There has never been a more urgent time to encourage managers to be more invested and involved in new employee onboarding.
The parallels between employee engagement and high functioning organizations have been discussed ad infinitum. All the same, some organizations view the employee onboarding process much like an orientation plan.
Picture a new employee’s possible dilemma: introductions that go over the head, hurriedly set up workstations, dense welcome kits and training manuals that instill graduate school-related PTSD among millennial employees.
A staggering 20% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days. This figure is elevated among millennials, who, according to SHRM, average a little over six jobs between the ages of 18 and 25.
In our digital age, it is easier than suggested to streamline administrative processes, creating consistency while shaping the most important part of any HR process – the human connection.
The principal goal of onboarding for most companies is to minimize the time before a new employee achieves peak effectiveness, and HR leaders mustn’t ignore this.
According to the current business landscape, a hiring manager’s magic number is 90 days.
During this time, employees establish a rapport with their managers and co-workers and familiarize themselves with the company’s values.
Even the most confident employee can get overwhelmed. In fact, a lack of establishing rapport and cultural adaptation are the two leading causes of quick employee turnover.
There’s no greater impact on a new hire’s success than an invested hiring manager. They have the right instinct on the exact resources, connections, and skills the employees need.
Statistics show that managers are finally getting on board:
A report from Korn Ferry states that 98% of executives believe onboarding programs are the key to employee retention.
Similarly, 16% of the total HR managers surveyed by CareerBuilder agree that poor or non-existent onboarding lowers their company’s productivity.
Why Managers Have an Onboarding Role
Gallup found that ineffective managers account for up to 70% of the variation in employee engagement statistics.
There are three other effects related to bad managers:
- Low employee morale,
- Poor engagement, and
- Reduced productivity.
LinkedIn research indicates that systematic onboarding brings new employees up to speed 50% faster, while dramatically reducing failure rates.
In simpler terms, good managers produce happy employees.
Consider these statistics from the research team at Enboarder (2018):
- 4% of new employees leave a job after a disastrous first day.
- 41% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days after starting a job
- 22% of employees say they’d look for another job if they didn’t receive a good induction and onboarding while a further 41% admitted they might look elsewhere.
- 51% of employees say they’d go “above and beyond” if they were given a good induction and onboarding, with another 33% ‘maybe’ doing the same.
- Losing an employee in the first year of employment is estimated to cost at least three times their salary.
Managers must not bear the responsibility of poor onboarding practices on their own. A gap exists in HR practices that should also be addressed.
In many instances, employees are increasingly flung into leadership roles without enough information or guidance regarding:
- Their team role expectations
- Company culture expectations
- Managerial expectations
- Different team or departmental dynamics
- Soft skills training
Once a manager appreciates the implications of effective onboarding, their efforts will increase exponentially. This creates a positive ripple effect extending to their direct reports and the C Suite.
A deeply empathic manager should understand that even the most qualified new hire needs guidance on:
- How things operate in the company
- The overall company ethos
- Key relationships related to work success
- Cultural expectations – implied or overt
- Specific department technology and language
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Start to Finish Manager Involvement
Managers should take the lead role in the entire process of onboarding policy development and implementation.
No one is better equipped to understand team responsibilities than the manager running the department. Rather than dictating the terms of onboarding to them, HR leaders should get them actively involved.
Communicate with managers regularly and effectively. Before the new hires arrive, the managers should know everything about them.
HR’s role is to:
- Send the managers reminders about the new hires
- Create the final onboarding program and share outlines with managers
- Provide the necessary resources to the managers
- Instill confidence in the success of the program
Managers will benefit tremendously from an onboarding checklist covering the company (broadly) and its departments (specifically).
HR leaders must remember that managers are also leaders, and can get quite busy.
Their expected involvement must not be overwhelming. Rather, it should be as balanced as possible in order to best maximize their position as an empathetic coach.
In fact, the right onboarding strategy should never come with new requirements that would stretch their already limited managerial roles. Instead, it should help managers thrive in their existing roles while refining the company’s overall continuous learning experience for new employees.
Offer Manager Support and Training
From formal training sessions, intranet communications, or even a dedicated onboarding site reserved for managers, HR leaders have to give managers all the support they need to succeed.
The effective onboarding message needs to be reinforced during meetings, briefings and using refresher courses for leadership teams.
HR teams cannot claim that good employee onboarding is a corporate priority unless all managers and senior leaders can demonstrate a full understanding of:
- The onboarding strategy’s key principles,
- All associated protocols, and
- The overall purpose behind the strategy.
During training, offer managers a checklist with talking points or materials to help them onboard their new hires.
For instance, HR teams can suggest that managers use a technology tool to survey the employees in a bid to learn their communication styles.
Train each manager to take a coaching approach when working with new hires on individual goals and job direction. This communicates a culture of continuous learning and performance development.
Coaching conversations also encourage transparency between employees and their managers, making it easier to speak up without fear of repercussions.
It is also crucial to enroll managers for regular soft skills training sessions and to encourage managers to build connections with new hires.
It’s additionally beneficial for new hires to see their manager as a person, leader, and trainer. They must be able to communicate these values in a manner that endears the new hires to the company – permanently.
HR leaders should work with managers and frequently check in on new hires.
A capability baseline needs to be established before an employee arrives. It is up to the manager to participate in the pre-assessment period because the data gathered will then set the tone for the employee’s ongoing coaching.
It will also eliminate any chance of nasty surprises about a new employee’s capability.
Data gathered from continuous and digitized onboarding allows managers to make recommendations about future training activities. This includes both reinforcement and iterative assessments.
Managers can leverage the gathered data to guide future onboarding and training frameworks, championing a shift in knowledge and behavior.
Instead of a generic meeting and assessment schedule, managers should focus on employees who need the most support. This isn’t to state that managers should ignore quickly adapting or high performing employees, who can be challenged in other productive ways.
Make Onboarding Part of the Performance Plan
A great way to maximize results is to link performance with real benefits
Linking the successful completion of the onboarding process is a win-win situation because:
- It inspires a competitive spirit in managers,
- New hires get the best of their managers, and
- The company reaps the benefits of an enhanced employee experience.
Although bottom-line retention is the goal, manager burnout and disillusion should never come up. HR leaders must create room for managers to be heard.
After the conclusion of each new hire’s onboarding process, managers and HR leaders should regroup to discuss feedback from the former’s perspective.
Regular discussions on what works and what doesn’t are key to the generation of new ideas.
Whenever managers succeed in onboarding, their success stories should be loudly acknowledged and rewarded.
Incentives are a great way to keep the importance of onboarding front of mind.
A properly executed employee onboarding strategy improves employee retention by as much as 82%!
The guiding principle of effective onboarding is that it never stops. It simply sets the stage for a modern, continuous learning experience.
The manager is the most significant component of this continuous experience and must be empowered to engage early and often with new employees.
Book a demo with World Manager today to begin giving your managers the onboarding support they need.