How good onboarding can save your company more than money

“A company is only as good as its employees” goes the old adage – but sometimes, failing to properly integrate new hires into your business can be ruinous to its health.

This is one of the findings of a recent survey of SMEs carried out by Cezanne HR. According to the firm’s study, poor selection and onboarding practices are costing UK SMEs millions in recruitment and employer brand value terms.

According to the research, a third of SME office workers say they did not start a job despite accepting an initial offer, rising to 41 per cent at organisations with 250 or more employees, thanks to poor contact from the company.

Once they start, 42 per cent said that they quit their job within six months. Of these, a third said it was because they “did not feel welcome”, while 18 per cent did not like the corporate culture or their new boss. Some 56 per cent said the new role was just not what they were expecting.

“If companies can engage and enthuse employees before they start, they are much more likely to fit in faster and a lot less likely to be tempted by a higher offer elsewhere – money is rarely the only motivator,” says Sue Lingard, director at Cezanne.

“It’s not enough to simply make the offer and wait for them to turn up on day one. Chances are they might not and then you are back to an expensive square one.”

On the surface, this may seem obvious: new hires can represent both a significant financial outlay and can be risky. No matter how good your recruiter, how water-tight your interview technique is, or how well you can determine the veracity of someone’s CV, a lack of good onboarding practices can hamstring your business performance.

But how can you, as a business buyer or someone trying to grow a newly-acquired organisation, make the most of it? Here are a few tips for making sure your new hires become a valuable asset as soon as possible:

Make orientation simple – but interesting

Consider the whole process from your new employee’s perspective, and consider how to make the new role seem fun, interesting and painless, as well as making them feel valued, wanted and excited. One easy way is to give employees material such as schedules, codes of conduct and an FAQ available in advance. Consider writing some more “friendly” content, like a “who’s who?” of the office with photos and fun facts of your existing staff.

Try to steer clear of paperwork

According to the study, 69 per cent of new hires cite their first day experience as the biggest impact on their decision to stay beyond probation. So tone down the day-one paperwork as much as possible! Some things can wait a few days while they get settled in, others may only require their signature and understanding, so don’t bury them in A4. Sticking to online documents or resources can also help with this.

Socialising – more than just good fun

Getting an existing employee or team to buddy up with a new hire is a great way to introduce them to the corporate culture and educate the newbie on the inner workings of the company. Consider going out for a meal, hosting a pub quiz-style event or even something out of the ordinary to promote teambuilding.

Get feedback

As pointed out above, you still need to “sell” your company to new employees, and engaging them about your organisation can be akin to how you engage your customers. Check in with new hires regularly about the positives and negatives of their experience and follow up on anything that needs it. Don’t rely on that quarterly or annual review to make sure things are going well.