Employee Onboarding Is More Than an Orientation Packet! [Strategies to Increase Employee Engagement From Day One]

A robust employee onboarding plan can boost new hire engagement from day one. Bolster your onboarding process and employee retention rates with these strategies.

The quality of an employee onboarding process can have a significant impact on employee retention rates for an organization. Whether employees become long-term hires is highly dependent on setting employees up for a successful onboarding experience.

According to data from SHRM, 69% of employees are more willing to stay with a company for several years after having a solid onboarding experience. When organizations maintain healthy onboarding processes, new hire retention can improve by 82%, and productivity by over 70%.

While orientation and onboarding go hand-in-hand, employers shouldn’t confuse the two or use the terms interchangeably. Orientation is only one small part of the entire employee onboarding plan. Onboarding is an organization's chance to welcome new hires into the company culture and reinforce their training throughout the process and beyond.

Many companies miss the mark on leveraging the employee onboarding process to best set employees up for success. Companies make the mistake of handing new hires a stack of paperwork on their first day, shuffling them around the office, escorting them to their assigned work area, and simply calling it a day with no further direction. However, the employee onboarding process should entail so much more—especially when striving to reduce employee attrition.

In the world of hybrid and remote workforces, onboarding processes must vary between in-person activities and virtual opportunities, providing a consistently positive experience to allow new employees to connect fully with the company culture. Ultimately, incorporating a robust employee onboarding process for a distributed workforce is pivotal in increasing employee engagement from the first day of employment. And incorporating technology into the onboarding process is a crucial element for the modern workforce.

In this article, you’ll discover how a well-crafted employee onboarding plan and utilizing learning technology to elevate the process can have a significant impact on overall employee engagement and retention rates.

Before the First Day

Encourage new hires to complete any employee paperwork prior to reporting to work for their first day.

Use a virtual training platform to send new employees an Orientation Microlearning Program that includes new hire paperwork, instructions, and important information in preparation for the new hires' first day.  This program could give the employee a place to ask and answer questions or give feedback on the process, in turn making in-person time more effective because both parties know the topics they need to address.

Make the First Day Count

Although a smaller portion of the full onboarding process, orientation plays a key role in setting new employees up for success. Orientation is the first step in welcoming recruits while introducing them to new coworkers, and the facilities for in-person roles. This part of the process should be consistent regardless of the type of workforce.

A distributed workforce will benefit from virtual onboarding options whether they’re in-office employees, remote staff, or a hybrid combination. For example, employers could use a microlearning platform to provide new employees with foundational company information, like company structure or benefits and HR resources, in their first day or two. Providing this digitally in the first couple of days gives the employee the opportunity to get familiar with company technology and information in one go, as well as allows for better use of one-on-one time because it won't have to be spent walking through logistical details.

On the first day, new hires should become familiarized with work-related technologies and platforms that they’ll use on a regular basis. Creating a short microlearning program is a great way to get new employees set up and trained on all the necessary company communication channels and systems, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Asana, or Salesforce. This program could include links to each platform, instructions for setting up their account, and 'how to' educational materials. Prearrange a virtual welcome meeting to introduce them to key team members and department heads.

Ensure all the right marks for a first-day checklist are accounted for to streamline the employee onboarding process.

Pre-Plan the First-Day Schedule

Don't let new employees sit idly at their desks on day one, waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Create a defined first-day schedule, including time for virtual training moments for new hires to keep them engaged from the start.

Send a Welcome Email About What to Expect

Giving new hires some sense of direction before they walk in the door can ease some of their first-day jitters.

Through a learning and communications platform, you could send a few messages in the days leading up to the employees' start date letting them know what to expect, or providing helpful information about the company or other details.

You can also reinforce company culture in this program by expressing how excited you are to have them join the team, perhaps sharing messages from new coworkers or a unique welcome graphic.

Meet With New Hires Early on Their First Day

Whether physically or digitally, greeting new hires at the start of their first day helps set a precedent and encourages participation immediately. The agenda might include a fun ice-breaker activity, a review of the microlearning program they completed before starting, and some time outlining the day's goals and expectations.

Check-In Before Day’s End  

While their experience is fresh in their mind, the end of the employee's first day should include space to give feedback on how it went and how they're feeling about the weeks to come. Using a microlearning platform, the organization can capture employee feedback in their own words and determine a baseline of employee sentiment that they can use to track growth or change over time.

employees meeting, focused on one woman

Fast Track Employee Onboarding in Week One

After a successful first day, the first week of employee onboarding should accomplish two important things:

  • Immersion in company culture
  • Understanding of work-related tasks

There's a fine line between immersion and indoctrination in company culture. New hires bring their own talents and personality to the workplace. Instead of stripping those away, find out your new hires’ values, like through a survey or open response question in your comprehensive onboarding microlearning program, then determine ways to integrate the two.

