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The Link Between Employee Engagement and Onboarding

How effective is your onboarding? Chances are that the answer is a resounding “meh”: 40% of organizations say their onboarding is either not at all effective or only slightly so, 33% say it’s moderately effective, and only 27% say it’s very effective. This lack of effectiveness is doubly troubling when we consider that onboarding is one of the most important aspects of the employee lifecycle — after all, what’s more important than teaching your workers how to perform the job they were hired for?

Engagement Counts

Mediocre onboarding kills your new hires’ engagement. Given that companies with engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by up to 202%, it seems fair to say that engagement is one of the most important things a new hire can bring to the table. Your priority in onboarding should be making sure all of your employees know what their role is, what they’ll be doing to fill that role, and how they’ll be doing it.

Many employers already know that engagement and productivity are important, and that the onboarding process can help boost these things. According a survey from SilkRoad, 39% of companies say their main goal in onboarding new employees is getting them in a productive state ASAP, while 31% want better employee engagement (interestingly, only 3% want to reduce the costs and burdens of the process itself).

If employers agree with HR that onboarding should focus on productivity and engagement, then why is the answer to “How’s your onboarding,” a resounding “meh”? Probably because there are so many barriers to effective and engaging onboarding: according to the SilkRoad survey, the biggest barriers to better onboarding are time constraints (cited by 35% of respondents), lack of ownership of the process (21%), lack of a formal onboarding process (17%), and lack of budget (13%).

The Issue of Structure

It’s not so much that HR doesn’t have the resources to make onboarding better; rather, it’s that the department often doesn’t feel like it has the power to do so, whether that’s because the department doesn’t have the time, or because it doesn’t feel like it can make headway in revitalizing the process, or even because HR doesn’t have a grasp of what the process truly is. Indeed, problems with hiring are terribly pervasive: 64% of banks report lost deals and revenue caused by problems with onboarding, and 20% of banks also report they’re losing 26-50% of their business opportunities as a result.

As a result of onboarding problems, candidates often get the impression that no one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to onboarding. Forty-four percent of employees report not seeing any kind of structure during onboarding, and 23% of employees feel misled by the interview process (even those that end up making it into the company!). Most employees don’t learn their proper career path during the interview, their onboarding, or their performance reviews — 29% don’t even learn what their specific job is during their orientation!

When HR fumbles these new hire duties, it leads to confusion: 43% of candidates report having disorienting or confusing first days on the job. The result of all this confusion is lower employee engagement and an increased turnover rate: 77% of new hires make the decision to stay or leave during their first six months at a new job, and 22% of them don’t return after the first 45 days.

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