When a small business begins to grow quickly, many times the employee onboarding process fails to scale with growth. This failure may result in inefficiency and undesired outcomes--high employee turnover, low productivity. But by committing to a process of continuous improvement--ideally from the very start-- these organizations can position themselves to make incremental improvements that enable them to efficiently achieve desired outcomes.
Whether your organization is well-established or a startup, the following steps will help you build an employee onboarding process that adapts to your changing needs by incorporating continuous improvement.
1. Create A Vision For Your Onboarding Process It is vitally important to have a compelling vision for your onboarding process before creating a plan for continuous improvement. The vision for your onboarding process--or the desired outcomes--is what your performance and real outcomes will be measured against. Additionally, since each new hire will bring different experiences and perspectives, the best continuous onboarding improvement plans will measure real outcomes against the individual expectations of new hires too.
2. Determine What Is Essential to Achieving Your Vision With a vision of where you want your new hires to be after onboarding, you now must determine the most efficient way of getting them there. Remember, because this is a process that manages people, efficiency needs to be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, efficiency is not just having an employee accomplish tasks in a timely manner, but also ensuring that each individual’s experience is exceptional.
As you review the actions required in your organization’s onboarding process, make note of why each action is essential to achieving your vision. Then you can begin to design survey questions for new hires. These questions should be a mixture of ratings and open-ended style questions, and each question should be tied to an essential action and corresponding desired outcome. In this way, compiling and reviewing the responses will be easier and consistent.
3. Request Feedback From New Hires At Important Transition Points In creating “All Hands On Deck", ExactHire invited several HR thought-leaders to provide ideas and advice for employee onboarding. Jennifer McClure, President of Unbridled Talent LLC, sums up the importance of gathering new employee feedback as it relates to continuous onboarding improvement:
“I think it’s important to gather a baseline regarding new hire expectations before, or at the beginning of, the onboarding process. I’d also recommend soliciting feedback upon completion of the program, after one month, six months and one year. Knowing what works, what can be improved and understanding the impact of onboarding will be important not only for continuous improvement, but also reporting back to leadership on whether or not the program is meeting, or exceeding, expectations.”
4. Compile and Review Feedback Consistently By consistently soliciting feedback from new hires, you will have a good amount of data with which to to review and measure the performance of your onboarding process. Organizations vary as to how often or how much they hire, so the timing of onboarding process reviews will vary as well. A good place to start is to review your onboarding process on a quarterly basis..
5. Make Changes to Optimize Efficiency and Effectiveness Once you have all the feedback gathered, decide which process adjustments to make. This final step should not be taken lightly. It is dangerous to make changes based on every critical response received because it can transform your continual improvement process into a continual change process--the worst kind of inefficiency.
Additionally, in reviewing feedback, always ask yourself if the critical feedback is describing bad process or poor execution. Many times the process is fine, but extenuating circumstances, technical difficulties, or incompetence result in undesirable outcomes. Before making a decision to change process, determine the source of inefficiency or ineffectiveness; the change you need to make may be in the supporting resources, not the process.