A good onboarding experience is necessary to retain new hires. However, most companies overload employees with information, leaving them stressed and overwhelmed.

Join Dave Savino and Alyssa Zeff in Episode 23 of Employee Buzz to learn how communication can improve the employee onboarding experience.

Listen now to ensure new hires have a positive first impression of your company.

Episode transcript: 

Alyssa Zeff:
All right, everybody. Thank you. Welcome back to Employee Buzz. I'm Alyssa Zeff, your Lock & Key fan and John Denver listeners. Those are both two relatively distinct two quarantine events. Lock & Key is a show that I discovered on Netflix, and I got addicted to it very quickly. And John Denver is my musical version of comfort food. I am here with Dave Savino, who is a manager here at Davis & Company. Fun facts about Dave. He is a professional bodybuilder. Yes, professional earned his card. Lover of Disney that might come in handy later and a new dad. Welcome, Dave.

Dave Savino:
Well, thanks Alyssa. Thanks for the introduction. Happy to be here.

Alyssa Zeff:
So today are going to talk about a very important part of employee communication and the employee experience, onboarding. All right, Dave, let's jump right in. Why is getting onboarding right, so important?

Dave Savino:
All right. So generally onboarding is a very important thing for the company to get right. And for example, a Harvard Business Review survey that was recently done showed that 33%  of new employees look for new jobs within their first six months of starting a new job, which is incredible. And 23% actually leave before their first anniversary. In addition to that, there was also a Gallup study showed that a whopping 88% of employees think their employers did a poor job during onboarding.

Alyssa Zeff:
That's crazy.

Dave Savino:
Yeah, it's definitely a problem.

Alyssa Zeff:
And if you think about how much it costs to bring on an employee, and search and replace for an employee, when you look at those kinds of numbers, it's just not something that you want to get wrong.

Dave Savino:
No, definitely not.

Alyssa Zeff:
So what are some big mistakes that companies make when it comes to onboarding?

Dave Savino:
Well, there are a few that come to mind. Probably the biggest is I think a lot of companies try to cover everything that the employee needs to know in the first day or the first couple of days. And that just completely overwhelms the employee. Another thing sometimes companies will hand to employees is a pile of complicated benefits or maybe policy documents, and they won't provide an explanation or give any guidance as to how to sort through them. In addition to that, sometimes I've heard, which sounds awful to me, sometimes companies provide a large PowerPoint presentation with possibly up to 100 slides, jam-packed with tons of information, and it's extremely overwhelming. And the other thing that comes to mind for me is a lot of companies leave supervisors out of the process, which is a big no-no.

Alyssa Zeff:
It's so funny of all the things that you mentioned, they really resonated with me. I've worked before I was at Davis & Company, I worked for a very large global health care company. And all of those things you described were part of my onboarding process. So first of all, they mailed me, no joke, five giant, three-ring binders ahead of starting. And I was going from an agency to a big company. And these are things like stock options, which, and of course, there were all these acronyms that I didn't understand and all this kind of stuff. And it was so impersonal. And then I walked in on my first day and had all these questions, and my supervisor was like, "I don't know, you've got to talk to HR." And it was just such a disjointed process. And so I couldn't agree with the things that you outlined more. But certainly, some people are doing some things right. So what do you think are some best practices? I think we both have a few in mind. Why don't you start?

Dave Savino:
Sure. So communication can really improve the onboarding process. I guess three best practices that I can think of that would beef up the onboarding communication would probably, the most important would be including supervisors in the process. As I just said, a lot of companies are leaving supervisors out of the process, and that's not a good idea. So create a toolkit for the supervisors that explains the role that they're supposed to play in the onboarding process so that they're aware and in the loop, and that way, they can answer any questions regarding any of the onboarding. And they're not in the dark about it.

Dave Savino:
Another thing which is I think is a great idea, scheduling short face-to-face meetings, but over the course of four to six weeks with the new hire. So this way, you're not piling on all this information all at once. And that way, they have time to process the information and understand it. And I guess a third best practice coordinate with HR, so employees receive the training that they need on the company internet, time management tools, if the company manages records their time and other key procedures that the new hire will need to know and use.

Alyssa Zeff:
So three that I can think of kind of build on yours. One is onboarding needs to be tailored based on somebody's role. A standard package for everybody doesn't work. Depending on, are you at an office? Are you in a warehouse facility? Certainly, there's some standard information about the company overall. But you can't just hand everybody the same packet because they really want to know what is their personal experience is going to be like. Related to that, I think also seeking regular feedback, onboarding should be a living, breathing thing that changes regularly. And you should hear from employees how it's going, what's working, what's not. So you can make real-time adjustments as needed. And I think the last one for me is to have fun. Sometimes it gets so serious, and it can be fun, whether it's the content that is just more conversational and more fun or events or whatever it is, it doesn't have to be so serious.

Dave Savino:
I totally agree.

