Guidelines for Creating an Engaging Employee Onboarding Program
In very general terms, the hiring process is broken down into three main components: Recruiting, interviewing and screening, and onboarding. Even if you have the first two steps dialed in, not having a structured onboarding system or strategy can undo your hard work and make it much more difficult for new hires to successfully acclimate.
Here’s a look at the importance of onboarding and how to create an engaging and effective program for your restaurant.
Why Is Onboarding Important?
Although you will certainly establish some type of baseline relationship with new employees during the initial hiring stages, onboarding allows new employees, management, and other team members the opportunity to get to know each other in a more every day, true-to-life fashion. Now that the employee is officially one of the crew and the pressure associated with interviewing and waiting is over, it’s common for everyone to relax a bit.
This mental and emotional transition makes onboarding the perfect time to build a rapport and introduce an in-depth look at the company’s culture, employee behavioral standards, and job duties and expectations as well as provide training and associated resources. Onboarding procedures, which typically span several weeks up to one year, ease the employee into the workplace, resulting in a less rigid and forced acclimation period and a more natural teambuilding outcome.
Because the onboarding process should reflect your unique culture, each restaurant’s strategy will look and feel a bit different. Regardless of the variation, there are a few tried-and-true guidelines that everyone should follow:
- Takeoff begins with pre-boarding. Onboarding begins immediately following offer acceptance, not on the employee’s first physical day of work. Pre-boarding involves providing the employee access to information like company policies, new hire paperwork, benefits information, and an onboarding schedule or agenda prior to their first day of work. According to the Aberdeen Group’s report Welcome to the 21st Century, Onboarding!, 69 percent of best-in-class companies participate in pre-boarding as compared to 45 percent of all other companies. It sets the stage for engagement and communication, giving the employee ample time to review critical items, ask questions, and address any concerns.
- Shake it up. We’ve probably all been subjected to a dry or humorless employee orientation session at least once in our careers. Instead of leaving employees bored or eyeing the door, onboarding should hit the three E’s — it should excite, energize, and engage new employees. It’s an opportunity to reinforce the employee’s decision to work there as well as demonstrate the benefits they’ll gain and how they can best achieve success both short- and long-term.
- Nix the hyperbole. While onboarding establishes an open line of communication to discuss all things employment-related, you want to ensure that you provide accurate and realistic information. Avoid exaggerations or making promises that will be difficult or impossible to keep. You’re building trust with the employee and intentionally or unintentionally making overstatements will undermine that foundation.
- Keep it going. The most effective onboarding process is just that…a process. It’s not a small commitment of a few hours or days. True onboarding is based on establishing a support and mentorship system that guides the employee through at least the first 90 days, clear on up to a full year in some cases. This time investment can be instrumental in ebbing the turnover flow. According to a recent Korn Ferry Futurestep survey, more than 50 percent of companies have onboarding programs lasting only one week or less. Interestingly and perhaps linked to shorter onboarding periods, 52 percent of employers report losing between 10 and 25 percent of new hires within six months.
Pathway for Success
Think of onboarding as an investment in the success of your employees, both new and existing. New hires benefit from deeper engagement and a better understanding of the workplace culture and job expectations. In turn, this decreases the stress felt by the new employee as well as the residual stress and disruption to the rest of the team.
Developing a customized and well-structured onboarding strategy may seem excessive, but it pays substantial dividends:
- Sixty-nine percent of employees who have a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stay with the company for three years, according to research from Click Boarding. A standardized onboarding process can also generate 50 percent greater new hire productivity.
- A study by Brandon Hall Group found that companies who invested in developing a “moderately effective” onboarding strategy realized a 78 percent boost in revenue, with 33 percent seeing an increase of at least 10 percent.
- The same study reported that 54 percent of these companies saw significant gains in employee engagement, turnover, absenteeism, productivity, and job satisfaction.
Less turnover, increased revenue and productivity. Happier, more engaged employees. That’s what you can look forward to following the launch of a robust onboarding strategy.