Four Considerations for Onboarding in 2022

Employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs at a rate perhaps never seen before. And, while there has undeniably been a shift in Americans’ attitudes toward work, the majority of those who quit will move on to other jobs. But what will make those jobs—and the relationship between the employee and the organization—different than the ones that came before?

Onboarding is where organizations can start building the groundwork for employee engagement, satisfaction and, ultimately, retention. Underperforming in this early stage of the employee journey can have significant effect on an organization’s turnover rate. In fact, approximately one-third of employees quit within 90 days of starting a new job, according to this Harvard Business Review article. The reasons include:

  • Their role didn’t meet the expectations that had been set for them (43%)
  • A specific incident drove them away (34%)
  • The company culture was not the right fit (32%)

*Respondents could choose more than one option

Each one of these reasons is a problem that could be solved by an organization’s careful review, update and even, in some cases, the creation of an onboarding process that meets the changing needs of employers and organizations in 2022. Below, read about four of these considerations:

Onboarding Consideration #1: In Person, Remote or Hybrid?

Organizations have more choices in 2022 regarding where, when and how onboarding takes place. While workers seem to have expressed a clear preference for organizations that have adopted a remote or hybrid workforce, there’s still a big benefit to conducting onboarding in person. A significant number of employees—especially younger ones who are newer to the workforce—have pointed out that missing the cues that you can only get from in-person communication have put them at a disadvantage or at least made those all-too-important first few weeks more difficult and awkward.

Of course, onboarding can be conducted effectively no matter where it takes place, if organizations keep in mind essential goals (e.g., engaging the new employee, helping them acclimate to the organization and their new position and accurately communicating expectations) and adapt their onboarding process to match.

Onboarding Consideration #2: How to Effectively Communicate Company Culture

A significant part of acclimating new employees is immersing them into the company culture. Whether onboarding is in person, remote or hybrid, this is an essential element—the importance of which cannot be overstated. To refresh, company culture can be described as the attitudes, behaviors and values of a company and its employees.

Often, the stated culture—the one organizations sell to potential employees in interviews—falls short of the reality. The real company culture is visible in how employees communicate and interact with each other, how they make decisions, their leadership style and more. If there is a disconnect between these two things—the stated culture and the actual culture—it will spell problems for employee morale and longevity.

First of all, be honest. If your organization has a very top-down, hierarchical structure, be clear about it in the interview stages. If company leaders, managers or employees disagree about company culture, address it. Onboarding shouldn’t be the first place an employee is introduced to company culture. Instead, it should be a reinforcement and a more detailed look at the culture along with examples of how the employee can live it and perform effectively within it.

Onboarding Consideration #3: Should You Get Creative with Onboarding?

Onboarding is more than a list of steps to be checked off. Yes, it is a process. But some organizations are getting creative with that process. If there was ever a time to try something new with onboarding, now is the time—given that the utility and effectiveness of many entrenched employment processes and considerations are already being tested. Here are a few examples:

  • The buddy system isn’t just for kids at camp. Having an assigned “onboarding buddy,” a peer coach who helps them navigate their new environment, can help new employees adapt easily and with less stress. This is true whether your organization has a remote, hybrid or in-person workforce
  • Some organizations are “gamifying” their onboarding process. Examples include virtual scavenger hunts, challenges, earning points or badges and much more. There’s no reason that onboarding—and even learning—can’t be fun
  • Artificial intelligence can be used to streamline the onboarding process. For example, using “smart” forms can avoid employees having to enter the same identification or demographic information repeatedly. Chat bots allow new employees to ask questions at any time without the fear of “bothering” someone that new employees often report
  • Personalized onboarding can increase the chances of successful integration of a new employee and increase employee satisfaction at the same time. For example, consider tailoring your onboarding experience according to learner preferences—offer a choice between in-person or hybrid onboarding, or incorporate multiple training modalities to ensure different learner preferences are met (e.g., a choice between watching a video or reading a manual)

Onboarding Consideration #4: Is Investing in Reboarding Worth It?

The Great Resignation” has triggered the need for employees at all levels of an organization to adapt and reorient themselves to their workplaces. And, although onboarding is typically reserved for brand new employees, its application could be much broader. Some organizations are experimenting with reboarding where existing employees complete an onboarding process to readapt them to their role, reinforce company culture and set them up for success in a work environment that’s undeniably changed.

Reboarding can work well in cases where an organization is bringing remote workers back to the office or permanently adopting a hybrid workforce. It’s a great opportunity to “start fresh,” reengage employees and level set about new and ongoing expectations.

“The Great Resignation” has changed the way employees and organizations relate to each other—for the foreseeable future and possibly for good. But much of the focus on “The Great Resignation” has centered on employees leaving their jobs. What’s often left unsaid is that many of those folks are moving on to new jobs. Organizations must ensure that those new employees are onboarded successfully, or they risk additional turnover (plus the wasted time and money that goes with it).