IT companies are known for a very high turnover rate (13,2 % according to the LinkedIn report) because of high competition in the industry. Most of them try to prevent their employees from leaving by offering various benefits. Private health care, flexible working hours, sport, or educational subscriptions - these are just the basics. 

 

onboarding plan

 

In Railwaymen the turnover is less than 5%, nevertheless, we want to keep on improving our recruitment and onboarding processes to make sure we hire the best professionals in the industry! 

According to the SHRM, candidates are very grateful if the future employer is explicit about the terms of the cooperation and shows a positive attitude since the first time getting in touch. That helps them to make a decision of choosing the right company and starting a long-lasting collaboration.

Below find this article table of content, to easily access the part that interests you the most:

  1.  How do I remember my own Onboarding Process?
  2. What is the onboarding process?
  3. How long does the onboarding take?
  4. How do you develop a whole onboarding plan step by step?
    Step 1. Set up an onboarding team
    Step 2. Analyzing current onboarding process
    Step 3. Determine your company goals
    Step 4. Conducting research among your employees
    Step 5. Choose the form of the onboarding process
    Step 6. Creating the content
    Step 7. Testing it out
    Step 8. Implementing
    Step 9. Improving, improving, improving
  5. How to prepare an effective onboarding checklist?
  6. How to know what should both lists include?
  7. How to improve the onboarding process?
  8. Conclusion

 

How do I remember my own Onboarding Process?

 

Before my first day in Railwaymen, I was very excited to take up a new challenge but I was a bit concerned about the atmosphere in the company and the scope of my responsibilities. The fear of new affects almost all of us. It’s good to remember that the support from people responsible for the onboarding could be very helpful for the new hire, who is probably a little anxious in the beginning.

Fortunately, on my first day, I was warmly welcomed and after signing the necessary documents I was introduced to the company culture, history and achievements. Then, I was walked through my responsibilities. I personally found the presentation interesting, it gave me an idea of how Railwaymen operates and what is expected from me. 

Later I was invited to the meeting regarding the planning of the onboarding process. I very much appreciated the fact that I could start contributing from day one and therefore I didn’t have a feeling of wasting time. Being new in the company gave me the advantage of a fresh perspective. I could support the team by noticing the aspects that could be improved and suggesting the elements that I found missing and that could upgrade the onboarding process.

What helped me, in the beginning, were the tasks planned in Kanban boards in Trello. I knew exactly what I should focus on and what is a priority. I also learned how to plan my work for the whole week, not just for the next day, so I could stay organized and productive.

While choosing my future workplace I paid attention to the way the company approaches me during the recruitment process, especially the way they contacted me (friendly, informative), the time it took them to answer my emails (hours or days), and the transparency - what they expected from me, what would be my role in the company and what they could offer in terms of development, remuneration, and benefits.

 

What is the onboarding process?

 

Onboarding is a particularly significant undertaking, some would say, even more important than the recruitment process itself. But unfortunately - often disregarded. If it is properly conducted it helps new employees get accustomed to the new situation and start to work efficiently much quicker.

The process of onboarding helps newcomers understand how the company works, what are the rules, objectives, and introduce them to the key players in the company. They are thoroughly explained what is their role in the company and what are their responsibilities. It helps them successfully integrate into the company and start their work faster as they know what they should do, and are provided all the help they need. 

Being welcoming and taking good care of a newbie from day one can greatly increase employee loyalty. It also reduces the stress associated with getting accustomed to the new place and people, improves the performance and overall job satisfaction, therefore, prevents a newcomer from wanting to quit. 

Why is it so important? Hiring a new employee can be very expensive, according to Glassdoor, employers in the USA would spend $4000 on average to hire one new employee. The more complex the position, the higher the cost. This is due to the long training that can last weeks, even months. Hence employers should carefully consider the applications and try their best to keep the new hires in the company. Good onboarding can save you a lot of money. The old employee is already familiar with the responsibilities and doesn’t need to go through the recruitment and onboarding processes as the new one would.

 

How long does the onboarding take?

 

Employers endeavor to shorten the time of learning that a new employee has to go through to do their job correctly. This is not the best approach to the topic as untrained employees thrown into the deep water can make more harm than good. First of all, it will probably take more time for the older employees to correct the mistakes, than if it would if they do it themselves in the first place. And second of all, new employees can feel lost and overwhelmed which is what you want to avoid. 

 

Railwaymen 2019 Employer Branding Video

 

The time dedicated to the onboarding of a newcomer will vary depending on the complexity of the work in a given position, experience from the previous workplaces, and the industry. According to Aberdeen (...)companies with programs that last a month or less being 9% less likely to keep first-year employees than those with longer processes(...) 

In some enterprises, the onboarding lasts only a few days. It is certainly not enough for the new hire to get used to the new environment and become fully independent. Generally speaking, a three to six-months period is a time in which a new employee should reach his/her optimal efficiency and reduce the time s/he spends on learning. As stated in the article, 90% of the employees decide if they want to stay in the company during this initial period of 6 months. That is why taking particular care of new employees is crucial to decrease the retention rate. 

