The Human Side of Employee Onboarding: Creating Memorable Experiences

by Deputy Team, 6 minutes read
HOME blog the human side of employee onboarding creating memorable experiences

Recruitment can be a lengthy and expensive process. A new hire can take a while to get up to expected productivity levels, which all come at a cost to your organisation. With all this weighing on you, you may be tempted to push the 'hit the ground running' mentality. 

However, businesses that do so end up with disengaged, frustrated, and under-supported employees. So, what can businesses do instead? They should have a well-thought-out, motivational onboarding process that encourages growth. 

When an onboarding process is done right, it can create a feeling of belonging and loyalty. And ultimately boost productivity, performance, and employee retention rates. Keep reading to learn more.

Employee Onboarding and Human Connection

Employee onboarding isn’t all about paperwork and procedures. It's also about fostering a human connection in the workplace. At its core, employee onboarding is all about interpersonal relationships – which cultivates a sense of belonging for new employees

The human connection aspect of onboarding is all about bridging the gap between newcomers and their colleagues. When new hires feel welcomed and connected to their team, they are likelier to become engaged, share ideas, and collaborate. 

This can all impact their long-term commitment to the organisation and productivity levels. This has been reflected time and again by studies and surveys. One well-known study showed that 93% of respondents agreed that a well-thought-out onboarding process influenced their idea to remain at their company. 

Other studies indicate that a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82%, with employees feeling 18 times more committed to their organisation when compared to those with poor onboarding. Good onboarding can also boost levels of productivity by over 70%.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Employee Onboarding

Empathy and emotional intelligence are essential in creating a positive onboarding experience. Empathetic managers can put themselves in the new employee's shoes. They understand the unique challenges and emotions of new recruits. 

Armed with this information, they can provide the right support by giving reassurance and guidance and making onboarding less daunting. Knowing this, how can organisations build a memorable, motivational onboarding process?

How to Create a Memorable Onboarding Experience

Your employee onboarding process begins before the new recruit’s first day. But done right, onboarding takes months, giving employees the time and resources needed to thrive at your organisation. Below are our recommendations for building a compelling onboarding experience.

1. During Recruitment

Your employee’s experience begins during the hiring phase. Every step should be welcoming, thoughtful, and seamless. Rather than considering recruitment as some test, consider it a way to get to know each other and see if it’s the right fit.. This can save you money and time in the long run.

Ensure you have a clear job description that accurately outlines what is expected. Your prospective employees should know what it is like to work at your company by knowing their daily requirements. 

Throughout the hiring process, prove your commitment to open communication by keeping them updated at every stage. Respond promptly to any questions they may have.

2. The Job Offer

Give the job offer over the phone to keep the whole process human and meaningful. Be polite and responsive during any relevant salary negotiations. If handled badly, the process can become confrontational and tense — which is not the best start to an employee’s experience.

Consider flexibility at every stage, especially if this value is significant to your company. This will come into play when discussing starting dates and working options, such as remote or hybrid working.

During this crucial stage, some companies like to send out welcome packs. They can include an employee handbook, an office map, information on culture and strategy, and a pre-onboarding survey.

Surveys can provide useful baseline data that will allow you to track and increase levels of employee engagement. You might also want to include something fun, like a branded mug or t-shirt, to get them even more excited about their first day.

3. The First Day

Every employee should know what to expect on day one. You don’t want them to feel lost, confused, or forgotten at any point. With a clear schedule and checklist, your employee will know exactly how their day will pan out. 

It’s a good idea to start with an office tour and to arrange a welcome meeting before being introduced to their team. The manager should outline their role, their purpose (and how it supports the company’s mission and goals), and how success will be measured.

With the more expected tasks, such as setting up new equipment, creating new passwords, and logging into accounts, consider taking your new employee out for lunch or coffee with other key team members. This will allow them to get a feel of the workplace culture.

4. The First Week

This is a great time to set expectations and performance objectives. Focus on the next three months, six months, and a year. Knowing what should be done by certain timeframes will help employees stay on track and keep them motivated. 

However, they should be supported with regular one-on-one meetings with their manager to hold them accountable and motivated. Make sure the first meeting happens in week one.

The first week is crucial for developing relationships between managers and employees. Share how feedback works and explain. How you assign tasks and how the business operates. These insights will help set the tone for the months to come.

5. The First Three Months

Continue to schedule regular one-on-ones during these months. Hold a thirty-day check-in to see how your new hire is doing. Gather feedback on the onboarding process, how they’re tracking assignments, and if they have any outstanding questions or concerns.

Continual assessment and communication will show you care about your employee’s input and insights. On a human level, employees need to know that their voices are being valued and heard.

How to Measure Employee Onboarding Success

You may think you’re doing everything right. Still, you can’t be sure of its effectiveness in employee engagement, retention, and productivity unless you track and measure the process over time. 

So, how can you tell if your employee onboarding process is impactful? There are many ways in which you can measure the impact of onboarding:

  • Employee surveys: Use surveys to ask questions about their experiences, the quality of training, and overall satisfaction. Analysing these responses can offer valuable insights–especially if they’re carried out over time at different points.

  • Time to Productivity: Measure the time new employees take to become fully productive. Compare this to industry benchmarks or the company's historical data. A shorter time to productivity often indicates a successful onboarding process.

  • Retention rates: Track employee retention rates, particularly during the first year of employment. High turnover among recently onboarded employees might suggest issues with the onboarding process.

  • Engagement levels: Assess the engagement levels of newly onboarded employees. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organisation and perform well. You can measure engagement through employee engagement surveys or by tracking participation in company activities and initiatives.

  • Performance metrics: Analyse the performance of newly onboarded employees. Compare their performance metrics with employees with longer tenures. Improved performance can be a sign of effective onboarding.

  • Manager feedback: Collect feedback from managers who oversee new employees. Their insights can illuminate whether the onboarding process adequately prepares employees for their roles and responsibilities.

  • Retention interviews: Conduct retention interviews and feedback sessions with longstanding employees. Ask them about their onboarding experiences and whether it contributed to their decision to stay. Explore how the process could be improved.

The journey of employee onboarding goes far beyond paperwork and processes. It’s about fostering a sense of belonging, empowerment, and engagement. By prioritising the human side of onboarding, organisations can create memorable experiences. Not to mention engaged and productive employees. Remember, the first impressions made on new hires can leave a lasting impact, so make them positive and meaningful.

By Kate Pritchard

Kate Pritchard, Head of Consulting at People Insight and qualified leadership coach, is an employee experience expert and leadership coach with over 20 years of experience in employee research. Kate is passionate about helping organisations create workplaces where employees and performance thrive.