The Imperative for Onboarding

The Imperative for Onboarding

Talent acquisition and retention are topics that have been elevated in recent years for executive level sponsorship. But what of the bridge between these two business-critical focus areas: candidate onboarding?

According to the findings of our 2015 UK & Ireland Onboarding Survey, where we set out to discover employee sentiment and experiences during the first 90 days of employment in a new role, many organisations are failing in this regard. Result? At worst candidate attrition and a negative impact on your employer brand.

Given the budgetary and resource allocation to talent acquisition (especially for those operating in scarce skill industries) the lack of an effective candidate onboarding strategy is feeding the proverbial leaky bucket taking you right back to the talent acquisition stage.

How was your first day? 

An astounding 86% of people starting new jobs were not taken to lunch on their first day. It may sound like a small thing, but in an office environment that can be a real marker for a first day.

How was your first day? This is the question your new employee will be asked time and again by friends, family and colleagues. Verbalising their experience becomes an emotive summary of their initial impressions of their new employer.

In a world where comments can go viral on social media status updates on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor and LinkedIn (employer) brands are impacted both positively and negatively. Food for thought in terms of future talent-pipelining.

Is the global average good enough? 
Taking a global perspective and looking at the data from our Kelly Global Workforce Index it is apparent the growing economies adopt best practice and place significant value on the first 90 day period of new hires. China, Thailand and India clearly lead the field with planned and structured periods of assimilation.

The UK sits at the global average of 55%, meaning 45% were without a planned induction. So, have we become complacent? Is this a legacy from enjoying a candidate-rich market, or is there a lack of understanding of the value of onboarding people?

When does onboarding begin? 
Often businesses believe day one is go live. In reality onboarding begins the moment the candidate accepts the offer. At that very moment they become your employee in waiting.

Who owns it?
Does the business of onboarding slip between the cracks? Perhaps each possible stakeholder assumes another is taking action. Recruitment (internal or external) assumes the hiring manager is on top of it. HR assumes recruitment have it covered. The hiring manager is busy doing the day job.

Our 2015 UK & Ireland Onboarding Survey reveals:

- 1 in 5 people didn’t receive a warm welcome on their first day
- 46% were not given an office tour
- 48% did not receive an induction plan
- Whilst a lucky 4% received a welcome gift.

The acid test 
The ultimate onboarding failure is a new employee unwilling to recommend their employer. According to our survey 1 in 5 hires would not recommend their employer on the basis of their onboarding experience.

The numbers point to an overwhelming lack of attention to the pre-board and post-start welfare and progress of new hires, or talent, as we like to call it. It begs the question that if we regard people as talent when we are trying to find them, why are we not treating them as talent when we have found them?

It’s not all bad news, some acknowledged their new employers “had everything ready for them”, “explained the goals of the company” “maintained good feedback” and had “regular weekly meetings for feedback”.

Wrap your arms around your talent
At Kelly we work with a number of global FTSE100 companies as well as SMEs here in the UK helping shape onboarding for the future. And this is what best practice is looking like.

It needs to be a human-to-human process. With the advent of centralised or technology-driven onboarding, we mustn’t forget that nothing beats the personal touch in the engagement stakes.

Communicate - Keep in touch from the offer stage and throughout the 90 day onboard Create a personal journey that paves the way for your joiner to feel connected with your brand.

Little things matter - A simple FAQs document can be a real winner. Wifi code, printer settings, locations of key people, lift codes, general information that makes your new team member feel empowered and part of the business.

Be ready for them - Have their equipment tested and in place for them.

Practice makes perfect 
Whether you have a formalised onboarding process or not, evaluate what you are doing and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask your new starters for feedback on their experience and take note of what they are saying. Make changes that will give the incremental improvements that make a difference and mean that you get to pass the acid test!

Perfect vs Complex world 

With 1.3 million temporary workers in the UK we are challenged with catering for not only permanent staff. We must ensure the strategy accounts for all the variables - internal transfers, secondments, remote working, isolated engineering outposts and home workers as some examples.

Where we see a process in place we see an improvement in delivering the EVP. This naturally improves attrition rates and positioning for talent attraction.

I leave you with this question: is candidate on-boarding a standalone topic on your talent agenda?

If it isn’t then I ask you to reconsider and take a long-term view on what your talent attraction strategy delivers when onboarding is failing in so many areas. Get it right and you will engage and impress them, creating early and loyal employer brand advocates.

With over 17 years staffing, solutions and project experience Sam has led operations to implement and deliver regional and global workforce programmes across various industries. Sam’s remit at Kelly Services extends across EMEA where she consults and supports organisations seeking national, regional and global talent solutions.