Having an effective onboarding program is more important than you might think. Your onboarding process has a direct effect on your organizations ability to attract and retain new talent.

Onboarding is also directly related to the length of the new hire learning curve and their levels of productivity. The speed to competency of employees who have quality onboarding experiences is 34% faster than those who did not (1). Organizations with a comprehensive onboarding process also experience up to 50% more new hire productivity than those that do not (2).

One of the key factors that all effective onboarding programs have in common is a plan that strategically aligns each step in the onboarding process with the desired results. Onboarding is not a single one-time event, but a carefully mapped out journey. Each activity in these plans supports the programs core objectives. The best programs also take steps to optimize the effectiveness of each activity.

In this article we have shared the top 5 tips you need to know to create a results oriented onboarding plan.

1. Timing is everything

When it comes to designing an employee onboarding process that gets results, timing matters. Planning the right onboarding activities is just the first step. A comprehensive onboarding program has each event mapped out in a plan. The entire process should take place in the same order every time.

To maximize the impact of each onboarding activity you need to think about when it will be the most useful for the new hire. For example, pre-boarding activities should occur right after the new hire accepts their offer letter and before their start date. This will reduce nerves as well as help the employee feel welcomed and prepared for their first day. Pre-boarding activities are not as useful if they occur at a different time in the process.

This is also important to remember when planning out performance reviews and check-ins. The most successful onboarding programs last for a year and often include scheduled check-ins with a supervisor or mentor.

A popular strategy is to schedule more social activities and check-ins earlier on in the process to help employees become familiar with the company culture. Then after the first 90 days check-ins are spaced out more and are used to touch base with new employees.

2. Set clear expectations

When creating any employee training program, it is important to consider the desired end result. This will make it easier to set clear expectations, milestones and goals for new hires.

According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, failing to set clear expectations is one the top eight reasons employees quit their jobs (3). Setting clear expectations will help give employees the direction they need to successfully prioritize tasks and stay on track.

Unclear expectations can lead to new hires feeling confused and frustrated. Setting small goals throughout the onboarding process will also help employees attain quick wins and build their confidence.

3. Provide a checklist

An onboarding checklist is one of the best ways you can set up your new employees for success. The checklist serves as a road map of the entire process. It helps them understand what to expect, what they need to do and if they need help, it tells them where they can find it.

A checklist is also useful for all the staff involved in the onboarding process and ensures that each employee gets a consistent high-quality onboarding experience. It sets up clear expectations for not just the employee and human resources department, but for the entire onboarding team.

The checklist will reduce stress, improve communication and speed up the onboarding process by reducing confusion.

4. Schedule check-ins

Onboarding new hires is about a lot more than employee orientation and the first day on the job. New team members need to connect with the company culture and understand the role they play in reaching the organizations goals.

Employees also need someone who they can talk to about their performance and goals. Unfortunately, management only participates in onboarding programs at 35% of companies (4). This problem can be addressed by providing regular check-ins with their manager or through mentorship with another more experienced employee.

72% of employees say one-on-one time with their direct manager is the most important part of any pre-boarding or onboarding process (4). These check-ins are a great time for managers to discuss employee performance and to set goals. These check-ins also give both parties a chance to ask questions and discuss concerns.

5. Hand out resource materials

Starting a new job can be an overwhelming process. There is a lot to learn even for more experienced employees. Even after learning the ropes it can be easy to forget a lot of what was learned. A good way to improve knowledge retention is to provide new hires with resource materials they can use to look up the information they are looking for.

Resource materials can come in many different formats including an employee handbook, a website, an intranet page or in training videos.

Final Note

When creating an onboarding plan remember that the timing of each onboarding activity is important and will either maximize or detract from its impact. Setting clear expectations will set up your employees for success and a checklist will keep everyone on the same page. Regular check-ins and resource materials will give employees the support they need to become skilled confident members of your organization.

An effective onboarding plan that focuses on results will improve employee engagement, retention and increase profits. In fact, companies with a strong onboarding process improve employee retention by as much as 82% (5).

To learn all you need to know about creating a successful employee onboarding program read the eBook The Definitive Guide to Onboarding

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