Since the onset of COVID-19, human resource management has perhaps been more complicated than ever. Businesses around the world have been left trying to work out how to be productive when their workforce is either unable to work or having to work from home. What’s more, it’s some time before we’ll be back to ‘normal’, if we ever truly are.
You’ve probably become accustomed to that morning conference call or video conferencing meeting, but not all aspects of the regular routine translate so easily to remote working. The onboarding process, in particular, can be tricky when it’s being done remotely.
This is why it’s more important than ever before to ensure that your onboarding process is effective, and that it’s giving new starters the kind of support they need.
In measuring the effectiveness of your onboarding arrangements, you must choose the appropriate metrics. The competition for recruiting top talent is always intense. Given the uncertainty currently facing so many businesses, it’s essential that you find ways of hanging on to your most talented staff – as well as helping them meet their full potential.
But, if your onboarding process isn’t working either for your business or for the employees it hires, you’re likely to find that talented people take their skills elsewhere.
There’s not likely to be any shortage of other opportunities for employees with exceptional experience, talent, and drive. If you can’t hold on to these people when you’re lucky enough to have them, your competitors will be waiting in the wings to take advantage.
You might already think that your onboarding process is fine and that it needs no particular attention. However, for reasons we’ll go on to elaborate, this would be a very misguided perception.
Firstly, there are always improvements that can be made. Secondly, you can’t rely on your rivals being complacent. You need to be looking for areas where you can get the edge over them, because if you don’t, the chances are they will overtake you.
Whether you’re looking to develop new recruits’ sales skills or training them in how to account for inventory, the effectiveness of your onboarding process is key. In this guide, we’ll discuss in further detail why onboarding is so important and the best metrics for measuring its effectiveness. Let’s get started.
Why onboarding matters
Firstly, we need to explain in more detail why onboarding is of such vital importance. A key point here is that employees today are looking for something more than a wage at the end of the month. They’re looking for genuine fulfillment from their job. This includes the ability to learn new skills and hone those skills they already have. Training is, therefore, crucial.
Employers can’t afford to overlook this issue if they want to hold on to valued employees for the long term. But it’s also about ensuring that new recruits slot into the team as effectively (and efficiently) as possible.
When you hire a new member of staff, it’s important that they’re brought up to speed both with what’s expected of them in their new role, and also the general ethos of the business.
If your onboarding process isn’t fulfilling the function it needs to, however, it can have negative knock-on effects for your entire business. New employees who don’t know what they need to do are likely to take up more of their colleagues’ time. That prevents them from doing their own work as effectively as they otherwise would. Alternatively, new hires who don’t feel any connection to the company may simply leave.
Staff turnover can be a major problem for any business. Not only does it cause disruption and give off a feeling of uncertainty to the rest of the team, it also costs a lot of money to recruit replacements. Onboarding, then, is hugely important when it comes to maximizing productivity and minimizing costs.
Key metrics for measuring onboarding effectiveness
Now that we understand why onboarding makes such a big difference, we need to look at the yardsticks by which your business might measure its effectiveness. You need to know whether or not onboarding is doing what you need it to do. Using the relevant metrics can give you useful insights in this regard. Here are five of the best.
1. Staff turnover
As we’ve discussed, staff turnover can be a huge – and expensive – problem. If your business has noted an increase in turnover and there’s no obvious explanation for it, you need to take a closer look to see what the problem might be. A noticeable uptick in staff turnover is probably indicative of a serious issue. You can’t afford to wait around; you need to get to the bottom of it.
This is where exit interviews can be particularly useful. A lot of the time these interviews are treated as a tick-box exercise, with everyone concerned going through the motions. But exit interviews can provide genuinely useful insights. Be prepared to ask searching questions of departing employees, and to hear inconvenient responses.
Exit interviews are a great opportunity to get everything out in the open, and if a particular issue keeps coming up repeatedly, it’s clearly something you need to address.
We’ve already touched on the fact that new recruits inevitably take some time to reach full productivity. After all, they need to get accustomed to the role and find their way around. But, there are certain productivity benchmarks which they should be reaching after a certain period. If they aren’t, it could be an indication that your onboarding process is unsatisfactory.
Your team leaders should be keeping a watchful eye on new recruits to see how they’re settling in. They’ll be able to report back if there are any indications that they’re struggling. You can also use analytical tools to monitor their performance and ensure they’re meeting whatever goals you set for them (though these must be reasonable).
It’s also important to ensure that new recruits have all the tools they need to be productive, such as an all-in-one desktop app. Some firms make digital handbooks to introduce people to the business and provide them with pointers about which tools they should be using and how. It could be a good idea for you to do the same.
3. Employee satisfaction
It’s important to keep tabs on employee happiness and satisfaction. Remember what we said before; employees want more from their job than a salary. They’re also looking for a sense of fulfillment and of providing something that’s genuinely useful. In other words, real job satisfaction.
There are various ways you can measure this. You can send out periodic employee satisfaction surveys to ask staff how they feel about the work they do. Ask new recruits what they make of their job (and the onboarding process) after the first few months of doing it. You should also ask them how they’ve settled into the team. If they’ve struggled in this regard, there may be an issue with team layout or communication that needs to be addressed.
4. Monitor who’s departing
Staff turnover in general is bad for business, but it can be particularly damaging when certain members leave the team. Some departures have a bigger impact and cause more problems than others. If you’re losing employees who perform an especially valuable role in the team, you need to understand the root causes and tackle them without delay.
If recent hires are leaving, that’s probably an indication that there’s something wrong with the onboarding process. We’ve talked about the usefulness of exit interviews in uncovering onboarding issues (as well as other issues, including cultural ones). If a recent recruit chooses to move on, take heed of their reasons and act on them where appropriate.
5. Survey team leaders
It’s always important to keep abreast of what team leaders are thinking, and any issues they might be experiencing. If one team is losing members at a faster rate than others, that probably suggests there’s an issue with that particular team. It might be the team leader themselves who’s at fault, but it may alternatively be something else. The workload that’s been allocated to them, for example.
Fostering team spirit is vitally important, and first impressions are crucial. If there’s a personality clash, or a failure of communication, the onboarding process may be a non-starter. Likewise, building trust with remote employees is vital, and poses unique challenges.
If one team is losing staff while others are hanging on to them for longer, it’s worth investigating the differences between them. Speak to your team leaders about their relationships with their colleagues (especially new hires) and how they’re handling the work they’ve been tasked with.
Look at what the more successful ones are doing compared to the less successful. This could help you assess the effectiveness of your onboarding process as a whole.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s certainly been the case in recent months. COVID-19 and the shift to remote work has forced businesses to make big changes to the way they operate. Often simply to maintain some semblance of normality.
Workers have also had to adapt, making full use of all their best time management techniques to help them get used to the new situation.