When high school graduates go off to college, there’s an orientation process that helps new students integrate into the school dynamic. Whether it’s a week or just a couple of days, colleges help their freshman get acquainted with the layout of the school, their new peers, the values of the school, and what’s expected of them moving forward. This helps kids transition with less stress and anxiety because when school starts, they already know a couple of people and have a general sense of where things are. On top of that, orientation gives new students an opportunity to see how they fit in and where they can make a difference.
These same considerations and characteristics apply to bringing on a new staff member.
The employee onboarding process is all about starting your relationship off right with new team members. While boundaries and expectations are important, there are also vital emotional reasons why a proper onboarding system is imperative for reducing churn. For your team to work as a unit and push the company forward, your employees need to feel like they belong. They need to feel important—to each other and to you. That’s the foundation a solid onboarding process creates.
Here are the ways you can check to see if your onboarding system is up to snuff, or if it needs some shifts to make it stronger.
Ask Your Employees
This goes for both new employees and team members who have been with you for a while.
The onboarding process doesn’t just affect new hires. Your loyal team members experience the onboarding process once when they go through it themselves, and then again every time a new hire is introduced. Your employees who have stayed with you will give you incredible insights on how they perceive new hires, what the existing process does to their work environment, and how it impacts the team as a whole.
Their feedback will show you where new hires are or are not emotionally connecting with existing team members, if the onboarding process is helpful or disruptive to their workflow, and how your employees perceive new hires. A solid onboarding process will reassure existing team members of their security, get them excited about the new hire, and prepare them for what to expect from the new employee.
Getting feedback from newer hires (at the 30, 60, and 90-day anniversary marks) will give you important insights into how they are feeling, if their confidence has risen, and if the expectations of their position are clear or not. Wherever your new hires are feeling insecure, unwelcome, or unsure will show you where the work needs to be done on your onboarding process.
For example, if your existing employees are a little leery when new hires come on and new hires are still lacking confidence at the 60-day mark, then you may need to introduce existing and new employees sooner in your onboarding process and implement some emotional bonding activities that can ease the transition for both parties.
Pinpoint Your Churn Timeline
Patterns are important in business. Data gives you the ability to see problems that may not seem related or time-sensitive until they’re put on a chart. Once you’ve got the data in front of you, it’s hard to deny the facts staring you straight in the face, which will either tell you “great job” or “try again”. So when you’re looking at company data to see if you have an onboarding problem, the first place you want to look at is your churn timeline.
Customers have a journey they go through, with predictable behavior because they’re all put through the same system. Employees are similar. There’s a distinct employee journey that’s created with an onboarding process, and the goal is to create predictable behavioral outcomes when it comes to your team members.
If you’re finding that your highest churn rates are within the first year, chances are that you have an onboarding problem. Once you know there’s an onboarding problem, you can start taking steps toward solutions.
Pinpointing Which Part Of Your Onboarding System Needs Help
There are multiple components to a complete and effective employee onboarding system. The first pieces are more technical, where you’re helping your new employees get acquainted with their workload, the systems they’ll be using, and the expectations you have for them. The next piece has more to do with emotional intelligence and inclusion. Your new hires need to be socially integrated into the team. Without a sense of belonging, new hires will struggle to reach their potential and feel truly valued by the company. Those are breeding grounds for higher turnover rates.
Make sure when employees leave, you do an exit interview (ideally after they’ve found a new position so they’re more likely to give honest answers), and ask them specifics around why they chose to move on from the company. At first, they will give you surface-level answers. Ask “why” multiple times to give your previous employees permission to express further, so that you can see exactly where your onboarding system needs support. You may find the workload was too much for that position, the employee didn’t understand the systems they were meant to use, they didn’t understand what was expected of them, or they didn’t feel like they belonged. Whatever their reasons are for leaving, the data you receive from them will help you strengthen your onboarding process.