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3 HR Tips For Successful Onboarding

Savvy recruiters know that sourcing talent is only the beginning of their talent acquisition responsibilities. While employee orientation, training, and onboarding can be costly and negatively impact time-to-hire, it is also an essential aspect of building a high-performing workforce. Time and time again, a practical onboarding strategy has been shown to drive employee engagement and improve an employer's brand, leading to longer retention and more cohesive and productive teams.

Unfortunately, despite being such an essential aspect of workforce development and business success, onboarding is often overlooked by talent managers. However, the most successful hiring managers and recruiters are aware that onboarding is not merely something that can be taken care of day one of a new hire's career. It is an ongoing process with several phases to help reduce attrition and improve your recruiting ROI. Here are three tips for developing your own onboarding strategy to reap better results from your talent sourcing efforts.

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1. Make Onboarding Part of Recruiting

If you think that onboarding should begin on an employee's first day, you are mistaken. Understand that during the recruiting phase, most of a candidate's interaction with and the impression of a company will be formed with whomever they interface with the most -- usually a recruiter or hiring manager. Understanding this, it's their job to make the most of these communications and to convey the employer brand that attracted the talent in the first place. Share the company's goals, values, and culture early on in the conversation. This will help you to attract candidates into your talent pipeline who are interested in becoming part of your organization and whose personalities are most likely to jive well with its ethos.

One of the ways you can help new hires is by managing their expectations from the beginning of what the job and the working environment will be like. Don't assume that your job has ended once the person is placed in the role, as reducing turnover and hiring high-performing employees is a significant responsibility of recruiters. Recruiters can help their new hires start on the right foot by helping to plan their first day. Make sure their supervisor will be there to greet them and consider assigning a coworker in a similar role to be their buddy and help them with any questions. If possible, consider being present yourself for at least part of the day. As the recruiter who helped land them the job, you have hopefully already established some trust and a relationship that will reassure them as they learn the ropes. You may even want to schedule a lunch or a phone call with them a few months after they begin the job and check in on them regularly to see how they are settling in.

2. Connect Emotionally with Recruits

How your company connects with your new hires is a vital part of your talent brand and will set the tone for the relationship they have with you as an employee. A study by the Aberdeen Group showed that up to 86% of employees cite their onboarding experience as a deciding factor of whether they decide to stay or leave during their first six months on a new job. With this in mind, it's important for talent managers to be mindful of how their onboarding program makes employees feel in their early days with a company.

Keep in mind that high-potential talent may even have other offers they can consider if things go sideways. This means that proper induction and onboarding become even more crucial if you want them to stick around and grow with your organization.

Here are three ways you can forge a stronger emotional connection between employees and employers during the onboarding process:

  • Understand your own company culture. Before you can sherpa someone through the onboarding process, you'll want to make sure you have an accurate assessment of how your employees feel. Tools like TINYpulse can help you survey your workforce to see how they feel. Once you've done that, you can use a tool like Vitru to pre-screen candidates for cultural fit.
  • Show appreciation. Onboarding can be a stressful and confusing time for new hires. With all of the new information and challenges being hurled their way, a little praise can go a long way as they navigate the transition. Make sure that managers are offering them specific recognition for their performance as they acclimate to their new role and that they are receiving frequent feedback.
  • Keep your door open. Challenges may occur along the way. 22% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days of starting a new job. Make sure that your door is open if they have any concerns and that you are providing adequate support and resources to get them through those sometimes stressful early days.

3. Don't Forget Freelancers and Contractors

We've spoken at length about some of the differences between recruiting full-time employees and those in the gig economy, but those unique considerations also extend to their onboarding needs. Freelancers and gig economy workers often work independently and off-site. Unlike traditional employees, they can't just walk to someone's desk when something pops into their head or they want to ask a question. With this in mind, some specific challenges freelancers face may damage a company's productivity and overall quality of their work product. However, there are ways that recruiters can influence the onboarding process for freelancers to help ease a smoother transition to the team. Some things you can do include:

  • Introductions to colleagues via video chat platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts
  • Conducting meetings via video chat rather than over the phone
  • Providing a complete list of team members as well as their photos and contact info

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The role of a recruiter goes beyond merely sourcing and hiring personnel. Ideally, they should be a proactive part of the HR team and active in the onboarding process to make sure not only that the right person is being hired, but that new employees also transition smoothly into their new roles. By following the steps above, you can make sure that your recruiting efforts are also aligning with your onboarding strategy.

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Julie Briggs

Julie Briggs is an independent business and HR blogger based in New York City. She is a 2011 magna cum laude graduate of Purchase College with a bachelor's in Sociology. Her career has spanned internationally and across a diverse array of industries. She specializes in human capital, recruiting, leadership, and employee engagement.

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