Hacking the Onboarding Process to Provide a Positive Employee Experience

An employee satisfaction survey.

Employee onboarding often highlights legal aspects and implications but sometimes fails to connect employees socially with the business.

According to research from ADP, nearly eight out of 10 employees feel the onboarding process is lacking in some way. As the entry point to the organization — a sort of "honeymoon" phase — it's critically important for employers to provide a positive employee experience during this period.

The employee experience is a powerful way of looking at how we treat our people. It's not about a single interaction, but a sum of them that ultimately makes up the holistic experience. Onboarding is the same way. Instead of seeing it as a simple transactional process (payroll forms, taxes, etc.), it should also be seen as a way to get workers deeply connected to their peers in order to build social connections and deliver on the employer's brand promise. By hacking the onboarding process and changing how we look at the concept, we can give employees a head start on a positive employee experience.

The Legal Aspects of Onboarding

When a worker starts their new job, many of the first-day tasks they complete are fairly routine, regardless of the employer. In the United States, anyone that has started a new job knows the basic checklist:

  • Federal tax form
  • I-9 form
  • Employee handbook acceptance

This is a vastly oversimplified look at the process, but the point is that the focus is often highly oriented toward compliance and legal aspects. Most new hire orientations include training on discrimination, sexual harassment, time tracking and other essential elements. Many employers stop here and go no further, leaving some of the most valuable components out of the equation.

The Social Aspects of Onboarding

In the book The Best Team Wins, the authors point out an organization called Danaher, an $18 billion firm based in the U.S. Danaher has a unique onboarding approach: for the first 90 days on the job, employees are not allowed to do the job they were hired to do. Instead, they spend that time building the necessary relationships, learning the culture and observing how leaders make decisions.

While this isn't feasible for most organizations, the lessons here are incredibly important. We must prioritize social connectivity and cultural immersion to help our people hit the ground running in terms of both productivity and performance. The ADP research cited earlier also points out that managers often spend just seven days onboarding a new hire. Consider your role and some of those within your organization: would seven days be enough to fully grasp the intricacies of the job, nuances of the cultural norms and expectations of your manager and team?

Yes, our workers need to know technical issues like how to get IT support or the process for using the copier, but they also need to know who the subject matter experts are and even what the social norms might be for using the breakroom or the coffee machine.

ADP's onboarding research says workers who are "highly satisfied" with their onboarding experience are almost twice as likely to continue feeling comfortable late into their first year on the job. By giving workers this head start within the onboarding process, employers can provide a positive employee experience from Day One. This helps workers feel more at ease as they step into their role, and more confident as they set goals and begin the steady march toward performance objectives that support the needs of their team and the organization.

For more information on onboarding, watch this short ADP Compliance Talk on things to think about for a compliant onboarding process:

Go Deeper

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