Don’t Let Them Get Away: Tips for Successful Employee Onboarding

Your job as a recruiter does not end after hiring a new employee. Discover advice from two HR association professionals on how to successfully integrate new hires into your organization.

Once you’ve mastered the skills of successful job-candidate interviewing and recruited the right fit for your organization, you may wipe your brow in relief thinking the hiring process is finally over.

Onboarding effectively is the crux of recruitment. It’s the final pinhead.

But it doesn’t end there, according to Deborah White, vice president, HR and administration at the American Public Power Association, and Dennis Sawyers, senior HR consultant with Nonprofit HR Solutions.

You want to make sure that ideal candidate is effectively integrated into the organization so that they understand the business, the culture, the values, and the job expectations, Sawyers said during a session he co-presented with White at the ASAE Finance, HR & Business Operations Conference. “It’s all of the pieces that allow [that person] to be a valuable part of driving a business.”

According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management [PDF], about 50 percent of hourly workers quit within the first four months of being hired, while half of senior-level hires resign within the first 18 months of taking a new position.

Successful onboarding can help cut back on those numbers as well as the costs of turnover.

“Onboarding effectively is the crux of recruitment,” White said. “It’s the final pinhead.”

What does a successful integration process look like? For different organizations and for different positions the process will vary, but a systematic approach to onboarding is key.

To help keep your program systematic, White and Sawyers pointed out several components to address:

  • Connection. Help new hires develop interpersonal relationships with coworkers and managers.
  • Culture. Explain the culture and values of your organization so new hires are aware of organizational norms. For example, how does the work get done at this organization? Is it an open, transparent workplace? What is the dress code?
  • Clarification. Clearly explain job expectations and the duties new employees are responsible for managing.
  • Compliance. Make sure new hires fill out the appropriate paperwork and forms.

Taking these components, proposed by Portland State University Professor Talya Bauer in the whitepaper “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success,” into consideration, you can tailor your onboarding program to fit your organization’s culture and a variety of different positions.

“Depending on generational aspects, geographical aspects—whether they’re teleworkers or an in-office employees—you’re going to have to manage your onboarding process and temper it to your different kinds of employees,” White said.

One session attendee volunteered that, at her organization, she’s found success in organizing orientations and onboarding by generation. So, for example, a millennial new hire would be introduced to coworkers and acclimated to the association’s culture by another millennial staffer.

Interdepartmental introductions were common practice among session attendees. Although one person recommended waiting up to six months before taking new employees around to meet everyone: “When they first start, it’s so much information that they can’t digest it all, and we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about waiting and doing it after some time that they’ve been there.”

Someone else suggested gathering feedback from new employees and their managers after the 90-day mark to assess how the onboarding process is going. Just make sure that they read each other’s surveys and are encouraged to talk about them with each other, she added.

What successful onboarding techniques have you implemented at your association?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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