HR Tips for a Better Onboarding Strategy

Does anyone really like filling out new hire paperwork and watching a canned orientation video? New hire onboarding isn’t necessarily supposed to be fun, but it could provide a much better and welcoming candidate experience.

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That’s what it’s all about these days, with candidates scarce and employers striving to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, purple unicorn or however you care to phrase it. Your onboarding process could give every new hire a much better shot at success instead of testing their ability to stay awake. Not only that, you could gain valuable information along the way that helps reduce attrition.

Here are 5 HR tips for a better onboarding strategy that accomplishes more for everyone involved.

#1: Begin With a Great Employee Portal

Many HR departments have already made the switch to an employee portal instead of hard copy paperwork and a television set up for viewing orientation videos. With a portal, new hires and current employees can access important information from a central source. They can even access them from home, at least in some cases.

Also called an enterprise or intranet portal, your employee portal should facilitate easy access and ease of sharing. It should have everything employees need in one place. It should integrate with HR technology so that it’s all at your fingertips. And it should rely on automation for as many tasks as possible to keep the process moving.

#2: Start Onboarding Long Before the First Day

The first day on the job can be fairly hectic. It can also be nerve-wracking for the new hire. If you start the onboarding process sooner, the first day won’t feel so foreign to anyone involved. The new person on the job will feel more like part of the team instead of an outsider hoping to fit in. Expose new hires to company culture as soon as possible. You can do this through training videos accessible from home.

Steve O’Brien, vice president of marketing for Chronus Corp, tells the Society for Human Resource Management that he recommends customizing the onboarding experience to the role. A new department head might need a different process than a new entry-level employee.

HR tips
Using an employee portal, new hires can gradually work through a longer onboarding process that keeps them engaged while acclimating to their new role.

#3: Draw Out Onboarding as Long as You Can

The typical orientation and onboarding process isn’t fun and everyone wants to get through it as quickly as possible. But O’Brien says that limits what onboarding can do. Scrap old ideas and reshape the program into something that you and new hires can benefit from. The better the employee experience, the more likely they’ll be to stick around.

Depending on the role, the onboarding process might last days, weeks or months. Longer if the job calls for it. Instead of mere orientation, onboarding can be a time of deep learning. New hires can learn more about the company, you can learn more about them, and strengths and weaknesses can be identified and addressed.

#4: Capitalize on Onboarding Data

If your platform is designed for it, and it should be, onboarding can produce a wealth of employee data. Sometimes, even the smallest details give insight into whether a new hire will work out. And they can help you identify those traits sooner in someone else.

Data analytics gives you behavioral data that helps clear away the murkiness behind why some employees stick around and others don’t. Considering cost per hire, costs of churn and the scarcity of great talent, those are vital points. What you learn about employees during the first weeks or months on the team helps create a smarter predictive modeling strategy for future new hires.

HR tips

#5: Identify Rising Stars and Struggling Team Members Much Sooner

It’s competitive out there. Chances are, your new hire left another job because they believed your offer was better. If another company comes along with an even better offer, you know what happens next. Onboarding can help you identify people with great potential for advancement, put them on track to get there and keep them engaged.

On the other side of that coin, sometimes a great hire is cultivated. Some talent needs a little help in order to shine. Maybe they’ve got great hard skills, but their soft skills prevent them from utilizing those to their fullest potential. The data sets analyzed during onboarding let you maneuver quickly to push training, mentoring and any other means necessary to build great teams where churn is the exception and not the rule.

Time was, onboarding didn’t involve much more than documents, videos about company culture, and pamphlets about policy. Now, more HR managers view onboarding as the perfect time to nudge new hires in the right direction, learn which attributes they’d like to find more of, and build sourcing and hiring strategies that get better over time.

If you want to learn more about onboarding, data, predictive modeling and building the best possible team for your company, you’re in the right place. Subscribe to Recruitment ADvisor and get relevant content delivered right to your inbox.

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