Employee Onboarding — an Employee Perspective
Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into your organization. Onboarding goes beyond orientation—which typically only covers policies, procedures, and resources.
Onboarding also ensures that new employees establish relationships with their team members, clearly understand roles and expectations, and integrate with your organization’s goals and culture. It’s also different from training and development, which focuses on providing new hires with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform tasks. Successful onboarding often lasts several months to a year after an employee’s first day.
Many organizations understand the benefits of a strategic onboarding program from a leadership perspective. For example, onboarding can improve productivity by 70%, helping fuel business growth and minimize costs. However, effective employee onboarding strategies must also consider the experience from an employee’s perspective. If you’ve had a positive onboarding experience before, you likely remember how this contributed to your success and benefitted your career.
Here's a closer look at why onboarding matters—through the lens of your employees.
Employees can align themselves with your vision and culture
Effective employee onboarding programs immediately immerse new hires in an organization’s purpose, values, and how it aims to fulfill its goals. When new employees understand these aspects of your organization’s culture, they can start aligning their values and behaviors with those of your organization.
This is key because employees that genuinely care about your vision are more likely to meet performance goals and do what they can to see the organization succeed. Employees that are aligned with your vision and culture are also more likely to build relationships with like-minded team members and less likely to leave.
Employees clearly understand their roles, expectations, and opportunities
Have you ever started a new job and felt unsure about what exactly you’re supposed to be doing, whom you are working with, and what to expect from your role in the future? This environment can leave new employees feeling confused, unmotivated, and more likely to turn over.
A successful onboarding strategy clearly defines an employee’s role and expectations from day one. For example, this means understanding:
What are the employee’s priorities, tasks, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are
Who do they work with and how different tasks are delegated?
How team members are expected to communicate
Where and how to access resources
Potential professional development and promotional opportunities
Outlining these factors—a process called role clarification—gives new hires a sense of security and confidence in their roles and day-to-day tasks. New hires that are provided clear, measurable goals to work toward are also typically more motivated, productive, and satisfied in their jobs.
Employees feel engaged and supported
Some organizations invest in an onboarding program for an employee’s first few days but fail to continue onboarding well into the first year of employment. This often leaves employees without the resources needed to feel engaged and supported and can cause high turnover.
With effective employee onboarding, managers regularly check in with new employees—even beyond their first year. Employees also understand where to access the resources and support needed to do their jobs and are offered training and development opportunities as required. Some organizations provide mentorship programs to support new employees as part of onboarding, which is often helpful when managers are time constrained. Combined, these strategies give employees the support and relationship-building opportunities needed to feel engaged in the long term.
Like many other organizations, you may have experienced high turnover in the last couple of years and are rethinking your employee onboarding strategy. As a manager or team leader, defining your expectations is crucial for any onboarding program. However, climbing into your employees’ shoes is also valuable: if you were being hired, how would you feel and what would you want or need to know? Recognizing this perspective can help build your organization’s culture, engage employees, and retain long-term talent.
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