Introducing an employee to your organization can be deceptively straightforward. It looks like a series of simple steps from making an offer and filling out paperwork to explaining policies and arranging for a desk, chair and computer. But this process brings with it a crucial opportunity to pave the way for influencing that employee’s future performance, success in their role, and overall satisfaction with their job.
Applying best practices to onboarding pays off in the long term, but the number of boxes to tick for each employee can be daunting. Fortunately, there are ways to simplify the process so that you can make a great impression every step of the way.
In this article we’ll quickly go over the importance of well-thought-out onboarding, summarize onboarding best practices, and then explore how Myndbend Process Manager for Zendesk can automate the most tedious and time consuming aspects of a successful onboarding process.
Why well-planned onboarding processes are important
Just as you may be looking for ways to justify bringing in the latest member of your team, your new employee will be looking for evidence that he or she made the right choice in saying yes to your offer. Making a good impression is key to putting the employee at ease, which helps them demonstrate their worth early on.
According to Talya N. Bauer in her PDF SHRM’s Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success, “Research and conventional wisdom both suggest that employees get about 90 days to prove themselves in a new job. The faster new hires feel welcome and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission.”
Bauer cites the following statistics in her report: Every year in the US, more than 25 percent of the population that is working experiences a career transition. Approximately 500,000 managers are hired in Fortune 500 companies, and in general, managers begin new roles after two to four years. This frequency is partly due to the fact that half of all hourly employees give up on new jobs within the first four months, and half of outside hires at the senior level fail within 18 months.
Onboarding is one of the greatest challenges to an organization’s ability to be forward thinking, collaborative between departments, insightful and efficient -- and clearly not enough companies are doing all they can to turn the challenge into an opportunity.
HR onboarding the right way
When they’re doing it right, companies customize their formal onboarding process to reflect their unique culture and processes. It is important, however, that as they plan and document the step-by-step process that all new employees go through, all companies incorporate onboarding best practices based on “The Four Cs”:
Compliance -- This is considered Level One, or the minimum requirement for onboarding, and involves teaching new employees the basics about rules, policies, regulations and other legal aspects of working for your company.
Common HR tasks associated with compliance include acquiring a new employee’s sign off that they have received and read the employee manual and documents that explain policies on sexual harassment, illegal drug use, etc.
Clarification -- Companies at Level Two make sure that beginning employees are clear about what their job is, how their performance will assessed and successes defined, and expectations.
At this level, HR will need to obtain paperwork regarding each employee’s job description, evaluation forms, etc.
Culture -- Level Three onboarding processes not only incorporate the first two levels, but introduce employees to both formal and informal cultural norms that capture the heart of the company, its mission, and the way things truly get done. According to Bauer’s report, only about 20% of companies get to this level.
Tasks associated with enculturation include taking the new employee on a tour of appropriate areas and the company network / intranet, making sure they get introduced to the right people, and reading corporate literature about the brand, history and mission. This is also an important time to demonstrate that your organization has its act together by having all the necessary workspace, network and security permissions, email accounts, and equipment ordered ahead of time.
Connection -- The best kinds of onboarding systems include all of the above, plus an emphasis on key interpersonal relationships and groups.
Tasks at this level can include scheduling introductory meetings with other direct and indirect reports and peers, arranging assignments to groups, committees and task forces, introductions to vendors and consultants, the department arranging a time to take the new employee to lunch, etc.
Making sure that your onboarding process covers these four levels will:
- reduce turnover
- avoid costly miscommunications
- prevent gaps in compliance
- reduce stress for the new employee and your team
- give employees the clear steps and confidence to succeed (and know when they are doing so)
- assist employees in hitting the ground running and performing at their best
and most importantly, help them feel welcome and already valued.
Just how powerful can a well-implemented onboarding process be? Bauer’s report cites survey results from a longitudinal study published in the 2001 Journal of Applied Psychology: “The role of personal work goals in newcomers’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment: A longitudinal analysis.” by Maier, G., & Brunstein, J.C. Surveyed organizations saw a 52% increase in retention rates, 60% improvement in productivity, and 53% rise in customer satisfaction.
Next we’ll review how Zendesk can make covering The Four Cs easier and more efficient.
Using Zendesk for HR Onboarding
When considering any onboarding system, it’s important to first know what is needed, what it’s capable of, and what it won’t do.
Zendesk is first and foremost a ticket management system, and therefore is quite useful in meeting the fundamental needs of most onboarding systems, such as ordering equipment, arranging workspace, or making sure compliance documents are signed.
What Zendesk can’t do, without a lot of adaptation (or a third party plugin like Myndbend Process Manager), is:
- make approvals and multiple sign-offs easy
- handle repetitive tasks in bulk
- note progress through the onboarding process
- track compliance
- manage forms and whether they’re signed
The power that comes with group onboarding and automated procurement alone makes adding Myndbend Process Manager worth the modest expense and easy setup.
For a helpful onboarding checklist and comparison grid showing how Myndbend Process Manager can automate and facilitate the details and decisions, see our in-depth onboarding best practices checklist.
The ultimate failure of onboarding is the withdrawal of potentially good employees. Losing an employee who is a poor fit or not performing well may be a fine outcome, but losing employees because they are confused, feel alienated or lack confidence indicates inadequate onboarding.
Share your onboarding experiences (painful and pleasant) in our comments below...