When creating effective onboarding programs, HR professionals must consider the importance of employee engagement and experience. Creating an onboarding process that gives employees a positive and productive start is easier said than done.
Here are some of the challenges you may face when designing onboarding programs — and how to overcome them.
Balancing Consistency With Customization
One challenge with onboarding is balancing consistency and personalization. On the one hand, it’s important for companies to give each new hire an equivalent onboarding experience. Everyone should have the same thorough understanding of company policies and procedures, for example. On the other hand, it’s equally important to provide a personalized onboarding experience so that each new hire feels supported in their particular role.
Give new hires and their managers some onboarding guidelines, but leave it up to their discretion to determine the level of customization each new hire needs. One way to address the problem is to provide every hiring manager with an onboarding checklist.
An effective onboarding checklist includes core actions every new hire needs to experience, such as developing connections with their manager and team. From there, the checklist can be customized based on the new hire’s job role or the level of support they require. A seasoned hire may require less training on certain systems than an entry-level employee, for example.
Sandvik, a multinational engineering company, needed to standardize onboarding processes across different hiring managers and job types. The company opted to automate many of its onboarding elements through Enboarder to produce a more consistent experience for new hires.
“We wanted to find a solution that would create a consistent onboarding process and a more welcoming experience,” said Kylie Cook, recruiting and talent manager at Sandvik. “Some of the managers were too busy or just didn’t know the onboarding process at Sandvik to provide that consistent experience.”
Customization of the onboarding journey was quickly built out. Enboarder allows the team to alter the steps and content depending on role or location: “We have onboarding workflows for both corporate and deskless staff, and we have different content depending on location so we can cater to different cultures and preferences,” Cook said.
The changes in the process produced a much better experience for everyone involved, while scaling back the time spent managing onboarding by hours per new hire.
Connecting New Hires With the Right Resources and People
New hires often have a steep learning curve for their new employers’ processes, tools, and resources. Absorbing all these new systems, procedures, and knowledge can be difficult to manage without a structured process.
Workflow management software can streamline the onboarding process and keep new hires from becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of communication, content, and resources. By feeding information to new hires in a structured manner, they learn what’s expected of them at a reasonable pace.
An effective onboarding program includes connecting new hires with people who can answer their questions and help them acclimate. Consider implementing a buddy system at work so new hires have a built-in resource to help them adjust to the company’s norms and values.
Lonza, a manufacturer serving the pharmaceutical, biotech, and nutrition industries, needed to deliver a global onboarding experience that made employees feel welcome as soon as they signed their offer letter.
To do that, the company drew a distinction between “hard onboarding,” which covers the compliance documents and tech logistics, and “soft onboarding.”
“Soft onboarding is about giving them the information they need to be prepared and excited to join us on day one,” said Alice Bally-Frankenne, senior director of global HR. “This is about ensuring they’ve had some interaction with their hiring manager and buddy before they start, so they have a support network and feel welcome.”
The results have been staggering, with extremely high engagement rates: 99% for buddies, 98% for hiring managers, and 99% for new hires. “For new joiners, they feel much more welcome,” Bally-Frankenne said. “On day one, they feel more connected not only with Lonza as a company but also with line managers and team members.”
Integrating New Employees Into Company Culture
Feeling comfortable within the company culture is fundamental to a strong work relationship, but achieving this can be challenging. New hires may have trouble navigating unspoken norms and expectations, among other obstacles.
Existing employees are your No. 1 resource for helping new hires embrace the company culture. Mentors and buddies can help new hires explore their new surroundings and ask questions. Give new employees the chance to mingle with their direct colleagues and others across the organization.
Integrating new hires within company culture can be challenging during a digital onboarding experience, especially for remote employees or those with mostly remote colleagues.
Global advertising and communications firm Ogilvy shifted from paper to digital onboarding processes to create a consistent experience, regardless of where they logged in from each day. Enboarder helped Ogilvy rethink new-hire communications, embracing a drip feed of fun, engaging content people could interact with on the go and on their own time.
Now, new hires can get excited about Ogilvy’s culture before their first official day through fun questionnaires and videos from hiring managers. These elements can be delivered virtually, during digital employee onboarding, while still immersing new hires in the company’s culture.