Start-ups need to start taking employee onboarding seriously… because new recruits aren’t afraid to leave. High employee turnover is not only costly — both in time and money — but also damaging for company culture, especially in early days when your team is still small.
At digital product agency ITR8, we are constantly optimising the User Experience to ensure that every team member has a positive start to their career with us.
We imagine the hiring process as a User Experience:
Remember when you were job hunting? Remember all the tricky interviews you had to endure until you finally landed a job that was good (enough)?
If you want to be a good recruiter, start by putting yourself in your candidate’s shoes.
Be aware of different needs — for example, that tech talent will have other priorities to those of community managers. Start finding out what really matters. Do they prefer Skype chats to in-person interviews? Would they value spending a day in the office to get a feel for company culture? Give them a great hiring experience and they will give back.
Ready to get them on board?
The onboarding process should start well before the candidate’s first day.
Onboarding should form part of the hiring process as a whole. Once you have made the hiring decision, whether it be for a freelancer or a full-time employee, stay in touch with them! Sometimes there can be weeks delay from their hiring to their start date, so keep them updated and get them excited to join the team.
At ITR8 we have developed a short employee guide for new starters. It includes useful information about our vision, our values and way of working. We provide this in advance so employees have time to familiarise themselves with our company before they join the team.
Onboarding should also be a two-way process. A nice way to get to know your future employees before their first day is to invite them to a team off-site or event. A more casual environment allows everyone to relax.
The first day.
Be prepared! This kind of advice helps with daily life, but it is also crucial for attracting and retaining talent.
Set up their workspace with a welcome pack! Include everything they will need plus a few fun things.
Appoint one or two team members to also be responsible for a proper onboarding. Don’t overload them with too much information, but try to invite them to a meeting or team lunch, so they feel included from day one.
The first week.
Book meetings during the employee’s first week to teach them about the company basics and their role within the team.
Ensure the entire team is involved in the onboarding, and make it clear you will be available for the next few weeks (or months if needed) to answer any questions that they will have.
We strive to have a very transparent feedback culture, and use the onboarding meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page about the new employee’s role and responsibilities. If anyone is unsure or unsatisfied, we have open discussions to find out how we can improve things.
Within the first month, we establish a personal and professional development program for each employee.
We hold quarterly meetings to establish goals and create an action plan to meet them, based on what we can offer as a company and what knowledge or skills the employee wants to develop.
We even have retrospective workshops to discuss improvements for how we work as a team, and one of the things we do is to find out about the individual onboarding experience. We then use this feedback to improve our HR processes.
Having this kind of holistic approach to onboarding is important to attract and retain talented team members. And once they’re happily aboard, they’re less likely to jump ship at the next passing opportunity.