Alyssa Zeff:
So, related to best practices, I think there are some new things are happening in onboarding that I think as communicators and HR people we can get excited about. What's new, that we see our clients and others trying out right now that's really working?

Dave Savino:
Well, Alyssa, you're absolutely correct. There are definitely things companies are doing that we can get excited about. Some new things I've been hearing, which is a great idea, if you ask me, welcome lunches to get the new hires acquainted, this could also include four or five other employees. So that way they get to know people and they feel welcomed, and they're not like feeling isolated during their first few days or weeks at the company.

Dave Savino:
Another thing I've been hearing, which is also a cool idea, a box of I guess you would say, company swag to make the new hires feel like part of the family. You could have company sweatshirts, company mug, company t-shirt or hats, things like that. I don't know about you, but I love free clothes and free swag.

Alyssa Zeff:
That's very cool. So I've also heard about a couple of cool things. Some from our clients and some from just reading about them. One was having people connect with team members even before they start. So one of the most stressful things about starting at a new company is not knowing anybody, like kind of alleviate that, whether they have a quick chat or even a coffee or something, they actually get to meet people before their start date. Another one is incentivizing people to leave. Now, this is crazy, but it's very interesting from a financial and morale standpoint.

Alyssa Zeff:
Zappo’s did this, after four months of an employee starting, they offer $4,000 for the people who aren't happy to leave because they don't want people to stay in a job that they're unhappy at because they're so unproductive. And it's a relatively low investment on the company's part. Such an interesting shift in mindset, but it really makes sense if you think about it, both from an employee perspective and from the company's perspective.

Dave Savino:
Yep, absolutely.

Alyssa Zeff:
Another very cool one that I heard about that I loved is pre-start destress. So they're offering people financial incentives to do something before they start, take a quick vacation, go to a spa, whatever it is, it's an investment in, as you transitioned from one job to another, reset your thinking, relax and come to work fresh and new to start. Which I think is so cool and such a great idea.

Dave Savino:
Yeah, that actually sounds great. I'll take a spa trip.

Alyssa Zeff:
Exactly. So obviously, technology plays a role. It plays a role in everything that we're doing. And if we learned anything in 2020, oh my God, it's playing a role in everything that we're doing. So how does technology play a role in onboarding?

Dave Savino:
Yeah, a couple examples and I can think of, the first would be digital trainings. This is great because you can take these digital trainings at your own pace at home if you need to. You're not learning everything all at once, so you can stop and go, digest the information. And you can also refer back to the digital training. In the beginning, when you start a job, sometimes you try to learn something, and you forget right away because you're new to it. So you can refer back to those training, which is very helpful.

Dave Savino:
Another thing which I think is good for larger corporations, prerecorded and personalized video introductions from the CEO or president of the company. Now, this is good for, like I said, larger companies where you can't have face-to-face time with the president or CEO. Maybe they aren't located at that location, they’re across the country or whatever. So this is a great way to personalize it.

Alyssa Zeff:
That's very cool. One of the things I think that's so cool about technology is just cutting back on paper. Right? So cutting back on filling out all those forms, that company that I mentioned when I started, I had to fill out, I think like 50 forms by hand that were submitted. So this whole idea of entering information, eliminating all of the paper or eliminating that and somewhat related to that is the opportunity for great tracking and metrics on how things are going. You can use technology, I mentioned earlier, getting feedback is really important. You can use technology for different types of feedback on how onboarding is going. If there's a video, are they watching it? Where did we lose them in the video? All sorts of other things. So you can really get good real-time feedback on how your materials and your onboarding is working.

Dave Savino:
Absolutely.

Alyssa Zeff:
So what's next? Where do you think onboarding is going next?

Dave Savino:
Well, that's a great question. So with technology improving as fast as it is now, and especially now with the COVID-19 and all that's going on, a lot of employees are working remotely now more than ever. So with that, and the fact that technology keeps improving, I think soon we're going to start to see companies capturing unique and fun, virtual communications to support the onboarding experience remotely. I think it's going to be huge. And I think we're going to come up with some really good, fun and creative things.

Alyssa Zeff:
I agree. And just to build on that, the other thing that technology is going to enable for onboarding is to make it be very personalized—as you're entering information or they know they can pull information from your LinkedIn profile or from other public things about you or things from your job application, you’re going to get very targeted onboarding that's unique to you in the same way marketers do this. It's going to become a lot easier, so it's not generic and it feels like your onboarding experience, not just “a” onboarding experience, which is so cool.

Dave Savino:
Yep. Absolutely.

Alyssa Zeff:
Well, Dave, this was a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Dave Savino:
Oh, no problem. Happy to be here.

Alyssa Zeff:
Well, Dave, this was a lot of fun. Thank you again for being here, and thanks for the great conversation.

Dave Savino:
Sure. No problem. I enjoyed it and hopefully, maybe I'll be back soon, who knows.

Alyssa Zeff:
Yeah, it'd be great.

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