What is Onboarding? And Why Does It Matter?

culture leadership leadership culture new hires onboarding process orientation team building values what is onboarding Mar 08, 2022
What is Onboarding

Cindy and I focus the majority of our work around helping organizations develop their leaders and build more effective communication into their cultures. Quite frankly, I can’t can’t think of anything else that can impact a company’s productivity, and in turn profitability, any more than those two things - and both are usually the first things that get cut from the budget when times get tight, if they’re ever included in the budget to begin with! While I will never waiver on how important those two things are, or in emphasizing that we cannot afford to focus our efforts on only those with “supervisor” or “manager” in their title, I also believe that we can’t wait until there’s an issue to add this into the messages we send our team…

Effective leadership needs to be something we provide every member of our team from the very beginning! And we need to work diligently to ensure we’re communicating our message effectively every single time we’re with one or more of those team members!

With that in mind, it may serve us all well to look at how we can do this from day one - beginning with our onboarding process! So what is onboarding anyway? And why does it even matter? 

More often than not, I’ve seen the onboarding process viewed as a necessary evil; something that sucks up time on an employee’s first day with the company and keeps them from getting started on the work that will actually make money… But is that really the case?

Before we even bother digging into any hard financial evidence that proves the way we onboard has (or doesn’t have) a significant impact on our overall profitability, let’s start by looking at what it is, as well as what we should be doing in that process!

Here’s how BambooHR, a human resources technology firm, defines onboarding:

"Onboarding is a human resources industry term referring to the process of introducing a newly hired employee into an organization. Also known as organizational socialization, onboarding is an important part of helping employees understand their new position and job requirements. It’s the process that helps them integrate seamlessly with the rest of the company. There are many activities that go into the onboarding process, from the job offer to team training. Onboarding may last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, but the most effective onboarding usually lasts at least a few months. Ideally, employees will feel confident and competent when the onboarding process is complete."

I think this is a solid explanation, albeit something very few organizations do at all - let alone well… In many cases, especially in smaller companies that just don’t have someone dedicated to being intentional about the onboarding process, the legal paperwork is sent home with the employee when they fill out their background check authorization form so they can get them started on their actual job as quickly as possible the first day.

I certainly understand the pressure every company faces to be profitable, but trying to do too much too fast can have a far different effect long term! Regardless of the nature of our work, slowing down on the front end may be the very thing that helps us speed up results down the road. When we invest the time from the very beginning to make sure we’ve set the tone for what our organizational values really are, and we’re intentional about building at least some level of a relationship with that new team member, we remove a lot of the guesswork and we limit (some) of the chance that those values will be diluted or even poisoned later on…

Moving forward, we’ll take a hard look at how we can be intentional about creating an effective onboarding process that drives measurable results (without breaking the bank or crippling production on the front end)!