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Get Onboard with Onboarding

By Liam Butler, VP and GM EMEA, SumTotal

In a CIPD survey conducted this year, more than 80% of organisations said they struggled to retain staff.  At the same time, just 40% of these organisations had undertaken initiatives to improve talent retention. 

Businesses need stronger drive behind employee retention. Looking at the economics alone, it is said to cost more than £30,000 to replace every departing employee in terms of lost output (with the average employee taking 28 weeks to achieve optimum productivity). And the costs do not stop there: temporary staff, advertising costs, management time, conducting interviews and HR processes all add to the total too.

The secret to employee retention:

The answer to the employee retention crisis is a well thought out onboarding programme: a fully developed, personal progression path for each employee that maps key milestones and expectations. Show an employee that you are offering them a career, and not just a job, and you are more likely to retain them. Organisations with even just a standard onboarding programme have 50% greater new hire retention than those without. Rather than dropping new joiners in the deep end, onboarding makes employees feel more comfortable in their roles because they know what is expected of them.

Some organisations only use the onboarding process for new joiners, but it should be extended to those that have received a promotion, have been transferred from elsewhere, or are returning to work after a period away. Continuous onboarding provides constant threads of reflection and growth opportunities for employees, so that they know their job well and how to progress.

The benefits of onboarding

By using a continuous onboarding procedure, the business as a whole is likely to see measurable improvements in business metrics like revenue, customer retention and satisfaction, and reduced skills attrition.

Onboarding provides a tangible touchpoint for employees to see how the company is engaging and mapping out their future career progression. The notion of an ever-evolving role with a sense of direction and prospect is a huge attraction to employees. By tracking employee performance, strength and weaknesses on an on going basis, managers will more easily find the best roles for their employees. Managers can then choose the required development courses and training for that role and provide the right content to the employee.

How to onboard correctly

A sophisticated onboarding programme will offer managers real-time visibility into the strengths, weaknesses and knowledge gaps of their team members. These can then be analysed to determine what learning should be set for individual team members. As well as improving employee efficiency and satisfaction, managers will also feel happier and more in control with a formal onboarding programme in place.

Fundamentally, onboarding is a tool for employee retention and satisfaction, so the most important thing to ensure is that the programme is engaging for the user. If a programme is dull or difficult to navigate, the experience will instantly disengage the employee, stunt development and potentially push them away as soon as they begin. Here are a few key considerations to take when choosing onboarding software:

  • The interface used for the onboarding process should be enjoyable and easy to use (look for a Netflix style interface that is easy to navigate)
  • Ensure that the content is clear and engaging
  • Employees should be able to clearly see their progress

By unifying critical learning, talent, and HR processes to drive engagement and speed time to capability, companies are able to retain talent at a significantly improved rate. Not only does a solid onboarding programme increase employee retention, it makes employees more engaged, skilled and aware that they are in a role that offers them a career. Rather than leaving a welcome pack on the desk, organisations needs to think about the bigger picture, ensuring that they are doing everything they can to retain the talent walking through the door.