Nevertheless, it may happen that during the initial period the employee will change his/her position and that would elongate the process. By creating a good onboarding process we can minimize the time the new hire would spend on searching for how things work in the company or where to find the information that s/he needs.

 

How do you develop a whole onboarding plan step by step?

 

iwona walczak-1While working in Railwaymen, I introduced a large number of new employees to the company's structure. I noticed that It was difficult to gather and provide all the needed information and fully prepare the newcomer to take up duties.In the meantime, there were many questions from new employees which caused a lot of inaccuracies.

This is why we decided to prepare a comprehensive onboarding process. Thanks to our UX/UI Specialists, we've created a step-by-step process of introducing a new employee to the company's structure, culture, and scope of work.

Iwona, HR & Onboarding team Manager

Here I will introduce you to the 9 necessary steps to plan the onboarding process the right way.

 

Step 1. Set up an onboarding team

 

Setting up a team that would be responsible for researching how the process should look like and later, for planning and conducting it, is necessary. Unless your company is really small you probably already have people taking care of new employees. The essential thing here is to connect them and let them work together on analyzing the previous set of actions taken while hiring a new person, then brainstorming and creating a new process after careful consideration. 


Step 2. Analyzing current onboarding process

 

The starting point of improving onboarding should be examining what you already have. 

  • Notice how the process looks like now. 
  • Try to collect insights about the current process from different points of view: Team Leaders, new employees, HR managers, etc.
  • Find bottlenecks, deadlocks, and pain points and acknowledge the issues they bring to the procedure. 

Step 3. Determine your company goals

 

To start creating such a plan you need to determine your company goals. What do you expect to achieve by conducting onboarding? The outcomes employers usually strive for:

  • Faster adjusting of the new employee to the company
  • Improved workflow
  • Improved information flow
  • The feeling of the emotional bond between a person and the company 
  • Establishing a clear career path
  • Reducing turnover rate

 

Step 4. Conducting research among your employees

 

To gain the most reliable information about the needs of your employees you should turn to… you guessed it - your employees! All the necessary information is already in your company, so the role of the onboarding team is to extract it, analyze it, and use it while creating the plan. You can do it by creating a survey in which you would ask about the experience of being newly hired in your company, about the things your employees would appreciate to change, and the things they like about the company.

Who are the people usually working at the Software House and what are their responsibilities? 

 

You can read more about it in the article here!

 

Another way to do it is to interview people ‘higher on the ladder’ such as Team Leaders, Project Managers, etc. and ask about the issues new employees approach them with most often, which aspects of which positions are harder to understand or take more time to learn, and if there is something that would make the onboarding easier for both sides.

It would be very useful for you to consult with your latest hires as their experience is the freshest and they can remember many details, you would never think of. Don’t forget to approach them in a friendly way, so they know they can tell you directly what wasn’t working for them, what needs improvement, etc. 

Few words from our UX/UI designer, who was highly engaged in designing our company Onboarding Process:

 

PatrykDesigning the process of onboarding was a very interesting experience for me. I started working at Railwaymen 2 years ago, and I could observe and analyze my own onboarding process. I think the crucial part of the research were the interviews with newcomers. Through them, I was able to learn which elements of the current onboarding process were designed in a satisfying way and which needed improvement or were completely forgotten. 

We automated the process by creating a pre-designed list of actions to take by new hires during the first day. We customized the tasks on the list by creating one set for each department and position. That aim of that was to reduce the time people responsible will spend to onboard new hire and to standardize the procedure. This way all new employees would learn from the thought-through source, created by a team instead of learning from one person only.

I hope we created a well-designed process through which new employees would be able to get to know their colleagues and familiarize themselves with the tools and responsibilities step by step, in the most efficient and enjoyable way.’

Patryk, UX/UI Designer, Member of the Onboarding Team

 

Step 5. Choose the form of the onboarding process

 

At this point, you should decide what form of onboarding you would like to go for. Would it be an online set of courses, creating a list of tasks with attached documents to read and activities to do, or a presentation and designated employee to guide the new hire?

Your decision should be based on the data you collected during the research and the way the onboarding looks like. It is important to notice which form of the process would be best suited for your company and will bring the most valuable outcome.

We chose the second option as it reduced the time our older employees would spend on onboarding and allows the new employees to learn at the most appropriate pace for them, therefore increasing the chance of understanding and remembering the content of the documents.

 

Step 6. Creating the content

 

After conducting research and analyzing it, it’s time to apply it. Designing the content of the onboarding process will take a lot of time. It has to be created from the point of view of the new employee, so things that are self-explanatory for you, would need to be broken down and thoroughly explained. Visuals might be very helpful, so if you have resources you can use it for producing animations or infographics. It is guaranteed that your new employees would remember the content better than if it was passed as an overwhelmingly huge pile of black and white documents.

