly face and help them find their way around the tech systems and company processes is assigned to every new member of staff – no matter how senior in the organisation.
  • A virtual introduction to everyone with a welcome email.
  • On the job, interactive training with someone who is accessible and helpful.
  • Use of video and social networks to facilitate information sharing, communication and a sense of community.
  • Clear goals and objectives for regular intervals throughout the first 3 – 6 months of employment.
  • Continually ask for feedback and question "What do you need to do your job better?"

During the onboarding process employees have to deal with a bewildering amount of new information. Employers that focus on what employees need to succeed in these early months of employment will reap the benefits from more effective and committed people. To support this period our recruitment consultants follow-up with every employer and placed candidate during the first 12 weeks of their employment.

While employees do of course move on, for all sorts of reasons, getting them involved and helping them to feel connected and understand what makes your company special can really help to cement them as valued members of the team who become positive ambassadors and contributors.

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