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Using onboarding to drive employee engagement from Day 1!

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The value of effective ‘onboarding’ and induction systems for new staff

(Part 1 in a 2-part series on the benefits of cohesive and holistic staff entry programs.)

How staff are introduced into a workplace can often set the tone for their level of engagement and contribution to the organisation in both the short and long term. 

How we manage these important phases in the employee life cycle directly reflects on our professionalism as a business. New staff are forming their first impressions on the organisational culture and the aim should be to create, and maintain, a positive impression.

Disputes can later arise over what information was provided by an organisation during induction/onboarding phases, particularly in terms of the quality of safety information provided or expectations around KPI’s and performance. 

Some legislative requirements must also be met and an inadequate process often comes back to haunt businesses as standards and practices fall short of expectations on both sides of the ledger.

A systematic and well thought out program will avoid all of these potential pitfalls!

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a broad term that discusses how organisations acclimatise new staff. 

The goal is to accommodate and assimilate new staff into the organisation so that they may start contributing as early as possible. 

Onboarding is a continuous process which extends beyond the initial induction and ensures new staff are supported during the early part of their careers.

How does onboarding differ from induction?

Induction is an important part of the overall onboarding process, but is typically more focused on the procedural aspects. 

Induction phases are usually shorter term in nature and provide information, guidance around procedures and support to new employees.  Addressing ‘how things work’ will enable a speedy adjustment to the new environment so they can begin productive, meaningful work as quickly as possible.

To be effective, induction should be a structured program that is implemented consistently across an organisation to provide orientation, organisational knowledge and initial on-the-job training requirements, safety information and attend to administrative functions such as computer access and payroll.

Why is it so important to get these steps right?

There is a direct correlation between induction and onboarding (or the lack of) and early employee turnover. Turnover in the early stages of employment is costly in both tangible and intangible terms to the employer due to the following reasons:

  • Cost of recruitment | Re-recruitment doubles the cost.
  • Loss of return on investment | If an employee leaves within the first three months of employment, the company will receive little, if any, return on investment for the training and resources provided.
  • Loss of productivity | Turnover is disruptive to staff and your business operations.  The duties/priorities of other employees will need to be reorganised to cover the duties of people leaving prematurely.
  • Cost of temporary replacement | Temporary staff may be hired to fill the gap, bearing an additional cost to the company. Temporary staff will need to undergo initial training and, depending on the nature of the work, may be unable to work on long-term projects, thus affecting productivity further.
  • Reflection on the organisational brand | Often people leaving due to inadequate processes will often discuss their experience negatively.

Probationary Periods

The probationary period is designed to assess an employee’s competence and professional behaviour before making a commitment to their ongoing employment. However this period is also an opportunity for an employee to assess the organisation and how you perform in onboarding and induction will be critical!

Benefits of effective induction and onboarding

In addition to reducing early employee turnover, effective induction and onboarding offers the following benefits:

  • Strong programs reinforce the decision of the new staff member to join the organisation. Positive, professional experiences validate their choice and turn the lust into love!
  • Makes new employees feel welcome and valued which will underpin engagement
  • The structure of the process and open communication reduces a new starter’s anxiety by assisting them to adapt to the new environment quickly and clarify concerns.
  • The appropriate levels of productivity and efficiency are reached earlier
  • There is less reliance on the direct supervisor/manager for direction
  • There are organisational benefits as the opportunity is presented for existing employees to mentor new staff while simultaneously developing their own skills.
  • Builds a culture of professionalism and positive communication.  These processes should encourage feedback so that employee dissatisfaction can be addressed early on.

Please see Part 2 -, Tips for Effective Onboarding and Induction - for practical tips on how to make the most of these important staff development opportunities.

For more information on your onboarding and induction processes so that your organisation can meet its goals, please contact us.


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