Optimise Employee Onboarding: 3 Strategies for Businesses

woman smiling at her laptop in office environment

Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into a company, and is an often underestimated but critical aspect of HR, solidifying culture and business success. Much more than paperwork and orientation; onboarding people properly into your business is about setting the stage for a positive and productive journey for both the employee and the organisation.

Whether you’re ushering in a fresh cohort of recent graduates through your Graduate scheme or expanding your tech team with a group of software engineers, it’s essential to understand the significance of onboarding. Let’s delve into why it matters and explore three approaches that could help your business optimise employee onboarding.

Why onboarding matters: The numbers

The statistics on the importance of onboarding to organisations are compelling. On average, it costs a little over £1,300 to onboard a new hire, which on top of potential recruitment fees may start to feel like a considerable investment. However, this cost pales in comparison to the benefits it can yield. Organisations with strong onboarding processes increase new hire retention by a staggering 82%. This is not just about retaining talent; it’s also about boosting productivity. Companies with effective onboarding programmes report a 70% improvement in new hire productivity. The numbers don’t lie – investing in onboarding pays off.

From the employees’ perspective, a structured onboarding programme is much more than just reading the company handbook. It’s an experience that can significantly impact their career trajectory. Studies show that employees who attend a structured orientation programme are 69% more likely to remain at the company for at least three years – longevity that benefits everyone involved. 

So, how do you go about implementing a great onboarding experience?

Three innovative ways to optimise employee onboarding

1. Support and feedback through mentorship programmes:

Businesses leading the way in onboarding recognise the value of pairing new employees or graduates with experienced mentors from day one. This simple but effective initiative builds a culture of support, encourages timely knowledge transfer, and builds a forum for regular feedback and transparent communication.

Mentorship and guidance helps newcomers navigate the corporate landscape, open up about challenges in a more vulnerable way – sometimes more easily achieved than with a direct line manager. The proof is in the numbers – with 90% of employees who have a mentor describing themselves as satisfied at work.

This type of initiative can be particularly important in a hybrid or fully-remote role which may leave newcomers feeling isolated. We’ve seen the impact of this at Northcoders Business Solutions. Whether we’re running a Tailor-made Academy for KPMG’s new graduates, or providing a team of coders on a 12-month consultancy basis through Incubate – mentors are a vital aspect of our success. Junior engineers are provided with a mentor to feedback on their code, hold regular check-ins, support with pastoral needs or simply spend time working on a challenge that’s proving tricky to solve. The impact on learners is huge, providing them with a safe space to hash things out, ask open questions and remove blockers quickly and effectively. 

Intel’s approach to Mentorship: 

Intel’s mentorship initiative places a strong emphasis on knowledge exchange rather than hierarchical seniority. More precisely, the company champions a dynamic peer-to-peer mentoring approach, empowering individuals to proactively shape their mentorship connections and engage with a diverse spectrum of colleagues. 

2. Methods of engagement: Gamification and e-Learning

It’s time to move beyond dull presentations on policy and overwhelming paperwork. Unfortunately, 58% of organisations focus their onboarding experience mostly on those two things. Instead, optimise employee onboarding and accurately represent your culture through gamification and e-learning modules to make onboarding engaging and interactive.

One focus could be to build collaborative exercises between new hires. Not only does this ensure you don’t leave employees isolated, it’s a great way to also foster greater social integration and trust among new groups. Consider assembling new hires into teams and encouraging them to work together to tackle challenges relevant to their roles. We’ve certainly seen the positive impact of this on the Northcoders Bootcamp through pair programming and group projects.

Deloitte’s approach to gamification:

A great example of onboarding gamification is the “Deloitte Leadership Academy” – a system used to onboard and train employees. It included gamified elements like leaderboards, badges, and interactive courses to engage new hires and enhance their learning experience. 

3. Demonstrate a continuous learning culture

87% of millennials believe learning and development in the workplace is important. Businesses will lose out on top talent if they ignore this desire to learn, so if it’s within your culture, ensure you introduce it on day one so that new starters will feel they’re in the right place to develop.  

A continuous learning culture instils adaptability within the workforce, particularly in rapidly moving industries such as tech. New employees entering an environment where learning is constant are more likely to embrace change and innovation, which can significantly benefit the company’s agility and competitiveness.

By fostering a learning-centric environment, businesses can expedite the time it takes for employees to become productive contributors, positively impacting the bottom line.

Northcoders’s Business Solutions approach to continuous learning:

We’ve seen this theory delivered in practice as part of our Skills Bootcamps for Businesses, an initiative which teaches employees the programming language of JavaScript from day one. JavaScript has a gentle learning curve, it can be used in both the frontend and the backend and it has comprehensive documentation which once learners understand how to decipher, they can apply this practice to other documentation. 

During the Project Phase of the bootcamp, where learners build an application in teams, we ask them to use two technologies not learnt on the Bootcamp. This ensures we embed a culture of learning and adaptability from the outset. We see many learners go really far afield with this challenge, pushing beyond their comfort zones to expand their coding knowledge.

Onboarding Beyond Profit: Nurturing a thriving and loyal workforce

A great onboarding programme doesn’t just benefit the bottom line; it cultivates a thriving, engaged, and loyal workforce. By adopting innovative approaches such as personalised mentorship programmes, gamification and e-learning and a continuous learning culture, you can create the best onboarding experience that sets the stage for long-term success. 

If your business is looking for support to optimise employee onboarding for your new tech teams, get in touch about our Skills Bootcamps for Businesses today, and take full advantage of up to 90% funding from the Department for Education. 

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