Deliver a great employee experience from day one

Key takeaways

  • Employee experience is critical
  • Design a multi-stage onboarding journey
  • Engage the entire team
  • Select the right tools

4.5 min read

First impressions count, and onboarding is a critical process to get right to make sure your new starter is set up for success. Here are some tips for making sure your business nails it. 

By the time you’ve hired your new team member, you’ve already invested significant time, resource and money advertising, interviewing, and offering the position. Add the time and effort spent on training and your investment has increased again.

Whether your business maximises its return on that upfront investment depends on how well you embed your new hire into your organisation over the short, medium and long term.

That’s where building the best possible onboarding experience comes in.

Design an employee experience that’s insight driven, team-focused, and changes as your employee grows, and you’ll be seeing the benefits on your bottom line.

From orientation to onboarding – think experience, not tick-boxes

Within the first three to six months, employees are still deciding whether to stick out their first year in a new job.  Research shows that in Australia and New Zealand, 23 percent of workers intend on leaving within the first 12 months.

Ensuring your new hires stay requires an onboarding experience that delivers beyond basic orientation. So, while getting the employment contract signed, the equipment and IT sorted, and the first pay check out the door are all important tasks, they’re not enough.

Your business needs to think beyond basic orientation and design an onboarding journey that changes as your new employee progresses.

When designing your business’s employee onboarding experience, consider the following key phases.

Before Day One:

Don’t miss the boat; onboarding should start as soon as you post your job ad.  Make sure the recruitment and hiring phase positions your organisation well  and  is easy to navigate.

Complete key administrative tasks like contract signing digitally, to speed things up.

Share onboarding packs with information about employee benefits, where to go on the first day, what to wear and who to contact for help.

For shift-based roles, make sure you share roster details.

In the background, set up meet and greets, organise any equipment they may need on their first day, and ensure that payroll has access to their details.

First day:

Focus on a warm welcome. Set up a team lunch or coffee, connect your new starter with their buddy, and let the broader team know to expect your new starter.

Show them around the building or site, and make sure they’re set up with any technology or equipment they might need.

Provide clarity on the role, responsibilities, performance objectives and key policies. Complete any mandatory compliance or training tasks.

Week 1-2:

Remember to phase the onboarding so that it’s manageable, with milestones spaced out.  If there are any outstanding training sessions or new questions, regular check ins can help keep your new start on track.

First 3-6 months:

This is a great time to check in to make sure your new team member is engaged, happy and set up for success. You can provide feedback at this point, particularly on early achievements.

Check in on how the new starter’s support network is developing.

12 months in:

Depending on the role and organisation, this might be where you set up a development plan and discuss what career pathways are appropriate.

At this point you should have a view of your employee’s full effectiveness and your onboarding process should be winding down.

If you don’t have a permanent, longer-term talent retention program to hand over to, consider whether it makes sense for your business to create one.

For the long term:

Touch base with your people regularly and use their insights and feedback to shape a plan.

Design your employee experience with insights and data. Check in with your existing employees to gauge what they thought of their onboarding journey, what you did well and what you could improve.

Make sure you’re validating that your new onboarding strategy can be delivered — you may need to explore a technology solution to properly implement your plan or manage your back-office teams’ workload.

Consider a solution that can integrate with payroll and rostering to automate many of the tedious and manual tasks involved after a recruit is hired.

You’ll be able to deliver an excellent experience while reducing risk and effort for your existing teams.

"Research shows that in Australia and New Zealand, 23 percent of workers intend on leaving within the first 12 months."

It takes a village. Lean into the team.

It’s important to recognise that onboarding is not a task left solely to your business’s Team Leaders or Managers.  Remember, a new hire also impacts your current team and can affect productivity, so have a plan in place to ensure your new starter has a smooth welcome and your existing team are on board.

Make sure roles and responsibilities are clear, particularly if they are changing, and encourage team members to develop their own ideas about how best to welcome and onboard their new colleague.

It’s also critical to assign a buddy, who can help new employees get up to speed and become productive in their role more quickly.

Choosing the right buddy can also help to model the values and high-performance behaviours that are important to the business, and help your new hire understand what’s expected of them.

Finally, make sure your new employee meets with key stakeholders as part of their onboarding.  Brief stakeholders on how the new role fits within your team, and how they will contribute to the business goals. Facilitate meet and greets or provide an agenda so that your new hire and stakeholders can get up to speed quickly.

"It’s critical to assign a buddy, who can help new employees get up to speed and become productive in their role more quickly."

Plan and build your onboarding process with the right tools

Once your onboarding strategy has been developed, you’ll need to look at the next level of detail.

How can you bring this to life in a day-to-day context, in a way that reduces risk, minimises effort and delivers the exceptional experience you’ve planned? Cloud-based workforce management software can do much of the heavy lifting and ensure it all comes together.

  • Workforce management tools can help you deliver a quick and simple hiring process, for both your prospective employee, but also your recruitment teams.
  • Choose an option that includes simple file import features that allow you to easily import successful candidates into your systems.
  • Send and receive signed contracts and forms digitally, delivering a fast paper-free process that reduces errors and can be easily audited. This will speed up the hiring process for your new recruit, while optimising your processes.
  • Build and automate workflows so that the right information passes to the right teams without the need for emails and paper trails. This will ensure managers and payroll teams can start work on rostering and pay.
  • Branded candidate and employee communications ensure you’re making the best impression at every step, while employee apps allow you to share rosters or key updates.
  • With a cloud platform you can build a mobile-optimised experience – perfect for industries and roles that aren’t desk-focused.
  • Make sure you can easily meet basic employee expectations, like rostering, pay and communications.
  • For shift-based roles, build trust by ensuring rosters are always in line with employment agreements, and for all team members make sure payments are always accurate. Communication channels should be digital and easy to use, even if the team are on the move.

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