Taking on a new team member is a big decision, especially for small businesses, and the recruitment process can be time-consuming and costly. Finding the best person for the job is an important first step, but it's what happens when the person actually starts work that can make or break their success as an employee.
Even if it's an internal promotion, there's a mix of excitement and nerves when a new person starts a job. As an employer, you're unsure if the candidate who shone on paper and during interviews is actually going to excel in the role. You will have chosen them based on their skills and aptitude, but there's still a lot for them to learn, from the physical basics of the workspace to who their co-workers are, what technology and tools they will use, and the wider company culture.
This is where a comprehensive onboarding programme comes in to give your new employee and the business the best possible chance at success. It's about realising potential using a structured approach that fully prepares the person for their position and assists them as they grow into it.
For the business, it means your new employee can become a productive team member in the shortest time possible, so any dip in productivity or customer service is minimised. A well-designed onboarding system can deliver targeted training and orientation, speeding up proficiency and minimising obstacles.
Instead of spending long hours on instruction, managers can focus on building rapport and learning about the new team member's talents and aspirations, which helps ground the employment relationship in mutual understanding and trust.
If the new employee feels valued and supported, they will be better able to concentrate on getting comfortable with their position and the team around them. As well as confirming they made the right decision to join the company, effective onboarding establishes that their performance and success is important and planned.
This all sets a platform for long-term performance, achievement, and loyalty. Research by the Wynhurst Group found new hires who completed a structured onboarding process were 58 percent more likely to remain with the company 3 years later.
Another study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that new employees who didn't get the right direction and support in the first 90 days were unlikely to last much longer than four months in the job. Given the investment required to hire a new employee, failure to properly onboard them is a significant cost to the business.
Of course, despite the best intentions, things can get bumpy. Proper onboarding gives you the best chance of spotting problems early, so you can implement strategies to overcome them. If it all goes badly wrong and there is no option but to exit the person from the business, it will be faster and easier if you have followed a structured process.
This has become especially important since 6 May 2019, as employers with 20 or more employees can no longer use 90-day trial periods and will need official probationary periods to assess new employees.