Staffing Management

Effective onboarding can be done on a budget

By Yasmeen Qahwash

Feb. 21, 2020

Cheryl Strizelka
Design Interactive, Inc.’s Cheryl Strizelka.

Creating an effective onboarding process is vital when it comes to employee engagement and retention. While it may seem tedious and time consuming, there are many ways to implement a successful onboarding program without breaking the bank.

The onboarding process should be well-thought-out and not done on a whim. Keeping in mind the new employee and the nerves that come with starting a new job goes a long way. 

Cheryl Strizelka, director of human resources at technology company Design Interactive, Inc., said that it is essential to consider the little things. New hires should be equipped with all the tools and information they need to easily transition into their new position. This includes everything from the smallest details like providing pens and notepads to the bigger priorities like making sure they have a dedicated person to guide them through their transition. 

Giving a facility tour early on in the process and providing the new hire with several points of contact in case they have questions also helps make them feel more at home as quickly as possible. “These intangible considerations don’t cost a penny, yet make a huge difference,” Strizelka said.

Also read: How to create a formal onboarding program

One of the most vital parts of onboarding is introducing the new employee to their team. It’s also common for managers to take their new employees to lunch or for the company to host a breakfast on their first day to get to know the new hire better. “Those things cost money, but you wouldn’t believe how much it changes somebody’s first day and their first week because they’ve met everybody,” Strizelka said. “You want to get them integrated as quickly as possible, creating some familiarity so they feel like they’re a part of the company, even if it’s early.”

There are also crucial conversations to have with new employees that give them a sense of what their role’s purpose is in the company, as well as what workplace culture is like. 

“New employees should know almost immediately how their role directly impacts the company’s vision and mission,” Strizelka said. “It’s also important that they understand how they will interface with colleagues that aren’t in their immediate circle.”

One invaluable gift that Strizelka advises all organizations to take advantage of is employee feedback. Asking employees who have recently started their positions to look back at their onboarding experience and give input on what was good and what needed improvement can be helpful. “I see a lot of HR professionals who get offended by that. They take it personally,” Strizelka said. “But when it comes down to it, that’s a gift they’re giving you. They’re giving you your next hack for your next onboarding.”

Also read: Constant connection is key to engagement of a global workforce

An onboarding program is usually owned by both the operations and HR teams within an organization. Strizelka said. While it’s common for these teams to feel like they’re going head-to-head, it is important for both to continuously work hand-in-hand, since this process exceeds much longer than just an employee’s first day or week. 

“Sometimes we find ourselves performing onboarding activities well into the first year of employment, and the [operations] team plays a huge role in this if executed successfully,” Strizelka said.

Churning people through the onboarding process just to check off all the boxes and get it over with quickly will only hurt the organization in the long run as high turnover rates are extremely costly, Strizelka said. It is essential to think about each person as an individual when going through this process and not just something to check off of a list.“The most expensive part of onboarding is doing it wrong,” she said. 

An effective onboarding program will protect the company’s investment in new employees and help create engaged and motivated team members, ultimately boosting employee retention, she said. 

“The onboarding experience for an employee sets the tone for an entire employment experience,” she said. “It may be cliche, but it’s true — you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Yasmeen Qahwash is an editorial associate for Workforce.

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