Written on September 12, 2022

Onboarding: Not just an HR thing 

Onboarding: Not just an HR thing 

In a recent webinar by GSoft, Chief People Officer Kahina Ouerdane dissects the important conversation all professionals — from business leaders to employees — are having at the moment: Onboarding remains an integral part of the employee experience. The challenge is: how can we make it better? 

Watch it here 👉 Webinar “If you think onboarding is just an HR thing, you’re doing it wrong!” with Kahina Ouerdane, Chief People Officer, GSoft 

There has been an interesting shift in 2022: onboarding conversations are no longer reserved for HR professionals. As they say, it takes a village — and in the case of new hires — an entire team of managers, peers, and more, to onboard them adequately. 

If you thought onboarding was just an HR thing, think again. Onboarding is everyone’s business. Here’s why.

The importance of employee onboarding 

Onboarding helps new employees integrate into their new roles and environment, and navigate your company culture — the better the onboarding, the faster the feeling of belonging. And belongingness snowballs into a multitude of positive effects — increasing productivity, motivation, retention, and engagement — all of which are important to any well-functioning company. This is especially important to consider in today’s current climate of modern workplace adaptations and distributed workforces. 

Great onboarding helps increase employee productivity, engagement, and retention. 

Employees who feel a sense of belonging in their workplace demonstrate higher engagement rates. And higher engagement means higher productivity and lower absenteeism — which can also mean up to 21% higher profitability

It showcases your company culture even further. 

Because onboarding is such an integral part of the employee experience for new employees, there are many opportunities to pepper in your company culture — your corporate values, beliefs, and systems — within onboarding activities. After all, you want to make sure new hires get a feel of what your company and teams stand for from the get-go and set them up for success early on. 

How can you leverage the onboarding process to showcase your culture? You could do so by providing resources that expand on your company’s inclusivity and diversity commitments or by scheduling weekly 1-on-1s to demonstrate the value of communication.  

Corporate culture plays a big role in retaining employees and in attracting new talent — 47% of people consider culture as an important company attribute when looking for a new job. It is important to  communicate your company culture from the inside out accurately and effectively. 

Onboarding helps mitigate the challenges of remote environments.

More than ever before, creating a sense of belonging is a challenge. In an era where remote and hybrid work is normalized, how do you ensure new employees feel like they belong with a group of people they have never met in person? How do you create cohesive experiences for everyone with employees displaced across different cities and time zones without the help of sharing the same office?  

The need to create onboarding experiences that connect employees with each other, and ensure everyone is on the same page, no matter where they are, is now more critical than ever. 

We’re not saying it’s easy, but belongingness through a digital lens is achievable — it requires creativity, care, and the openness to “re-learn” past processes and ways we interact. There may not be set-in-stone best practices yet, but the key is to create intentional and human moments throughout the onboarding process, and to be consistent. 

What should you include in employee onboarding?  

The basics of great onboarding are pretty straightforward: 

  • Make a plan, map out a timeline, and set milestones 

Planning ensures you know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and in what amount of time. You should include a clear structure with milestones and time-bound objectives in all your onboardings. This organization is helpful for both the one supervising the onboarding and the newcomer.  

A comprehensive onboarding plan usually spans one year and includes the pre-boarding, first day, first month, and first year stages. There are onboarding activities specific to those periods, while others can be overarching throughout the entire plan.  

💡 Check out our super useful templates with employee onboarding checklists that cover pre-boarding, first day, first month, and first year stages. 

  • Provide useful documents and resources 
    You should include additional resources your new employees can access at any time throughout their onboarding to help them better integrate into the company. Such resources could include the office rule book, process guidelines, or case studies on past projects.  

One great Softstart features is a resource library, where you can quickly assemble everything in one place and share it with new employees. 

  • Enlist the help of peers 
    And by that, we don’t just mean HR peers —  we also mean team leaders, direct managers, colleague, IT experts, and anyone else that a new employee should know and/or will work with. Great onboarding thrives from collaboration, so ask peers to help you bring to life some of the onboarding moments you’ll plan.   

With Softstart’s video recording feature, everyone can create dynamic and engaging introduction messages or clips sharing something that is important to them, which is a neat way to meet and get to know new colleagues remotely. 

  • Prioritize communication 

We cannot stress the human component enough when we talk about great onboarding experiences. And the best way to humanize those is with face-to-face (or screen-to-screen) 1-on-1s that encourage communication, feedback, and relationship building.  

Like a pancake, your first onboarding may be more laborious than the rest. However, the time you invest planning onboarding experiences for one employee is worth it as you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. You can turn any great onboarding plan into an onboarding template that can then be tweaked and personalized at need. 

👀 Discover the top best practices to onboard a new employee like a pro.

What is team onboarding?  

By now, you’re probably up to speed on what onboarding is and why it’s so important. But what about team onboarding? How is team onboarding different from regular onboarding? 

Team onboarding is the introduction of a new employee to their direct team and how they will work together. It is part of the broader onboarding of a new employee joining your company for the first time. Team onboarding can also happen with existing employees who are already well integrated into the company and are moving teams or departments, or returning from leave. 

Proximity experience has influence 

Our work experience is, more than ever, a proximity experience. Most of our interactions and collaborations happen within our direct circles — in a company environment, that usually means our immediate team. Naturally, employees create deeper connections with a smaller set of colleagues that work in proximity to them. 

It is important not to underestimate the influence that team experiences have on new employees. They play an integral part in creating a sense of connection and belonging. That said, belongingness needs to happen not just at a team level but also at a company level. Hence why you need to be intentional about every team onboarding moment.  

Proximity experiences — team onboarding experiences — should be leveraged to aid the big-picture of a new employee’s onboarding.  

Example of good team onboarding activities 

Is it possible for team onboarding activities to work hand-in-hand with the general onboarding of a new employee? Can team-specific activities still satisfy the objectives of onboarding from a wider lens? Absolutely. 

Why managers should be part of your onboarding process  

Managers play an essential role throughout onboarding journeys in two ways. Firstly, they have leadership responsibilities — they bridge the gap between the employees and the company  and represent your company’s culture. Secondly, they are part of the proximity experiences that heavily influence what new employees live through daily. 

Managers are often the leading facilitators of onboarding activities, holding 1-on-1s and being first in line for help and support throughout the onboarding process, so they should be included at all onboarding stages — including the planning, implementation, and adjustments of onboarding experiences. 

Great onboarding leads to company success

Today, we understand great onboarding experiences to be integrative, comprehensive, intentional, and (most of all) human. And for that to happen — all hands on deck are needed:  HR managers, team leaders, team members, indirect peers, and more. 

The return on investment of thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding strategies benefits every aspect of company activities, from recruitment to performance. This can be measured in both tangible and intangible ways. 

We’re ready when you are. Get your free Softstart trial underway now. 

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