Every stage of the recruitment process is critical but none more so than onboarding. Whilst an organisation ensures their recruitment process effectively reflects their business to turn a job offer into an acceptance, the onboarding process is when a candidate officially becomes an employee. Will they feel that the employer brand is authentic from what was portrayed externally? Will they have the same touchpoints that guided them through the recruitment process to keep them excited and engaged? We have been talking to our clients about their onboarding strategy and wanted to share our interesting insights and the current trends we are seeing in the onboarding space.  

A growing awareness of the importance of investing in onboarding 

Nearly a third of the companies we talked to were introducing a new onboarding strategy, technology or personnel. From hiring a global onboarding manager, to introducing new onboarding platforms, there was an increased awareness of the importance of this part of an employee’s journey, and the role it can play in driving down attrition rates, both post-acceptance, and in the first 90 days of employment. Whilst a minority of companies did not see onboarding as a priority, several acknowledged that their lack of a strong, engaging onboarding experience was costing them candidates. 

When does onboarding begin? The integration of candidate and new starter experience 

Where does the candidate experience end and onboarding begin? And wouldn’t it deliver a better experience and higher engagement for new starters if the two processes were better integrated?      One e-commerce company is championing this strategy, by establishing a candidate experience team to work in close partnership with their onboarding team, particularly in the ‘pre-boarding’ period between acceptance and day one. 

The objective is to allow candidates to move seamlessly through their journey from applicant to new starter. The new team will triage questions from candidates, who will be able to get in touch with one designated contact at any time, to receive timely answers to queries and receive pre-screening and interview preparation support. This contact will continue after offer and acceptance as the new hire moves into the pre-start-date section of the onboarding time period, with everything from a box of goodies to an announcement on LinkedIn to welcome them, before moving into a structured two-week onboarding programme upon arrival. Such integration could potentially reap big dividends, by speeding up start date times, building a strong sense of belonging and engagement, and reducing drop-outs. This integrated approach also facilitates collecting key data, that can show where candidates and new starters are being lost – to help further evolve the candidate and onboarding experience. 

Who is receiving a good onboarding experience? 

There was a strong awareness that lack of consistency in onboarding processes across countries, departments and job types was an issue. Some firms had strong processes for more senior staff, but little in place for volume roles, where attrition is a particular problem. One company had a separate process for those relocating from one country to another. Having outsourced the entire process, from the procurement of visas to support in finding accommodation, they felt that this cohort of their new starters were receiving a more positive experience, due to structured, focused support from one point of contact.  

Who is responsible for onboarding? Delivering clarity and consistency 

Defining how onboarding responsibilities should be shared between talent attraction, HR teams and hiring managers was also seen as vital – as was clearly disseminating this information so that everyone understood their role. Some saw HR as primarily responsible for the onboarding process, and others hiring managers, but the majority saw this as a shared endeavour – making clear processes and strong internal communication of those processes essential.  

Increasing use of onboarding technology 

Increasingly, businesses are turning to technology to deliver a consistent onboarding experience that can provide regular, structured contact and information to new starters, both before they join and after day one. Platforms such as Enboarder are proving a useful way to deliver a continual communication stream and consistent new hire experience, without using high levels of resource in terms of HR or line manager time. Due to hybrid and remote working on the rise, they can be particularly effective, balancing connection and compliance effectively. Such platforms can also provide an invaluable internal resource, ensuring that HR can monitor and assess the effectiveness of the onboarding process, and that hiring managers have the structure, clear guidance and support they need to deliver successful onboarding.  

Ensuring the human touch isn’t lost  

With the rise of digital platforms, and virtual onboarding, there is an awareness that steps need to be taken to ensure that one-to-one human connections aren’t lost. Ambassador and buddy programmes, cultural champions and mentoring by a senior manager were common solutions to driving social integration - although these often began after the start date, resulting in a fallow period between acceptance and offer when there was little one to one contact. One company that was an exception to this rule asked all candidates to come into the office to sign their contract and meet the hiring manager in the process. A direct personal welcome from a line manager on day one was seen as a must by the majority of companies, too. 

Linking new starters to networks throughout the business was seen as key by several participants, with one chemicals company placing particular emphasis on human connections. As well as giving each new starter a fixed point of contact from acceptance to start, a team of ambassadors from different parts of the business was also mobilised to drive introductions to a range of social activities.  

To discover more about how Cielo can help you build an onboarding process that builds engagement, reduces attrition and drives productivity from day one contact us.