How to reduce turnover and deliver better results with effective onboarding

Lachy Gray, 4 min read

How to reduce turnover and deliver better results with effective onboarding

It's Day 3 for Michael at his new company, and things aren't running so smoothly.
So far, Michael is:

  • Feeling the discomfort of having to ask coworkers about his tasks
  • Unsure of which steps to take and when
  • Overwhelmed reading through a lengthy company binder filled with unnecessary and tedious information
  • Left with no understanding of his expectations within the first week
  • And feeling like a distraction in the middle of someone else's busy day

All because his new company didn't have a structured onboarding program ready when he joined.

Unfortunately, Michael's experience is not uncommon in today's workforce, and onboarding's such as this can result in new employees:

  • Operating in isolation
  • Feeling alone
  • Being expected to digest large amounts of information in short periods
  • Not having the meaningful interaction they need to build a connection with coworkers in the various departments
  • Feeling overwhelmed with new information and where to find it
  • Being forced into a 'sink or swim' mentality

When you look at this list it's not surprising Enboarder reports that 25% of companies will lose up to 60% of their entire workforce within a given year. This is a pretty shocking figure that negatively impacts all involved. The financial cost is significant. Harrison Human Resources reports that the total cost of replacing an employee can vary from 30-150% of their salary.

In my experience I believe four primary elements make a company's onboarding process genuinely successful:

  1. Structure
  2. Communication
  3. Values
  4. Culture
  5. In this article I take a look at the first two.

    Structure

    Investing in the necessary resources to build a sufficient onboarding structure upfront will pay enormous dividends for your company in the long run. As a first step, your leadership team must come together to create this process so that everyone is aligned:

    Here are some solutions for creating a structured onboarding process:

    Create a checklist: In 'WORK RULES!', ex-Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Lazlo Bock, shares a great example of this process and how it worked with his team at Google. After implementing a hiring manager checklist during onboarding for new hires, their ramp time was increased by 25%.

    Build-in objective measurements: Set the expectations early and identify where you'd like your new employees to be within one, two and three months. This works best when the new employee and their team lead set these together.

    Monitor your onboarding process: Within Yarno, we use project management tools like Asana to record our team's orientation sessions, all forms that need to be filled out, and what information needs to be read by new employees. We then use the Yarno platform to embed the most important knowledge from the onboarding so that all new employees can easily find and retain that information in the future.

    Since 2018 we've worked closely with Grant Broadcasters, a family-owned radio broadcaster in regional Australia. Being a distributed workforce, Grant Broadcasters regularly have new account managers starting all around the country. Onboarding them in a consistent way was challenging yet critical, to give them the best chance to contribute to their station's revenue.  

    We introduced a structured onboarding program for Grant Broadcasters within the Yarno platform, that presented the same information to all new hires - regardless of where they were located. We created a four week, day by day program, supported by customised onboarding campaigns that covered Grant Broadcasters' processes and sales techniques. The program helped to clarify information and familiarise new employees.

    With this disciplined approach to onboarding, Grant Broadcasters' new employees are feeling comfortable and have greater confidence to start selling sooner.

    More on Grant Broadcasters' results here.

    Communication

    If employees aren't engaging within their first week, then there's a high chance they're already thinking of moving on. So it's crucial to facilitate this engagement with open and effective communication, that will help retain your staff and increase your company's profitability.

    Here are some solutions to develop better internal communication for more effective onboarding:

    Ask for feedback: You can do this in a couple of ways:

    • Ask existing staff: What themes have appeared? What has been their experience observing new starters within the first three months? For each department, what have been the most common requests from new starters?
    • Ask new employees: What's their feedback on the process? What else would they like to learn to improve their experience? Another approach is to share an anonymous survey for the entire group to voice concerns without fear of retaliation.

    Easy access to information: To help all staff communicate more effectively, it's important for new employees to have the proper platform(s) they need and to contact their colleagues openly if there's something they cannot find.

    Proactively prepare for objections: Objections towards onboarding are common and include examples such as, "We don't have time to onboard. We're hiring because we're too busy!" Identifying and preparing for these objections early will allow your company to overcome them swiftly so there are no kinks in the chain and momentum is maintained.

    If you've developed an effective process within your organisation, then you'll know that onboarding works better when all efforts point in the same direction.

    If you haven't set one up yet, then I'm confident you'll now begin to see the benefits that effective onboarding will have for the cohesion, productivity, and profit of your organisation.

    The first three months are vital to setting your new employees up for success. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management found that new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organisation after three years.

    So to keep the conversation going, I'd love to know what has been your experience developing an effective onboarding process, and how has it worked for your new employees and the growth of your company?


Lachy Gray

Lachy's our Managing Director. He's our resident rationalist and ideas man. He also reads way too many books for our liking.

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