To demonstrate this difference, Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist and Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, conducted decade-long research into the employee onboarding processes of different companies. Gino found that it can create tension when companies impose their values on new hires. New hires who are conditioned to accept organizational identity may feel like they have to suppress their own identity while at work.

Gino said "suppressing one's identity is upsetting and psychologically depleting"two outcomes you'd never want with a new hire.

Give new hires space to share their strengths and values to better understand what they're bringing—more than what is revealed during the interview and hiring process. The employer could work personalized questions, like Gino suggests, into their virtual new hire onboarding program. Questions like: 'What is unique about you that leads to your best performance and happiest times at work?'

While much of their first week is about company culture, new hires inevitably have to start their training. As the first week rounds out, new hires should have a full understanding of their duties and feel prepared for the month ahead.

Employees’ first week on the job should be mapped out much like the pre-planning of their first day. Providing a detailed training program for employees to focus on each day of their first week helps provide direction and prevents unproductive downtime.

Boost Employee Engagement Within the First Month

The first 30 days of employee onboarding are crucial for teaching new hires about their tasks and responsibilities. After all, they’re ultimately there to perform a job.

By the end of the first 30 days on the job, new employees should be working independently, without the need for much shadowing by upper management. However, there are several steps you must take to get new hires' autonomy. A defined plan is crucial, which is why using a structured virtual microlearning program is beneficial.

Creating a role-specific microlearning program can make the new hires' training more streamlined, as they'll have a chronologically sound breakdown of their onboarding plan. This program should introduce new hires to systems and tools they'll need on the job. Include links to access the company’s online platforms and provide information on how and when to use each system, and who to contact with any questions, while they progress through the training.

Once their systems are set up, provide a video walkthrough of a typical day. Provide them with a list of daily duties, introduce them to team members, and explain how their roles function together.

At the end of the first month, it's crucial to determine what new hires have learned, evaluate how they're doing, and identify opportunities for improvement.

This can be done as part of the augmented microlearning onboarding process. Incorporating quiz questions, self-reflection questions, and other pull-method elements helps reinforce the information for employees and gives employers good insight into how a new hire is progressing.

In the modern hybrid and remote workforce, employers are looking for innovative ways to incorporate technology to train new hires more efficiently. Incorporating an online learning and communication platform to complement the employee onboarding process enables new hires to learn everything they need to know more quickly, and on one platform in a fun, informative way.

woman working on laptop, smiling

Reinforce Training and Engagement Over the First 90 Days

After the new hires' first month, they should be mostly self-sufficient. The second month should focus on teamwork and taking on greater responsibility. Between days 30 and 90, new hires will receive their most intensive training and perhaps be given responsibility for a small project or team to test their management and leadership capabilities.

By day 90, new hires should be fully acclimated members of the organization.

The only way to ensure new hires are fully ramped by day 90 (or earlier) is to continually reinforce the training they receive. This can be done in the flow of work so as not to cause disruption as they settle into a routine. Bite-sized bursts of microlearning presented on their phone or in a web browser over the course of a few weeks will help ensure the important information new employees learn sticks to memory.

Continued training may seem monotonous, but studies show that learners only remember 50% of training after the first five weeks. This paints an especially stark picture when according to data from ATD, only 1% of the typical workweek is dedicated to training and development.

As training is reinforced and responsibility delegated, new hires will make more meaningful contributions with each passing week. Setting smaller goals for new hires over the first 90 days will help them contribute to the company's mission and truly feel like part of the team.

Better Employee Onboarding with Mindmarker

Employee onboarding is more than new hire paperwork, tech stacks, and office tours.

It's an ongoing process of introducing new hires to company culture and policy while welcoming their personal contributions. A robust onboarding process reinforces lessons learned throughout training so, that after 90 days, new hires become integral members of the team.

Virtual microlearning tools are essential for teaching those initial lessons and reinforcing them as time goes on.

Mindmarker's online learning platform makes microlearning and training reinforcement relevant, fun, and engaging without being disruptive!

Mindmarker allows employers to design individualized employee onboarding programs to help new hires acclimate faster. Through engaging microlearning activities like polls, quizzes, open response questions, and self-reflections, employers can garner insight about new hires in their own words. Hiring managers receive crucial information about the new employee's perceived areas of strength, needs for improvement, and reflections on the process, as well as the ability to measure their knowledge of the company, team, and key job responsibilities.

Contact Mindmarker today to discover how virtual learning tools can strengthen your company's employee onboarding process and increase employee retention rates.


   
   

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