Employee Onboarding SuccessWhen you think of “employee job training,” what comes to mind? Teaching your employees how to use a new technology? A class to help them improve their customer service skills? Or how about managerial training for your supervisors? While all of these are important training programs to implement, one of the most essential training pieces, onboarding, may actually be the most important part of employee training, yet it is often overlooked or not given the attention it deserves.

Onboarding, as defined by Wikipedia is, “the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders. Tactics used in this process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, or computer-based orientations to introduce newcomers to their new jobs and organizations.” In other words, onboarding is much more than just “employee orientation” – it is the whole process by which you welcome new employees to your company, orient them to your culture, and train them for success. Companies who have structured onboarding programs have employees who will stay longer – one study found that 69% of employees will stay longer than three years if there is a dedicated onboarding program in place.

Does your company have a strategic onboarding training program? Do you have a protocol in place for both your in-house employees and those who work remotely? A shockingly high 90% of new hires decide in the first six months on the job whether or not they will stay with a company. Employees who don’t feel prepared or competent enough in their jobs tend to have higher turnover, have lower morale, and are not as proficient at serving customers. A successful onboarding program requires a dedicated plan, training, and team to engage your new employees, from day one. Below are some essential points to keep in mind when designing an onboarding program that will train your new hires for a successful career with your company.

Engage new employees immediately with a large welcome mat

Joining a new company is a bit like being the new kid in school. Everything feels awkward and new hires feel unsure. Do you remember that feeling of wandering around the lunch room looking for a place to sit? That feeling captures what it’s like to come into a new company where you don’t know the culture, job duties, or what is expected of you to be successful at your job. Companies often throw new employees into the mix, assuming that the established staff will make them feel welcome, but this is not always the case.

To ensure that your new hires feel comfortable, introduce them to the team – in person. (Don’t just send out an email, in other words.) If the new employees work virtually, set up video conferencing so that they can place a name with faces for the people on your team. Assign a person or a few people to be on the “welcome team”; meaning, the person or team who takes the new hire around the office, orients them to the procedures and culture, and is available to answer questions and act as a mentor. Minimize the feelings of uncertainty and of feeling lost for your new hires as much as you can.

Streamline your process and have a consistent onboarding program

If your onboarding process is haphazard, chances are, your new staff members will each get different pieces of essential information, but not necessarily the whole, complete package. Design a strategic onboarding process for each new hire so that you are guaranteeing that there are no redundancies, that all new employees receive the same treatment, and that nothing falls through the cracks when training your new team.

Don’t overwhelm your employees in the onboarding process

Taking on a new job is a stressful endeavor, and all too often, new employees feel like they are drinking out of a fire hose. Make the process more pleasant by breaking down your onboarding training into sections or phases so that the employees have enough time to assimilate the new information before they move onto the next phase in their orientation and training process. Plan to spread out your onboarding training over a period of a few weeks, or even a few months, so that you can have a culture that allows your new hires to adapt and feel competent at each task before they move onto the next. Though it may cost more upfront to not have your new employees be 100% productive from the beginning, the long-term cost of retaining talent is far worth it.

Onboarding doesn’t end after the first few weeks

Onboarding doesn’t just end after your employees have filled out their new-hire paperwork, met the team, and started working. A successful onboarding program requires follow-up on a frequent basis to make sure that your new employees are understanding their jobs, getting any questions answered, and are integrating with the team. It takes a long time to become a part of a new culture and for one to hit his or her stride, so be patient with your new hires, and give them ample support over the first few months on the job.

How can you improve your onboarding training process?

Read this onboarding case study, and learn more about how you can use onboarding training to improve turnover rates and increase customer satisfaction.