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3 Unique Ideas to Improve Your Employee Onboarding Experience

June 23, 2024

If your company is like most, you’ve seen an unprecedented number of people come and go over the past year. When all is said and done, total employee turnover in 2022 may jump 20% above pre-pandemic averages, Gartner says.

For every person that leaves your organization, someone must take their place. One of the keys to preventing further turnover is making sure these new hires stick around.

It’s easier said than done. According to an oft-cited 2019 survey (conducted before the pandemic and the “Great Resignation”), about a third of new employees leave their jobs within the first three months.

Those crucial first few months of employment go by another name among HR professionals: onboarding.

A positive onboarding experience can help new hires become comfortable, satisfied, and engaged with their work. A negative experience can leave them feeling disoriented and misled — and make new employees wonder whether taking the job was a mistake.

Considering the average employer spends $4,000 and 24 days hiring each new employee, you really do want your new workers to be in it for the long haul. Here are some innovative ways to improve your organization’s onboarding experience to boost employee retention:

1. Launch an Onboarding Microsite

Think back to your time as a new employee. You had so many questions, from the best local spots to get lunch to how your new benefits worked.

Over time, you figured everything out. But imagine how much time and consternation you could have saved if you had had a single place to find all your answers.

That’s exactly what an onboarding microsite provides: a one-stop source where new hires can find all the information they need to get acclimated quickly.

One of the best examples of an onboarding microsite comes from HubSpot, a marketing technology firm routinely ranked among the best places to work in America.

HubSpot’s onboarding microsite is “filled with resources, guides and answers to frequently asked questions” aimed at helping employees prepare for their first day. The resources include:

  • A first-day onboarding schedule
  • Information about mental health resources and benefits
  • A video describing the company’s culture code
  •  Details about the technology and software HubSpotters use to collaborate and get work done
  • Lists of pre-arrival tasks for American and international employees
  • A Spotify playlist designed to “ease your first day jitters”

Critically, HubSpot’s onboarding microsite provides resources for in-person and remote workers, as well as those who follow a hybrid schedule. It’s important to remember that new remote employees may feel just as ungrounded — if not more so — as their in-person counterparts.

Building a lightweight, easy-to-navigate onboarding portal is simple with Flimp’s microsite tools. Microsites also serve as great benefits showcases for all your employees and can even replace the traditional benefits fair.

2. Assign Onboarding ‘Buddies’ or Mentors

Starting a new job can often feel like transferring to a new school. You feel a few steps behind the people who started before you. But when someone steps up to show you the ropes, that feeling of being the new kid in class quickly fades away.

The connections colleagues form with each other come less naturally in remote or hybrid working arrangements. It’s not like they’re going to meet up in the hallway or the break room. That’s why some employers are formalizing the process of building relationships at work by assigning onboarding “buddies” or mentors.

The role of onboarding buddy can vary, but generally, a buddy’s responsibilities include:

  • Serving as the go-to person for any questions the new hire may have
  • Checking in with the new hire periodically over the first few weeks of service
  • Introducing the new hire to the rest of the team

If the team works remotely, this can be done over your chat app of choice.

(It’s especially important for the buddy to introduce the new hire to any “fun” chat rooms employees have set up for sharing jokes, memes, and personal anecdotes. A sense of belonging at work isn’t just about working together, after all.)

3. Create a Pre-Boarding Protocol

Throughout the period between accepting a job offer and starting work, many new hires are consumed by one question: What will my first day be like?

The well-planned release of “pre-boarding” materials can help anxious new employees hit the ground running — which is beneficial for your company because it means they can start being productive sooner.

Pre-boarding material can include much of the same information that might be included on your onboarding microsite, such as a schedule for the first day, a chart of the company’s hierarchy, video introductions from supervisors and colleagues, and a run-down of benefit options. The pre-boarding period is also an excellent time to get administrative paperwork out of the way so that employees can focus on learning their tasks and responsibilities on the first day.

(You can send pre-boarding content by email, but for maximum engagement, you might want to try a more visually-appealing format like digital postcards.)

Better Retention Through Better Onboarding

In the workplace, as in many other facets of life, starting off on the right foot is key to long-term sustainability. Innovative approaches to onboarding — such as the three discussed in this article — will help ensure your newest employees remain engaged and effective at your organization for years to come.

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