There is no “perfect” onboarding process, but there may be an improved version of onboarding that can exist for your organization as you develop how your time is spent when training new additions to your team.  -  Getty Images

There is no “perfect” onboarding process, but there may be an improved version of onboarding that can exist for your organization as you develop how your time is spent when training new additions to your team.

Getty Images

In the age of iPhones, apps, bots, and Amazon, we have all become conditioned to expect instant gratification. When something requires a hefty initial investment of time, we look for alternatives without the heavy lift. With a myriad of busy schedules and days that just don’t have enough hours, it’s a typical strategy to negotiate with ourselves on time investment versus outcomes. When it comes to the on boarding of new hires, this, quite frankly, doesn’t usually pay off.

Onboarding is the process in which new hires are integrated into the organization. Broadly it’s everything you do for a new employee before they are ready and equipped to take on the responsibilities of their new position. This can include paperwork, human resources policy requirements, providing a company overview, equipment ordering and setup, general process training, and job-specific training.

As experienced professionals, we all try to find candidates that are the best match possible to our culture and to the experience needed for the role. However, once a decision is made to hire a candidate, the responsibility transfers to the company to provide the hire with all the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to be successful in their new role, based on the expectations we set for them. Having an organized and well-thought-out process for this can ultimately increase speed to return-on-investment on new candidates.

The Increasing Importance of Onboarding Employees

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the first 45 days of employment account for up to 20% of worker turnover. ClickBoarding states that employees who engage in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay for at least three years. A poor onboarding process can have a lasting negative impact and lead to an increased likelihood that your new hire will look for another job and leave. The cost for hiring a new employee, per Indeed, is typically between $4,000 and $20,000, which means turnover can become very costly. It’s important to take this into consideration when evaluating what expenses may or may not make sense when building out a structured onboarding process.

Within the automotive industry, dealers, administrators, and agents have a good understanding of onboarding procedures. However, if you are looking for ways to improve an existing onboarding process or need to implement a process if you are starting from scratch, it can be helpful to look at it in bite-sized pieces. Each piece that you can build or improve upon over time can have a positive impact on your overall employee retention. Some of the pieces you should consider are:

  • Content: What information do they need to know about your organization, your specific processes, and their role in order to have the best chance of success?
  • Tools: What tools or resources can you add or provide access to that can improve efficiency and provide value?
  • Timeline: How much time is necessary to dedicate to training and shadowing before they are ready to take on the responsibility of their role?

Content can be a good place to start because you may have more of this than you even realize, and it’s a matter of organization. Start with new hire paperwork, then any formal company policies and/or handbook. If you don’t have a company overview that exists, try to pull from presentations or marketing materials you have assembled in the past to create one. Think about mission and values, history, and any major milestones you’ve hit as a company, such as awards you’ve received, and then add some content about the industry as a whole and where/how you fit. This is crucial because it builds confidence with your new hires that they made the right choice and are aligned with their new professional home.

Hopefully, breaking down a large and important process into small, manageable components can set you on a path of achieving improved employee retention and speed to ROI with new hires.

Putting together role-specific training materials can be more labor intensive. Start by outlining all the responsibilities of the role and then work your way through each one, building on your outline to include the pieces of knowledge they may need in order to handle that responsibility.

Next let’s focus on tools. This can become one of the more costly pieces of the puzzle, so remember that it is okay to be gradual and strategic here. Having a full blown training curriculum in a learning management system full of soft skills, hard skills, company information, and more is an excellent option. However, if you are a smaller organization just beginning to grow your workforce with a limited budget, you can simply build out a base set of trainings in PowerPoint or another presentation tool. Other tools include the equipment you provide for your employees, such as desktop computers, laptops, phones, webcams, virtual meeting platforms, and so on. Investing in the right equipment and ensuring new hires have this right from the start, as well as technology setup support, makes a huge difference in how they feel about their new employer.

Lastly, let’s discuss timeline. Time is money, right? No manager can put all their responsibilities on hold for two months and dedicate 100% of their time to training a new employee. They should, however, make an initial time investment into identifying all the things they do on a daily/weekly/ monthly basis and choose which of those activities would be beneficial for the new hire. Outlining a basic onboarding schedule of priority items, as well as how long should be dedicated to each, can help you check off the necessary things while still allowing for flexibility.

A First and Lasting Impression

The most time critical aspect of onboarding is the first week. This is usually spent hands on with new hires tackling compliance items and exposing them to your company’s culture, especially if they are working remotely. Beyond that, allow yourself the ability to set targets that can have some flexibility. An example of this may be identifying your new sales hires should spend three to five days in the field shadowing senior sales team members within their first 45 days. The timing for when this occurs during the 45-day period can be flexible and based on what those other team members have planned on their own schedules. Be creative about incorporating their exposure needs into what you are already doing, versus trying to build additional availability into your already packed schedule.

Hopefully, breaking down a large and important process into small, manageable components can set you on a path of achieving improved employee retention and speed to ROI with new hires. There is no “perfect” onboarding process, but there may be an improved version of onboarding that can exist for your organization as you develop your content, tools, and how your time is spent when training new additions to your team.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danielle Cumbee is director of sales integration at Spectrum Automotive Holdings.

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today

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