Welcome to the second post in this series on strategic employee onboarding where we tackle the first of six questions prevalent in the market today. Question #1: What real business results are possible with a strategic onboarding process?
We hear the topic “employee onboarding” mentioned quite often these days. It is discussed by human resource industry analysts in reports, featured in people management webinars, the subject of many a strategic employee onboarding blog post and discussed in hiring & onboarding articles in HR industry publications. It is trumpeted as a key area for improvement within talent management and key opportunity for the productive application of social technology.
But does a strategic onboarding process produce any real business results?
Let’s take a step back and examine why real business results are important for the human resources department. As HR’s role within a company evolves from administrative to strategic, being able to demonstrate real business results in support of company objectives grows in importance for the simple reason that they are understood and valued across departments, throughout the company and right up to the C-Suite. HR can leverage results to build credibility, improve its standing within the company and get support for future initiatives.
According to research by the Aberdeen Group, strategic onboarding produces the following positive business results:
- Improved customer retention (customer loyalty)
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Higher revenue per FTE (full-time employee)
Nice! But these results are likely different than what you are used to hearing because onboarding is typically promoted by looking at HR-centric benefits: “better realization of HR recruiting efforts”, “improved new employee time to productivity”, “reduced new hire administration costs” and “increased new employee retention”. However, it does make sense that the internal (employee) benefits of a strategic onboarding process would translate into improved external (customer) results.
Let’s dig a little deeper to uncover how this occurs.
Strategic onboarding covers forms management, task management and socialization. Automating forms and simplifying and expediting tasks create efficiencies for HR professionals and new employees. It reduces the time required by human resources staff to administer this process, giving HR the option to reduce headcount or strategically reassigning their people to higher value initiatives. And it reduces the time new employees spend on these processes instead of their work, creating a more positive onboarding experience.
For instance, new employees might be pleasantly surprised their forms have been auto-populated with their information and there is no repetitive data entry, but instead they only need to review and update their data. They will feel like their time is valued as the pile of paper forms are replaced by an easy-to-use online HR process featuring built-in instructions and wikis, comments and tags providing additional help. Some solutions, like cfactor’s, feature live HR chat consultation to ensure employees speed through their forms and tasks. All of this greatly facilitates pension and benefits decision making for new employees.
The positive new employee experience is perhaps most influenced by the third component of a strategic onboarding process: socialization. Socialization can be divided into two parts:
- Culturalization – engaging the employee with the company culture, goals, mission and vision; and
- Socialization – the fostering of a personal connection between the new employee and peers, work and social groups, programs, initiatives and more.
Connecting new employees into the company creates better informed and engaged employees who are clear about what they need to do to help the company succeed and better prepared to collaborate and get their work done. Connection with mentors and with work and social groups using social networking and social learning tools helps a new employee fit in and helps them gain confidence. This reinforces the decision to work at your company was the right one. This recipe for employee performance success logically leads to more productive employees who are highly engaged and thus, more inclined to deliver superior customer experiences and value.
In summary, it is clear adopting a strategic onboarding process will deliver both internal successes (performance improvement, talent development, work culture, job satisfaction) and significant, highly valued business results (customer retention and satisfaction, higher revenue per employee) both of which are of strategic value to the human resources department.
But how long does this strategic onboarding process have to last in order to be effective? We’ll get to that question in our next blog post!