With the current war for talent, it’s never been more important for organisations to work hard not only to attract talent, but to retain these new employees too. Far too many organisations invest heavily in recruiting and optimising this experience, yet pay little attention to onboarding employees after they have been hired. This can soon become problematic for the business, as research from Bersin by Deloitte found that most employees (90 per cent), make the long-term decision to stay with a company within their first six months of joining the business. Delivering training, ensuring employees are on target and socialisation with colleagues are key and are all part of the onboarding process.

Onboarding plans are intended to help familiarise new employees with the overall goals of a company and support them as they embark on early projects, all in an effort to achieve success and productivity right from the start. In return, organisations can expect to reduce staff churn and encourage workers to stay within their organisation for the foreseeable future.

The fact of the matter is, not offering a successful onboarding programme can potentially put the organisation at a disadvantage. Not only does it mean that employees could possibly be unproductive right from the word go, but it also means there is no defined time period of enrolling someone which can lead to an inconsistency in feedback. In fact, according to the Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, it can take up to a year or longer for most new employees to get up to speed in 30 percent of companies, so having a clear timeframe set for enrolment can be hugely beneficial.

So what are the key benefits of successful onboarding and how can organisations implement it?

Set expectations at the start of the employer/employee relationship

When a new person starts in a company, it’s important to outline right away what is expected of them in their new role. This will help both parties – the employee and the employer – to keep on track with goals. At the same time it’s not fair to place heavy expectations on a new hire before they’ve had a chance to become acquainted with the job so creating a 30-60-90 day plan detailing what is expected of them at each milestone is important. Employers need to ensure that they are meeting with new hires regularly to discuss their progress and help to answer any questions that they might have. Worryingly, The Allied Workforce Mobility Survey also found that 60 percent of companies don’t have any set milestones or goals for new employees to work towards, which can lead to new hires taking a lot longer to start working to their full potential.

Create a clear development plan

Milestones such as 30/60/90/180 day reviews are really important to a new employee. Having a clear idea of what is expected of them can help them to prepare for reviews and increase transparency. For example, if an employee strays too far from prescribed targets, development plans can help to get the employee back on track and reduces the risk of them becoming disengaged, ensuring alignment with supervisors.

When employees understand what is expected of them right away, including key actions and daily activities, they are able to get on track with their goals and stuck in with work straight away. At the same time, while employers need to make sure that they give their employees freedom to begin key activities, they also need to support new hires if they deviate from targets and ensure that the employee is staying on track with their goals. Organisations that do this can expect to see better business results. In fact, one of Cornerstone’s own clients, Fidessa, has reported that it now takes a third of the time to bring a new employee to a fee-earning level and accelerating onboarding has allowed them to increase revenue, get people up to speed much faster and ensure that they have the skills they need to keep at the forefront of financial services software.

Connect new hires with colleagues and mentors 

Connecting new hires with colleagues and mentors who will support them in their new role is also really important. Many organisations benefit from formal new hire groups and formalised mentor programmes for a stronger onboarding experience. Tools which allow enterprise social networking and virtual communities to achieve greater employee socialisation and success with onboarding can be hugely beneficial. NATS, another Cornerstone customer, which used the Connect product, found that it enabled the team to have conversations across the world, referencing the same data source, creating proper collaboration. At the same time, many leading organisations find that social connection can help employees to adapt to the culture of an organisation.

Employees who feel connected and accepted by their new colleagues will not only have less anxiety upon entering the workplace, but they will have more confidence to ask important questions and are more open to learning about their new role. An employee who feels insecure and overwhelmed in the workplace will not be able to do their best, which can slow down their induction process.

Assigning mentors and organising regular key stakeholder check-ins can be beneficial to new employees. Even simple things like ensuring that their name is at the front desk when they arrive on their first day, organising for a colleague to take them out to lunch and having someone introduce the new employee to the rest of the office can make the onboarding experience much better for a new hire. It is the responsibility of existing employees to be sociable and make a new colleague feel at ease and therefore employers should also encourage existing staff to meet new hires.

It’s time to re-imagine onboarding

Employee turnover is not only expensive but can also be extremely draining on business productivity. This is why it’s important to get employees on board with the business vision as soon as they join the organisation. Engagement is key here and that’s why an onboarding programme can be hugely beneficial. Employers and employees must have an understanding of what is expected of them right away to enable them to create a clear development plan for the new hire. Socialisation is also important so new employers need to ensure that new hires are connected with colleagues and mentors right away. In this day and age, retaining is just as important as recruiting.

It’s time for organisations to re-imagine onboarding.

Vincent Belliveau, Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Cornerstone

Vincent Belliveau is Cornerstone OnDemand's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He is responsible for overseeing all of Cornerstone's European operations including sales and marketing, implementation, services and support.