Is Onboarding Inefficiency Costing You Profit?

When trying to raise the bottom line, there’s a list of usual suspects that leadership turns to. Maybe your organization needs to hire more salespeople, lay off underperforming team members, refine your marketing efforts — but rarely does leadership think to streamline the employee onboarding process.

In part, this can be attributed to the well-documented absence of HR’s voice in the C-Suite. Leadership doesn’t always realize that onboarding is a process that can be refined and perfected.

HR professionals, however, are well aware that winging the employee onboarding process can have some pretty significant downstream effects. In this article, we’ll explore how an inefficient onboarding process can impact the bottom line, and what you can do to address these issues.

Delayed time-to-start

If there isn’t a clear channel of communication between you and your candidate and a structured process, then you’re missing a major opportunity to speed time-to-start.

Presumably, your organization wants to hire somebody in order to expand, to reduce an excessive workload or to introduce a unique skill set into an on-going project. The more time spent identifying which forms a candidate has and hasn’t filled out, correcting errors, waiting on background check results, credentialing and other transactional onboarding tasks, the more time your organization will need to wait before it can benefit from your candidate’s skills.

On the flip side, your candidate isn’t going to be happy waiting days, weeks or sometimes months before they can get to work and start earning a paycheck. While they’re waiting for you to give them the green light, a competitor might make them a better offer. If they don’t know when they’ll get to start and haven’t signed a contract, why wouldn’t they move on? Suddenly, your organization is short on the time and energy it took to source that candidate, your coworkers are missing vital support and you need to start the hiring process all over again.

Making a bad impression

Onboarding serves as your first impression to your new candidate. Regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative experience, it will color the rest of your candidate’s time with your organization.

Thus, if the employee onboarding process is slow, confusing or fails to prepare the candidate for their new role, it’s going to sap motivation and make your new hire less effective at their work. If it’s bad enough, they might start looking for a new job just a few months in — in fact, one case study found that new hires that went through a structured onboarding process were 69 percent more likely to stay with that company for the next three years. Candidates that begin to seek work elsewhere after an unpleasant onboarding experience aren’t poor fits or underperforming — they just haven’t been set up for success.

Poor training and enculturation

Even within the HR department, it can be tempting to think of onboarding as what happens between a candidate’s application and their first day on the job. There’s plenty to focus on between those two points, to be sure, but the employee onboarding process is a much lengthier process than that.

New hires need to be trained, mentored and integrated into the workplace culture. Regularly checking in on new hires after key milestones — commonly their first 30, 60 and 90 days — is key to ensuring that they’re adapting and growing.

It can take up eight months before a new hire is fully productive in their new role; you can help them meet or beat that timeline by ensuring they know what the right processes are and who to ask for guidance. Most importantly, continuing the onboarding process through training and enculturation shows your new hires that you don’t think of them as just a worker, but that you’re interested and invested in their wellbeing.

Potential audit risks

Carrying out your onboarding process on the fly doesn’t just jeopardize the candidate experience; it weakens your auditability.

First, lacking a systemized process also means lacking a method for storing crucial forms and information. When it comes time for an audit, business could grind to a halt as you track down information in email folders, isolated drives and filing cabinets.

Second, when there isn’t a repeatable process in place, it makes it more likely that HR members will miss, skip or erroneously perform a crucial step. If so, you could be in for a nasty surprise down the line.

How to avoid these pitfalls

Fortunately, these issues aren’t impossible to solve. HR professionals can modify the employee onboarding process to ensure that it operates as smoothly as possible, ensuring that onboarding isn’t costing the larger organization profit.

The first way to reduce onboarding inefficiency has been a running theme throughout this article — don’t improvise; define a structured onboarding process. When you take time in advance to plan out the individual steps to your employee onboarding process, you’ll quickly identify what elements negatively impact the candidate experience, where bottlenecks and dependencies exist and opportunities to streamline more transactional tasks.

What’s more, defining your process enables you to improve upon it over time. As you start to see patterns emerge, you’ll be better able to pinpoint the root cause of any issues.

Another critical step is to engage with your candidate. Onboarding can often feel like a series of forms to fill, boxes to check and steps to complete, but it’s a much more nuanced process of incorporating a new team member into your organization. Frequent check-ins are the best means of guaranteeing that any minor problems don’t balloon into larger challenges down the line and that your candidate grows into their new role.

Finally, use software to handle the procedural work. It’s all well and good to acknowledge the importance of the human connection when onboarding, but there might not be any time to do so if you’re buried in paperwork. Not only does purpose-built onboarding software provide you with the time and energy to devote to engaging with your candidates, but it also ensures you’ll stay in compliance and move through these transactional onboarding tasks as quickly as possible.

Of course, there are many more ways that you can inject efficiency into the employee onboarding process and raise the bottom line. We got into more detail on the individual steps of the onboarding process and ways to improve them in our free guide, Your Deep Dive Into The Onboarding Checklist. Follow the link to download your copy.