Onboarding: You Get What You Give

August 10, 2015 in HR Best Practices



Robin Throckmorton, MA, SPHR and President of Strategic HR, Inc. provides prospective on onboarding and how it starts with the recruitment process.

Consider this:

  • Turnover averages about 17% per month for the first three months (including as much as 16% in the first week)

  • 81% of those who leave are entry level / intermediate level;

  • 46% of new employees washout in the first 18 months; and

  • 45% felt over $10,000 is wasted on ineffective onboarding.

Bamboo HR found these statistics in a study regarding onboarding in 2014. The typical cost of turnover is no less than 50% of the annual salary of the employee, but often well over 150%. This makes onboarding pretty significant for all businesses. Often we are tormented with short-cutting onboarding because we reason, “I’m busy.” Cutting corners only hurts you, the business, and the new employee.

The reasons for early turnover are very different than someone that’s been on the job a while and can include:

  • being overwhelmed

  • feeling neglected

  • feeling underappreciated

  • disagreeing with management

  • differing opinions of work expectations

  • training ineffectiveness

If an untrained employee has these feelings, they are more likely to be confused, make mistakes, or even expose themselves and others to hazards.

We can’t blame all the turnover of new hires on the onboarding. It actually starts with recruitment.  It is imperative to be transparent during the recruitment process about your company, the hiring manager, and the job. If the job is a dirty, hot job, be upfront about the working conditions. If the hiring manager is highly demanding, make that known during the recruiting process. If an employee comes in with a realistic preview of the job, there are no surprises and therefore is less likely to pack up and leave before they even start.

Once hired, it is important that you are well prepared in advance for your new employee’s start-date. Begin by creating a checklist and regularly update it to ensure the new hire’s first day isn’t spent sitting in the lobby. Some basics to prepare include:

  • Workstation (Where will they sit? Is there a desk? A chair?)

  • Telephone (Will they need a phone? Is it setup?)

  • Computer, Printer (What equipment will they need? Is it configured?)

  • Email, Software (Does their computer have email? Software? Access to printer?)

  • Notify Department (Be creative – i.e. design a poster with their picture and title so the department can add welcome messages.)

  • Update Company Directory (Add their information and provide them with a copy.)

  • Assign a Mentor/Buddy

  • Create Employee Onboarding Plan

One of the biggest mistakes we make when we hire a new employee is failing to create a formal onboarding plan.  A few key things to consider would be:

  • Why did you hire them?

  • What are the main strengths they bring to the role?

  • What are areas you plan to help them develop?

  • What will their initial project(s)/assignment(s) be?

  • What actions should they address the first two weeks? 60 days?

  • What are your expectations of them in 30 days? 60 days? 120 days?

With the plan mapped out, you can put the new employee in the driver’s seat to report the outcomes of the plan such as, “How am I doing? What have I learned? and What additional help do I need?”

Some additional information you’ll want to capture on a checklist to share with the new employee in the first weeks include:

1) Company Information

  • Consider sending a welcome packet to the new employee with information about the company and include anything that mirrors your company (logoware, flowers, etc.)

  • Acquaint the new employee with the company’s mission, markets, operations and people

  • Inform the new employee about the company policies that affect their work

  • Open the two-way communication from the beginning

2) Employee Benefits

This can be a long list so be sure you capture your company’s benefits and perks that the employee should know about. Some things to think about including in the list are: payroll/payday; time tracking; list of benefits and how to enroll; keys; equipment; handbook; emergency procedures and numbers; time off including breaks, sick days, vacation days, and holidays; dress code; smoking; parking, etc.

3) Job Information

Some information you should provide about the job may be: an organization chart; reporting structure; procedures manuals; job description; and performance evaluation.

Another key to successful onboarding is assigning a mentor or buddy.  In the same Bamboo HR study, 37% of the respondents said they want to have a mentor/buddy. The mentor should be a source of information (i.e. introductions, unwritten rules) and guide on the job (i.e. clarifying assignment, tools, resources). The key is identifying a good mentor; someone who:

  • has a good performance history

  • is proud of his or her work and of the organization

  • is skilled in the new employee’s job

  • possesses broad knowledge about the department’s and the company’s operations

  • has the time to spend with the new employee

  • is patient and a good communicator

  • serves as a positive role model

The final piece of onboarding; you should think about is giving regular feedback to the new hire. Set milestones to check in with them to be sure they were oriented effectively, integrating into the job, utilizing the onboarding plan, and performing appropriately.

This is a lot to consider, which is why it should be well prepared. According to Bill Cushard in his article “These Employee Turnover Stats Should Scare You to Death”, new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.  What will your plan be?

 As you know, onboarding starts with the recruitment process. Contact Kinsa Group, experts in executive food & beverage recruiting to get started.