How to Radically Improve Your Onboarding Process with the People Activation Model

Posted in Best Practice Research Thoughts & Culture

Ok, by now we’ve all seen the stereotypical onboarding posts - 

 

A well lit picture of a smiling employee with a perfectly manicured desk, personalized card, flowers, company branded tee shirts, coffee cups, and other random office paraphernalia strewn about. 

 

...but that’s only one tiny piece of onboarding. 

In reality, onboarding is an incredibly complex process - It starts when your employee accepts your offer and can continue several months into the job. Your new hire, HR, and the hiring manager have to be intentional about everything from reserving laptops and other equipment and getting access to the right systems, to setting up times to arrange things like compliance/HR paperwork, team intros, trainings, and ongoing regular check-ins. 

 

There are a lot of moving pieces which have to click perfectly into place, all while the hiring manager is still tending to his daily responsibilities and your new hire is dealing with the rush of emotions from starting a new career journey.

 

...so is it really a surprise that poor onboarding experiences account for 43% of employee turnover during the first month?

 

Nope. 

 

In fact, your new hire is watching the whole process unfold and making judgements about your company from their first day. Within the first 6 months, 86% of new hires have already decided how long they will stay with a company...and 10-25% of them leave.

 

With the latest estimates showing that it costs 1.5-2x an employee's annual salary to replace a new hire who leaves, it’s absolutely imperative that you nail the onboarding process - Oh, and now you have to do it all in a hybrid work environment. NBD.

 

So, with so much that has to go right, how can you increase your chances of onboarding success?

 

You have to flip the script.

 

We spent the past several years interviewing thousands of employees, speaking with *real-life* HR thought leaders, and studying alongside behavioral scientists to discover how to use the science of influence, persuasion, and motivation to make onboarding effective and easy (...and even a little fun) for everyone involved.

 

The result?

 

The People Activation Model.

 

(Want to know more about the model? You can read all about it here.)

 

The 4 Components of People Activation

Basically, for the onboarding process to run smoothly, you need to get all parties to take the right actions at the right time, and the science shows that this timely, meaningful action only happens when you have 4 specific components in play at the same time:

 

Engagement

woman placing sticky notes on wall

Ok, look - The “E-word” is way overused, but the concept is solid.


Simply put, science and experience shows that your new hire and the onboarding team respond better when they feel like the experience is personalized to them and that they’re participating in an experience with a bigger, meaningful purpose.

 

Here are a couple of simple ways to make that happen:

 

  • Personalize the onboarding experience based on the newbie’s location, team or personal background. Encourage them to share who they are as a person and what enables them to be their best selves.
  • Get the paperwork out of the way during pre-boarding so Day 1 can be all about people.
  • Encourage your hiring managers to start building a relationship with their new team member even before Day 1. Motivate them to send personal messages and welcome videos when they reach out.
  • Let IT, Facility Management and any other stakeholder know how pivotal their role in a great onboarding experience is - retaining A-players will benefit everyone.

 

Remember, your new hire is making a huge emotional decision and investment in your company by signing on with you. Make sure they can tell that you’re making an equally big fuss about them too.

 

Nudges

Most of us can’t remember what we had for breakfast, let alone remember step 12 of the new hire process...

 

...and that’s why nudges are so great! They’re helpful, bite-sized, and relevant communications, delivered at the right time, with the right information. 

 

Sending nudge reminders means that your new hire or onboarding team doesn’t have to mentally keep track of every step of the onboarding process - They just get a gentle reminder of what they need to do, right when they need to do it.

 

Try this:

 

  • Send a message to a hiring manager with a link to their onboarding checklist 1 week before a new hire starts.
  • Keep your new hire pumped by sending a few “We’re so excited you're joining us!” and “Did you have any questions before your first day?” messages in the weeks or days before their start date.
  • Keep your new hire’s morale high, by sending the hiring manager and teammates nudges to check in on their new hire every couple of days to make sure everything’s going smoothly!
  • Give IT and Security notice when they need to get equipment ready

 

By sending nudges to your new hire and onboarding team you greatly increase the odds of them taking all of the necessary steps at the right time.

 

Ease 

man in black long sleeve shirt sitting on chair beside woman in black and white stripe

Friction comes in handy when you’re trying to light a match, but it will absolutely kill your onboarding process.

 

Every extra link someone has to click, or login that needs to be remembered, is another opportunity for your people to get distracted or give up on the process. (Don’t believe us? Research shows that 43% of hybrid workers said they gave up on a task in the last year because they couldn’t remember their password.)

 

Just like in all other areas of life, if you want someone to do something, make it easy for them to do it:

 

  • Use their messenger of choice (Does your new hire prefer Slack? Email? Text?)
  • Reduce the number of different system log-ins (Can you text a direct link to content instead of sending them to a system?)
  • Make each task easy to complete (e.g. use a One-click button to acknowledge a request or to send a pre-written message from the hiring manager.)

 

Every step you take to remove friction, helps your new hire and onboarding team get one step closer to completing all of the necessary tasks for a successful onboarding!

 

Connection

Three coworkers sitting together laughing Surface laptop on furniture

One of the biggest fears new hires have is being alone and not knowing what to do or where to go for help. Engagement, Nudges, and Ease are great tools, but Connection is what ties them all together and makes your new hire feel confident that they’re joining a supportive team.

 

  • Involve the whole team with nudge reminders to introduce themselves and welcome their new hire to the company.
  • If you don’t already have them in place, set up a buddy system, and send nudge reminders to buddies or managers to ensure they’re keeping up with their new hires to improve connection and morale.

 

No one wants to feel like an island - Be sure you’re involving your whole team in the onboarding process so your new hire gets a sneak peek of the awesome team they’ll be joining!

 

 

...Oh, one more thing.

The 4 tactics we covered are incredibly useful, but if you really want to hit the next-level of onboarding success, they have to be done the right way.

 

This is the heart of the “flipping the script” we mentioned earlier - for these elements to work most effectively, you have to engage each element with your new hire in mind! (We call this the Human-Centric wrapper.)

 

Put yourself in your new hire’s shoes by asking yourself these questions:

 

  • What is your new hire going through mentally and feeling emotionally as they move through your onboarding process? 
  • How much information can they handle at a time?
  • What are their potential fears or concerns - and what would help alleviate them?
  • What information and support do they need from you at each stage of the onboarding process?

man smiling while sitting and using MacBook

Your new hires will be able to feel the difference when you’ve built your onboarding journey with them in mind, and, you’ll start to reap the benefits of great onboarding like:

 

 

Remember: You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so start showing your new hires some love today! 

Want to see results faster?

We got you.

 

We built our whole platform around this very psychology and the 4 elements of People Activation so you can build and deploy effective human-centric journeys from day one.

 

Watch the quick, 5 minute video below to see Enboarder in action and find out why our customers are seeing results like:

 

  • 16% decrease in turnover rate (Australian Retail Organization)
  • 20% YoY decrease in 6 month leavers (Global technology company)
  • 50% reduction in new hire no-shows (Global Retail Organization)
  • 71% reduction in 90-day attrition (Major US telecommunications company)
  • 75% reduction in admin time per new hire (Cricut)
  • $120,000 savings from increased onboarding efficiency (Lease Plan)

 

Whether it’s onboarding, learning and development, change management, diversity and inclusion, or employee transitions, we’ve reimagined HR.

Come Join the People Activation Revolution!