August 5, 2022

Three keys to a successful strategic onboarding program

In today’s world of work, strategic onboarding is essential to retaining top talent, strengthening the employee experience, and making life easier for HR departments.

First impressions are everything, especially at work. Poor onboarding experiences can lead to increased costs and lower value from new hires, not to mention increased early attrition. Research shows that nearly one-third of new hires start looking for a new job within their first six months.

A great onboarding experience can help ensure you don’t become a part of this statistic. Glassdoor found 91% of employees who rated their onboarding experience as highly effective were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organisation.

There are three keys to a successful strategic onboarding program: people, culture, and milestones and tasks. A consistent, and repeatable onboarding process requires few adjustments and benefits all stakeholders involved. Plus, you’re more prepared to set your new hire up for long-term success. Here, we outline the three keys to onboarding success.

1. People

Successful onboarding programs revolve around two distinct groups of people: new hires and those involved in their onboarding. While it’s important to have a repeatable and consistent onboarding process, it’s also important to understand that your new hire is a unique individual, and you should value them as such. Customise the onboarding experience to help new employees feel connected to your organisation from day one.

The wider organisation, as well as the new hire’s manager and immediate team, are the key groups instrumental to onboarding success. Prepare both peers and managers to educate new hires about important people and processes across your organisation. New employees can bond with their teammates early on and feel more comfortable coming to their peers with questions after the formal onboarding process is done.

2. Culture

According to SHRM, a successful onboarding program covers the four Cs: compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. With the right onboarding program, you can cover all of these and quickly bring hires up to speed so that they feel connected from day one.

Illustrating your company’s mission, vision, and values helps employees find meaning in their roles and see how they are connected to the bigger picture. A great way to do this is to share your annual goals with your employees and help them create goals that clearly show how they contribute to greater success. Having a sense of belonging and purpose is important for fostering employee wellbeing. From an early engagement and retention standpoint, it’s important that new hires understand how their work contributes to organisational success so they can set personal goals that align.

This creates long-term benefits for the whole team, not just new employees.  McKinsey reports inclusion is strongly linked with engagement. Employees with stronger bonds are likely to perform better and stay longer at companies where they feel they belong.

Get some tips on integrating culture into onboarding

3. Milestones and tasks

Milestones and tasks are key components of any job, so it makes sense to start using them as soon as you start onboarding your new hire. Early job accomplishments give new hires a sense that they are succeeding and create lasting motivation as they progress in their jobs. It’s also important to remember that the onboarding experience extends beyond a new hire’s first day or week. Up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment, and according to SHRM, can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment.

Help make the onboarding process faster and easier by giving your new employees the independence to complete some onboarding tasks on their own, like entering personal info, and opting for self-service software that guides them through payroll and HR setup. Read more about how to extend the onboarding process beyond your new hire’s first day.

Every organisation has the tools required to build a successful onboarding program – all it takes is thoughtful planning.

Onboarding should be a fun, inclusive experience for everyone involved. Make it a success at your organisation by creating a consistent, repeatable process that lasts.

Ari Lesniak

Ari is the product owner for Dayforce Onboarding. He takes an entrepreneurial approach to his work and ensures the customer's voice is always top of mind. Ask him about skiing or hiking and you’ll be sure to hear a story or two.

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