7 Ways to Improve Your Employee Onboarding Process

blogIs a structured new employee orientation process in place in your business, or does each new hire get a different experience on their first day? Many businesses “get” the value of a well-planned onboarding experience, but others still play it by ear. They fail to understand the link between a quality orientation experience and prospects for long-term retention (which, after all, is the ultimate goal when any employee is hired).

Consider these eye-opening statistics:

  • Businesses lose up to 25% of new employees every year.
  • New hires can take as much as 12-18 months “to gain proficiency comparable to their tenured co-workers.”
  • Businesses employing a “standard onboarding process” see more than 50% greater productivity in their new hires.
  • More than 75% of new employees who achieve their first “official performance milestone” went through formal orientation training.

If your onboarding process could use some fine-tuning, keep these key action steps in mind:

1. Put a documented plan in place. First impressions really do matter. If new hires go through what feels like a sloppy, disorganised and uninformative onboarding process, they’ll likely form negative opinions about the company they’re working for that never go away. To offset this impression, document a planned, step-by-step process that remains consistent, regardless of who’s been hired and who’s overseeing the orientation experience.

2. Get paperwork out of the way. Too many new hire programs submerge the rookie employee in a swamp of paperwork, taking up precious hours on his or her first day that might be more efficiently used to bring that person “into the fold.” As much as possible, send HR and benefits-related paperwork to the new employee ahead of time, so necessary documentation can be at least partly completed before that first step into the workplace as a new employee.

3. Avoid overwhelming employees on their first day. It’s important to manage your expectations regarding an employee’s first day on the job. You want them up and working, but if you pile on too much information—or assign them a potentially difficult task—you risk losing their attention and motivation. “Employee retention is a marathon,” notes business consultant Larry Alton. “You don’t want to exhaust them on day one.”

4. Design a welcoming video. A brief, informative video will likely be a welcome change of pace during the onboarding process. Think of it as “selling” your company—that is, reinforcing the new hire’s belief that he or she made the right choice in accepting the position. Present a little about the company’s history, emphasise aspects of the culture you want to get them excited about, and include a welcome message from the CEO. It’s a significant first step in making people feel part of the organisation.

5. Choose your orientation language carefully. Every company has its own jargon, but there’s no reason new employees must be versed in it on their first day at work. Be clear in all the language used during the onboarding process, avoiding technical terms and inside lingo no one can be expected to understand. It’s okay to introduce a couple of key phrases worth knowing, but for the most part, lay out the path ahead in language everyone can easily grasp.

6. Point the way towards additional resources. Most new hires will want to learn more about the company and its culture, just not all at once. Compile a list of resources, links on the company website, etc., and encourage individuals to find out more about their new workplace environment. Don’t make them waste time at home trying to locate materials that will help them better fit in.

7. Finally, give new employees something they can take home after their first day. Chances are, you offer branded items to customers—why not to new employees as well? Put together a welcome bag of these items, a sign of your appreciation for their first day of work. Carefully selected “branded swag,” while seemingly small, “encourages a great sense of welcome and belonging to your new hire.”

Want more advice on employee recruitment and retention? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

91% of Business Owners Could See Higher Revenue Using a Strategic Plan

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The Alternative Board (TAB), the world’s largest franchise provider of peer advisory boards and business coaching services, released the results of its quarterly, third-party Small Business Pulse Survey – and the results are surprising. Although 76% of respondents say they believe having a written strategic plan increases overall business performance, 91% don’t have what they consider to be an “excellent” plan. In fact, 22% have no written strategic plan at all. While the majority of business owners are expecting the economy to improve, they admit they’re not in the best position to capitalise on it.

“There are many business owners who do not have a good strategic plan. They’re missing opportunities – and they know it.” says David Scarola, Vice President of The Alternative Board. “The time investment required to write and regularly review strategic plans pays off big in the form of increased sales revenues, higher profits and more opportunities.”

When asked what they feel the most significant benefit of strategic planning is, 66% of business owners say it helps them identify and seize new opportunities. Moreover, respondents agree that continually reevaluated business plans are most likely to improve revenue growth, profit and marketing effectiveness. Despite the fact that business owners know the benefits of having written strategic plans, only 40% rate their own plans as “good” or better. The primary reason CEOs aren’t writing or reviewing their business plans? Lack of time.

“The complaint that your company ‘does not have time’ is proof that you need to invest time for this,” says Allen E. Fishman, TAB’s founder and best-selling author of The Alignment Factor. “The reality is that strategic business plans have been proven to save an enormous amount of time in every industry. And time, as we all know, is money.”

To get a clearer picture of who was surveyed: 65% are family-owned business owners. About half of those surveyed are members of TAB – this segment of the study group overwhelmingly review and adjust their strategic plan quarterly. By comparison, the non-TAB members felt an annual adjustment was sufficient. Those looking for a measurable result of the benefits provided by TAB’s strategic planning template might point to the fact that 56% of the entrepreneurs who belong to TAB plan to add to their full-time sales staff this year, compared to just 34% of non-TAB members.

“The most recent survey results validate our long-held belief, based on over two decades of working with thousands of small- and medium-sized business owners, that having a strategic plan to guide their business is critical to achieving success,” says Scarola. “It’s in the business owners’ best interest to have a good plan that is reviewed regularly.” However, only 16% of business owners currently review and update their plan on a monthly basis.

The TAB survey also asked questions regarding how small business owners feel about the economy, which led to some interesting answers. While the economy may be stronger overall than it was a year ago, this sentiment varies widely by country. An impressive 73% of U.S. small business owners indicate that the economy is better than it was last year, while only 48% of British and 45% of Canadian CEOs feel the same way. Optimism is high among all survey respondents, though, with 66% anticipating an improvement in their local economy over the coming year. Even more telling, 77% polled expect higher sales revenue and 75% predict an increase in profits.