Onboarding means all the activities that help to familiarize employees with their job and with the organizational culture. Effective onboarding also supports employees in building their own network within the organization and in translating organizational goals into personal ones.
Onboarding can also have a strong motivational effect, as employees are then proud of having chosen this job and this organization. Onboarding should ideally be a mutual process where employees and employers maintain a dialog to align their expectations.
Five main goals of the onboarding process
Onboarding has five main goals:
- To motivate and support employees to perform independently quickly
- To align mutual expectations
- To clarify how employees can contribute to organizational goals
- To help employees to connect with colleagues and the organization
- To innovate from within the organization based on feedback from newcomers
Why is onboarding important?
There are many benefits of effective onboarding. If onboarding is effective, you not only prevent early departures, it also triggers a chain of positive consequences. These are the benefits of an effective onboarding program:
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1. Greater engagement
One of the main goals of onboarding is to motivate and support employees to perform independently quickly. This requires not only the right technical resources, but also plenty of room to make and implement their own decisions. “That automatically means that managers must give new team members sufficient responsibility during onboarding as well,” says onboarding expert Ardiënne Verhoeven of Workwonders. Sufficient autonomy therefore improves performance, increases engagement at work and increases productivity.
What is engagement?
Engagement is the extent to which employees are absorbed in their work. “Engaged employees are the gems of the organization. They are passionate about their work and deliver higher quality,” says Guido Heezen, Director at Effectory. This group of employees is more effective, efficient and customer-focused. They learn faster and are more creative. Engagement is therefore a good predictor for customer satisfaction, low employee turnover, high productivity and profitability.
2. Increased commitment
Effective onboarding means new employees can familiarize themselves properly with the organizational culture, develop a relationship with colleagues, build their own network within the organization and feel that they are part of things. Good onboarding should ideally be a mutual process where organizations do their best to meet the individual needs of employees and where both parties maintain an ongoing dialog to ensure they align their expectations.
You should also ensure that employees are well informed about the organizational goals and clear on how they can contribute to them. As well as having a practical purpose, this will also help to motivate them. Employees like to be of value; not only for their employer, but also for society as a whole. Good employers set a course that appeals to employees; for example, because of a high degree of social relevance.
What is commitment?
Commitment, is the extent to which employees feel part of the organization. Heezen says “Employees who feel committed to the organization care about the business. They find they are a good fit with the organization and the organizational goals, so they want to contribute to the success of the organization.”
Dedicated staff are less likely to report sick and less likely to leave the organization. This group of employees is generally more proactive, productive and quality-focused. That’s why employee commitment is seen as an important predictor for an organization’s performance.
3. Lower employee turnover
Positive onboarding can have a strong motivational effect, as employees are then proud of having chosen this job and this organization. Effective onboarding therefore results in lower employee turnover. Verhoeven: “If employees feel connected to the organization and at an earlier stage, if things are organized the way they like them and they can have their say, they are less likely to leave prematurely or drop out psychologically. In the latter case, they still do their job but not as well.”
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4. More innovation
Onboarding is a great opportunity for employers to innovate from within by listening to feedback from new employees, Verhoeven: “New employees don’t always know if coming up with new ideas is appreciated or appropriate. However, if you give them sufficient autonomy and also show them in other ways that you are open to innovation, they are far more likely to share their ideas. Not only does this give the organization the opportunity to really benefit from the knowledge and experience of new employees, but employees also feel better heard and more appreciated.”
5. Stronger appeal to talent: eNPS
Good onboarding leads to more powerful employer branding. Verhoeven: “If onboarding is going well, newcomers will be further assured they have made the right choice. This will turn them into proud ambassadors for the employers’ brand and will also make it easier to find new employees through existing employees. Good onboarding leads to more successful referral recruiting and a higher employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS).”
Would You Recommend Your Employer to Others?
You measure the employee eNPS by asking your employees the following question in feedback surveys: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend your employer to other people?” To calculate the eNPS, divide the scores into three categories. If someone gives a 9 or a 10, they are a “promoter”, a score lower than 6 makes the employee a “critic” and all others are “passively satisfied”. The eNPS is the difference between the percentage of promoters and the percentage of detractors.
Ardiënne Verhoeven founded Workwonders in 2000 as a consultancy company specializing in onboarding and recruitment. She has written two books about onboarding, including Onboarding: het managen van verwachtingen (Onboarding: managing expectations). Ardiënne Verhoeven studied law and business administration at the University of Groningen (RUG). She then spent eight years as HR manager at KPN and Unilever, where she gained experience in areas including recruitment, selection, coaching and developing management talent.
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