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What good onboarding can do - Should I stay or should I go?

14/03/2022 Onboarding

The first day at the new employer! Ten years from now, when I celebrate my anniversary, will I be smiling at the old photo on my employee ID that was taken today? Or will I be sitting in front of the personnel managers in another company in a year's time and diplomatically explaining why I want to change again?

Not on the radar

I have to wait a little at reception, then my new manager comes hectically around the corner: Busy? Or was it not on the radar that someone new was starting today? The four-person office I am taken to is empty except for one person. I can easily identify my desk, which is obviously the desk without personal belongings, but also without a welcome card or anything similar. Not so bad, I think to myself, but a chair would be quite handy. "Oh, the chair..." - my new colleague is visibly uncomfortable - "we still have to order it, because everyone should have their own ergonomic chair. But we can't do that until we have the personnel number, and it has to be approved by the supervisor..." 

I ignore my impulse to flee and try to ask in a friendly way: "And will you work me in then?" - "No, I'm working on completely different issues, I'm not familiar enough with your processes at all." - "Who does that?" The colleague points to one of the empty chairs and mentions a name, "but she's not here right now." - "Then she'll probably join us later?" - "Um, no, X is on holiday right now. Still on until the twelfth." Okay, that's an announcement. So I will have to wait for the first seven working days until the person who is supposed to train me comes back from holiday. "What can I do until then?" - "Well, we were thinking you could read through the process manual already? It's still from 2019, but most things should still be right."
Dear readers, what's your bet? Will the person from our introduction bite through, network on their own at this company and actually celebrate their ten year anniversary there? Or do you think it's more likely that he or she will send out the first applications for new jobs just a few months later?
The numbers speak for the second scenario: a study on the loyalty of newly hired employees found that 44% of all employees think about quitting again already in the first year at a new company.

The costs caused by fluctuation are generally known; an example calculation can be found here.

In times of a shortage of skilled workers, it is all the more painful when the hard-won skilled worker leaves after only a few months - in addition to the costs for renewed recruiting and the vacancy costs of the unfilled position the demoralising influence on the remaining employees should not be underestimated. But why are the first months in a new company so crucial?

Everyone knows the saying "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression". So the importance of making the first impression positive, clear and with open arms is immense. This applies accordingly to getting to know a new employer. The first impression weighs heavily in the long-term perception, and it takes a disproportionate amount of effort to positively overlay a botched entry. So even if, in our opening example, an ergonomic chair was quickly brought in and the hectic manager found time to explain the first tasks to the newcomer himself or herself, an uneasy feeling will remain. 
Fortunately, a good first impression can be planned; in the jargon, this is called onboarding. This refers to all the measures a company takes to make the start of a new employee as smooth as possible, i.e. it goes far beyond a mere technical induction. So what are the advantages of successful onboarding?

BINDING

As we have already seen at the beginning, a successful onboarding process reduces the turnover of newly hired employees. New team members who feel comfortable from the start and realise that they are welcome in the team can envisage a long future together; this is different from those who experience hardly any technical induction, are not taken into account organisationally and have difficulties settling into the new company due to low social integration. As a result of well-planned and managed onboarding measures, you get a significant increase in employee satisfaction, engagement and ultimately retention.

PRODUCTIVITY

The longer the new employee is still unsure of how things work and who is the contact person for what, the longer the phase of initial unproductivity will drag on. On the other hand, the knowledge of professional, social and cultural backgrounds and processes imparted right at the beginning creates security and clarity in the new working day. If new team members are familiarised with the individual topics in a targeted manner and at their own pace, they can simply work productively faster and thus achieve results more quickly. But the workload of colleagues is also reduced more quickly if time is invested in an adapted onboarding process in advance.

NETWORK + CONTACTS

An appreciative onboarding process, which includes organisational, professional as well as social aspects, creates an emotional onboarding, as the new team member feels personally integrated into the company and welcomed. Nowadays, the importance of networks in the company and thus important information channels cannot be emphasised often enough. By gaining familiarity with the corporate culture, even a newcomer can already feel part of the whole. As a positive side effect, departures before the first day of work are rarer, as close contact, loyalty and commitment are built up early on.

ERROR PREVENTION

The structured technical induction and systematic introduction to company and process knowledge contributes greatly to avoiding mistakes caused by ignorance. Clarification of the newcomers' own tasks and the roles and areas of responsibility of the stakeholders provide security in everyday work. 
A well-planned induction, didactically prepared and implemented based on the learning pace of the new team member, contributes to less repetition being necessary and the implementation of the new processes picking up speed more quickly.
A study from 2017 shows that only 44% of all newly hired employees were actively talked to about the company's goals. In these companies, one may wonder how the employees are supposed to contribute to the achievement of the goals in a targeted manner. Only when the goal is known can the right path be taken.

EMPLOYER BRANDING

In the age of management shortages, structured onboarding can make a decisive contribution to employer branding. A functional yet personal onboarding process signals to new employees a corporate culture characterised by appreciation and conveys the feeling of being welcome in the new company. This type of corporate culture carries itself outwards through word of mouth, social media and evaluation portals and attracts further interested parties who can identify with this type of cooperation. This, in turn, makes it easier to fill jobs successfully in the future.
In summary, it is easy to see that while onboarding contains an important human component, it pays off in hard facts. If you want the first impression on your new professionals to be positive, it is worth investing time in good and planned onboarding. 
However, if "time" is a scarce commodity in your company, you can benefit from the knowledge of our experts who have already compiled all the important measures for onboarding into an all-round carefree package for you. The name "Onboarding To Go" means that you only need to adapt the documents provided to your company in order to get started with systematic and structured onboarding within a very short time. If you would also like a check-up of your existing processes and need a personal consultation call with one of our experts, we have put together the more comprehensive package "Extending Your Onboarding" for you!

About the Author
Valeska Szalla
HR Consultant
Since 2017 I have been writing my success story at ARTS, where I can always add a new chapter through the various projects I have been involved in.

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