Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Recruitment is back on but are your onboarding and crossboarding programmes up to scratch?

It’s no secret that a solid onboarding programme is a crucial part of the recruitment process.

In fact, according to research by Glassdoor, it can improve employee retention by 82%. It’s surprising, therefore, that only 12% of employees think their organisation does onboarding well.

Clearly, there is much work to be done to improve the onboarding process. And if this is the case, what of crossboarding? You may not have even heard of this, but it is the onboarding of individuals who move into a new role within their existing company – the forgotten new starters. Yes, they may already be very familiar with the company’s operations and culture but they will still need some onboarding to ensure they understand their new position and job requirements. According to HCI, only 27% of organisations effectively onboard employees who are promoted or moved into a new role. As a statistic, that is really poor as your internal talent is more valuable than external.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact on businesses causing some to close or shrink, some to expand and others to pivot their entire business model. Since March this year, business leaders have become more optimistic about what lies ahead and from our conversations with clients, it’s clear that recruitment is a priority. Thousands of people have already taken on new roles either within the same company as before or with a new employer and many have done so without even having stepped through the door of their place of work. Limited onboarding – predominately done virtually – has been the “solution” and this may lead to significant problems a few months from now. There is likely to be an increase in employee turnover especially with recent recruits not yet feeling a connection with their colleagues or managers and wishing to leave, or their team feeling unsupported by the new recruit and looking elsewhere for a job. Not only that, but if new recruits haven’t had sufficient training in how to do their role effectively, then a business could see a large drop in productivity.  And if onboarding standards have slipped, crossboarding must be in an even worse condition.

Here are our tips to get your onboarding and crossboarding programmes back on track quickly.

Starting with onboarding, this process shouldn’t be left until the employee’s first day; it should actually start long before this. Ideally, an employer should send any updates on the company, management changes and press articles beforehand, schedule multiple touch base calls to make sure everything is ok and arrange for any necessary kit to be delivered before the start date (maybe with some goodies too!).

On the employee’s first day, any mandatory training, such as anti-bribery or IT use, should already be in their diary and the team should be prepped to introduce themselves and anyone else who might be important to the new recruit’s role. Of course, email set up and system access should be completed too.

It also helps to assign someone to be the new employee’s “buddy” to take them for lunch on the first day or hold informal video calls every day for the first week to help answer any trivial questions they may have.

Too often the line manager isn’t as attentive as they should be in the first week, so make sure they set regular reviews in the first few days to check in.

Finally, within the first week, make sure that objectives for the probation period and beyond are discussed and agreed so that the new recruit is giving their all from the beginning.

For crossboarding, a lot of the above measures may seem unnecessary but someone making an internal move is still starting a new role and should be made to feel special and welcome. This means they also deserve a goody bag and starter pack and it’s highly likely they’d appreciate the offer of a “buddy” too. 

A nice touch for the crossboarding process is to make an internal communications announcement to thank them for their hard work in their previous role and welcome them to the new position. This will also let the wider business know of the job change and could stimulate lots of messages of encouragement.

When recruiting externally, the new employer can get no more than a simple reference on the new starter. However, with internal moves, you have the luxury of access to all of their performance management records and any other personnel notes. You can also get a full handover from their previous line manager which will be invaluable in setting new objectives and ensuring the new recruit is given the best possible direction and motivation in the new role.  

Of course, the downside of internal recruitment is that a line is never truly drawn under the old job and they may be contacted by their old team to help or answer questions. To manage this, agree with their previous line manager how this should be handled and set a deadline so that the new recruit can fully immerse themselves in their new responsibilities as soon as possible. Clear company communication can ensure that they are not contacted about their old work activities but can concentrate on their new role.

The race is now on for businesses to get back on track and there’s an opportunity to welcome lots of new talent. The efforts you make to keep that talent will be key.

By Ian Moore, founder of HR Consultancy Lodge Court