Creating day one connections through employee onboarding

Your employer brand isn’t just what you say it is on job advertisements. Your employer brand is what your current and prospective employees believe it is. As much as we like to believe we exert 100% control over this brand, the truth is that much of its value is driven by experiences.

Nothing is more damaging to either a consumer brand or an employer brand than the gap people have between their expectations and reality. Many organisations will build their employer brand around the idea that they are:

  • warm, welcoming and inclusive

  • excited about the power of technology

  • committed to driving future-focused innovation

However, when an employee arrives for their first day on the job, the company displays absolutely zero of these traits through a terrible onboarding experience. Managers are too busy to find them a desk, IT teams are too busy to set them up with their devices, and HR have taken up the first half of the day with a stack of paperwork to complete.

When every business is competing for the best available talent, we need to remember that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Put simply, we are taking new employees for granted by failing to impress them on the first day. Getting it right can potentially save millions of dollars in recruitment costs.

Poor onboarding experiences contribute heavily to an employee’s impression of your overall culture, and influences their ultimate decision of whether to stay with your company. According to an Aberdeen Onboarding Study, more than 80% of new hires decide whether to stay with an organisation or not within the first six months, regardless of when they eventually leave.

Designing day one

Like every experience in our modern life, digital tools can remove many of the barriers we see to great onboarding experiences. These experiences need to balance the need to give new employees all the information, tools and resources they need to be productive and engaged, while also reducing the amount of manual work required of managers, HR, and IT teams.

  1. Reduce the complexity of systems, and number of manual paper-based processes. There are many interlinking events that occur during onboarding, but where possible these should be integrated to create only a handful of intuitive processes for employees and managers.

  2. Personalise the training and information required for each employee depending on their role, team, or department. Your LMS should enable managers to quickly add or remove training modules based on their relevancy.

  3. Automate notifications to all relevant stakeholders. Managers should be provided with reminders of a new employee’s starting date, while HR and IT teams should be notified to prepare their elements for the arrival of a new employee. No one should be surprised.

  4. Align the employee’s position to company goals so that they have a clear idea how their role will contribute to those goals from day one. Discuss their expected performance goals so that they are dedicated to the right targets, and feeling engaged.

  5. Track the effectiveness of onboarding processes by asking employees to complete a short survey to indicate their level of comfort and confidence on day one. Track these results and correlate them with eventual performance and length of employment.

Overcoming the challenge of regional offices

Guaranteeing the right onboarding experience can be difficult when a new employee is onboarding at a separate location from the head office. To ensure these employees feel a real connection to the organisation from day one, the seamless design of digital interfaces, and HR systems used in the onboarding experience is essential. 

Virtual reality (VR) onboarding is proving particularly effective for delivering a highly engaging experience and helping new employees to build a connection with the business on their first day. Combining new cloud-based learning platforms with the latest in mobile VR technology allows companies to cost-effectively deliver an immersive VR onboarding experience for new employees, wherever they may be.

With the digital tools we have available to us today, there really is no excuse for not creating a seamless and engaging onboarding experience from day one. When we get this right, we can drastically lower our recruiting costs while ensuring we have a committed and engaged workforce who have bought in completely to our organisational culture.

This piece was written by Presence of IT's Marita Mewett and published on LinkedIn.