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Onboarding: An Overlooked Process With a Large Talent Impact

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The connection between talent potential and employee value is forged in the onboarding process. The speed of the onboarding process and the candidate/employee experience can set the tone of trust for a productive relationship. For many organizations, however, the onboarding process continues to leave much room for improvement as we saw in the findings from our recent Talent Advisory Survey, the results of which are available in our new white paper, “Staying in Front: An Inside Look at the Changing Dynamics of Talent Acquisition.”

The most immediate measure of onboarding success is time-to-productivity for new employees. Hiring managers surveyed cite the average time-to-productivity is six weeks for high-performing talent functions, compared to nine weeks for other organizations. Candidate responses cite only an average three-week time-to-productivity — possibly an overestimation of their early value to the organization. With high performers achieving new hire productivity 33 percent faster than others, there is clearly room for improvement for many companies’ onboarding practices.

Seek Candidate Input to Improve Onboarding

Gathers from insights from nearly 7,000 employers and candidates about what’s working and what isn’t in today’s competitive and evolving world of talent acquisition, the survey findings indicate a general awareness of onboarding best practices among high performers and other respondents. (“High performers” are defined as those excelling in optimizing recruiting speed, quality, and cost and represent only 7.7 percent of all talent organizations.) Not surprisingly, high performers are, on average, 28 percent more likely to “always” follow most practices. In this area of talent acquisition, however, it is the difference in opinions between hiring managers and candidates that is most impressive. For example, 77 percent of hiring managers say that the employer is always organized and prepared for a new hire’s first day, compared to only 33 percent of candidates. Additionally, 77 percent of hiring managers claim that new hire IT and office resources are always ready on the first day, compared to 23 percent agreement among candidates.

Other differences among hiring managers and candidates yield improvement opportunities for a number of behaviors. Only 46 percent of candidates say they are introduced to teammates and key stakeholders in the process, and 50 percent say they always receive a tour of the facilities. Only 35 percent of candidates agree that hiring managers always provide new hires with background on the company, 30 percent say clear job expectations are always conveyed in the process, and only 25 percent say managers meet with new hires at the necessary frequency. In each of these areas, more than 70 percent of hiring managers believe these practices are “always” covered.

Every Practice Can Improve

Regarding other onboarding practices, there is much room to improve. For example, very few candidates (17 percent) and a minority of hiring managers (38 percent) say they “always” give new hires a 30-, 60-, or 90-day plan.

A similar portion of respondents reveals improvement opportunities in other areas, with hiring managers rating the following as “sometime” or “never” activities: providing a chance for social interaction (32 percent sometimes, five percent never), recognizing employees who support a new hire’s transition (36 percent sometimes, five percent never), and asking new hires to complete an onboarding survey within their first two weeks (25 percent sometimes, 51 percent never). By embracing best practices and acting on them consistently in the onboarding process, organizations can achieve compelling improvements in terms of employee productivity and talent attraction.

Impact of the Onboarding Experience

On a side note, the positive or negative impact of the onboarding experience lasts well beyond the initial weeks of the employee’s tenure. That experience can determine whether an employee stays with the company, how long she stays, and whether she encourages or discourages others from applying. What can happen?

  • An Employee Leaves the Company: 54 percent of surveyed candidates say they were somewhat or very likely to leave an organization based on a poor onboarding experience.
  • An Employee or Candidate Discourages Others from Applying: 56 percent of candidates are somewhat or very likely to discourage others from applying if the company provides a poor hiring experience.
  • An Employee or Candidate Encourages Others to Apply: 81 percent of candidate respondents claim they would encourage others to apply if the hiring experience was positive (even if the candidate did not get the position).

Don’t miss other perspectives gleaned from the report around job definition, sourcing, and screening, plus trends in artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion, and the Millennial workforce. Download your free copy of our recruitment white paper today!

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