 

Screen from our Railwaymen Vademecum showing used visuals

 

Step 7. Testing it out

 

The content is ready, now it’s high time to check if it’s working the way you intended it to. Designate a group of people that would check the content one more time. They shouldn’t be a part of the onboarding team, so they have a fresh perspective. Consider their suggestions, do the adjustments and you’re ready to go!

 

Step 8. Implementing 

 

Now the fun part. You’re anticipating a new hire - and you can finally try out the outcome of the weeks or months of your work. Remember that each of the new employees will be very valuable to you. You should observe the flow of the process and diligently collect feedback. 

 

Step 9. Improving, improving, improving 

 

Your company is changing all the time, and the way of onboarding new employees should too. The process needs to evolve. Set the time when you would like to make an upgrade. Depending on your company it can be done quarterly or even twice a year. During the first months of implementing the new process collect all the data that need to be added or amended in one place. When the time comes, dedicate time to adjust the process and repeat it when needed. 

Such action will greatly influence the way new employees would feel about your company. The questions they want to ask will be already answered. The first days won’t be as stressful if tools, rules, and responsibilities will be explained in a clear way. Upgraded information would also look professional and would show your respect for new employees. Nobody likes to read outdated information, especially if it is essential for work.



A screenshot from our own open source HR tool Evally which helps us to manage our employees evaluations.

 

How to prepare an effective onboarding checklist?

 

The first day at work sounds stressful but exciting. What can we do to ensure our new employee is not overwhelmed? The key is sharing the right amount of information, dosing it. To do that we need to define what information is crucial to know from day one, and what information can be provided later in time. A person who has just started should be guided at the beginning of his or her career in your company, not to feel lost or like wasting time, not knowing what to do next. 

A good way of ensuring that can be providing new hires with a list of tasks they are suggested to do during the first day. The tasks should include the introduction to the technologies, methodologies, and tools used in your company, an introduction to the company culture, and organizational matters as well as the time to get to know the team. The list is prepared much earlier so it is thought-through, hence there is a smaller chance of forgetting something you wanted to include in the process. Such lists help to unify the way of introducing newcomers to your company and make it easier to collect feedback and improve the onboarding process regularly. 

There are many tools that you can use to create such a list available online like Meistertask, Jira, Trello, or Asana. You can also try to adjust the tools already used in your company. The good checklist should be clear, easy to navigate through, and prepared in a chronological way. The tasks should be thoroughly explained, even if something seems very easy for you it can be problematic for others. It will save your time to prepare the explanation ahead so that the new employee wouldn’t have to waste his/her time to search for an answer. 

 

Dividing the list into phases would help both, the new person, and the person responsible for onboarding to know at what stage of the onboarding process they are, and therefore estimate the time left until the end of the process. The checklist would reduce the possibility of missing to pass important information. 

We shouldn’t forget about the separate checklist for the person who is in charge of the onboarding. His or her responsibilities start much earlier than the first day of the work of a new employee. Preparing a workplace, equipment, or creating accounts need some planning and has to be done in advance. Creating a standardized list of tasks would let the person follow the steps, and manage to prepare everything on time.

 

How to know what should both lists include?

 

In Railwaymen we conducted a set of surveys with people currently responsible for hiring, onboarding, managing documents, and equipment. With their help, we gathered all the necessary information that needs to be passed to the newcomer as well as all the necessary steps that need to be taken by the people responsible for onboarding. 

We then conducted a survey among our recently hired employees and asked them what could be improved in our onboarding process, what was unclear for them, and what we missed completely. The carefully conducted research was a part of the UX design process. After brainstorming and talks at several meetings we came up with lists of tasks, slightly different depending on the position in the company.

 

 

How to improve the onboarding process?

 

We need to remember that creating an onboarding process is not a one time job. An extremely important part of it is collecting feedback from newly hired and constantly updating it.

Each onboarded person can help you by saying what was good and what needs improvement. You can learn this information by attaching a questionnaire at the end of your checklist and repeat it after one month or three months to get the most reliable answers. You can additionally collect frequently asked questions, not only asked by new hires but by the whole team, put them down in one place, and try to include the answers for the most common ones in your onboarding process.

 

Conclusion

 

To sum it up. Creating an onboarding plan will be an investment with high returns. It almost guarantees a lower turnover rate and better job performance. You can minimize the time put into preparing and conducting training and thus safe money. 

By preparing a checklist you will automate the process and new hires will onboard themselves with reduced assistance of your employees who can spend the saved time on doing something more profitable. The list of tasks to do will reduce the sense of chaos accompanying the first day of work and will make newcomers feel guided and productive.

 

Want to work in the Software House that treats their employees’ development very seriously, ensures challenging projects, and nurtures a positive atmosphere every day? 

Apply for our open positions here!

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