Are you on board?

Posted by in Asia, Frances Farnworth, HR, Leadership, Management

Welcome on board

Starting a new job can be daunting enough at any level, without turning up to find you were forgotten about, left to figure it all out on your own, thrown in and told to get going. Does that get you ‘onboard’ with the company? Many would say no.

An effective onboarding process of new staff has been shown to be key in the retention of staff, which seems obvious, YET the ineffective onboarding of new staff is all too common. Get it wrong and your new superstar whiz kid (or even your senior hire) won’t stick around too long. Get it right and it speaks volumes about you as a company, the care level for your staff and importantly it can help kick start the ROI you gain from your new employee!

So what is it, who should it involve and how long does it last?

  1. Nothing new

Onboarding isn’t new. People have always started new jobs, but awareness of how important onboarding is has been more regularly highlighted in recent years. HR experts globally see it as a key initiative and crucial to an employee’s experience with a company and brand from the get go.

It’s not an event on its own, it’s an ongoing process. Yes, it will likely include an orientation of ‘where is’, ‘who is’ and ‘how to’ and the sharing of key policies and procedures etc. However, inducting an employee to use the printer doesn’t mean they are ‘onboard’ with the strategies and agenda of the business. Onboarding should in fact commence right from the first contact point in the recruitment process (but that’s a whole other article!).

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) describes the term ‘onboarding’ to cover the whole process; from an individual’s contact with the organization before they formally join, through to understanding the business’ ways of working and getting up to speed in their job. The Australian HR Institute (AHRI) echoes this and also reiterates that a successful onboarding program can also help to reduce incidences of early resignation. Are you onboarding from the start of your recruitment process?

  1. One size fits all?

Naturally, well-considered onboarding programs will vary greatly depending on the nature and size of the organization and the complexities of the role and business. One size is unlikely to fit all. However, organizations of all sizes should consider ALL touch point opportunities, commencing with the recruitment process and even moving into performance management and annual reviews, thinking about what the business really want their staff to be ‘onboard’ with. Consider your employer branding, the delivery of the company’s vision, mission and values and the effectiveness and style of your recruitment and talent management processes. Tailor the process and echo the style that fits with your business and industry.

  1. Its HR’s job is it?

It is also often left to those in HR to lead this process, but onboarding should encompass efforts from all departments. You are, after all, one organization working towards common goals aren’t you? Yes HR should be assisting to facilitate the process, leading communication, scheduling and generally reducing any surprises for a new hire but ultimately like all key initiatives it needs to be led from the top and everyone should be onboard to onboard.

So who does it well?

Yes, the obvious guys such as Facebook, Netflix, Google and Twitter were always going to be up there with their attractive onboarding programmes, including mentors and buddies, scheduled training programmes and well thought out welcome packs, but some less obvious brands are also coming to the table with some innovative approaches.

Tech firm Bazaarvoice, for example, sets up a week long scavenger hunt, teaching all new employees, about the company’s culture and relevant jargon along the way to get their new hires off to a flying start.

Rackspace are also paving their own path with games, costumes and music all part of a new hires first week, whilst SME and software company Buffer also set up a buddy scheme, introducing three buddies to each new hire even before starting on their first day.

Eyewear company, Warby Parker, digitally delivers all relevant information on the company brand and business in advance and guides hires on what to expect on their first day, week and month. They also ensure the line mangers call the night before to assist in settling any first day nerves.

And Valve, an American video game developer, bought all staff together to develop what they claim is the funniest handbook ever, to ensure employees don’t ’freak out’ whilst they are there!

With so many possibilities to enhance a new starter’s journey into a new company, if you’re not already onboard, now is the time to start before your prized resources start jumping ship or even worse – you’re snubbed for another company before the get go!

It doesn’t have to be quirky / funny / on trend – do something that is right for your brand, your values, and your industry and of course the level of role – different things work for different people and different businesses – but do something!

Based in Singapore, Frances Farnsworth is a consultant at SRi, the leading firm dedicated to executive and management talent in sports, media and entertainment.

To have a confidential discussion about how Frances can help you attract the right talent for your organisation, please contact Frances on