Let’s talk about structured onboarding.
🤔 Why you should care about it
“Organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Companies with weak onboarding programs lose the confidence of their candidates and are more likely to lose these individuals in the first year.” - Brandon Hall Group report for Glassdoor, 2015
Every organisation, especially those going through hyper-growth, needs new hires to reach full performance potential as quickly as possible and contribute independently.
Training a single new engineer takes 5 to 10 hours per week from trained engineers in their team —> waiting too long for new hires to perform autonomously impacts the team’s velocity since senior colleagues are too busy getting them up-to-speed.
Newcomers can’t learn everything on their own —> a new hire’s first months is a combination of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. If new hires are left alone, they incoherently acquire the things they need to succeed in the organisation.
Only 12% of employees feel their company does a good job onboarding new team members —> It’s so hard to hire talents in today’s environment, especially engineers, it would be a shame that their first impression of your company is a bad one.
The absence of a strong onboarding program can make your work environment less inclusive —> new hires who are part of the dominant group can acquire knowledge more easily from social interactions, creating a disadvantage for people outside this group.
A structured onboarding process, aka “onboarding as a product”, transforms incoming new hires into autonomous and performing team members through a checklist of knowledge to acquire, people to meet, skills to master/improve and behaviours to pick up. A structured onboarding has set start and end dates and quantitative KPIs to measure the new hire’s transformation.
💡 Key Concepts
Employee Handbook —> a compilation of the company’s culture, required information, procedures and working conditions targeted at new hires.
Bootcamp —> an intensive program designed to immerse new engineers into the code base, internal tools and processes and help them create a network of trusted colleagues.
Mentorship program —> a structured one-on-one relationship between a new hire and a more senior team member who’s had the same position in the past.
”We’re too busy; we don’t have enough time to dedicate to new hires.”
—> Unfortunately, the time not spent getting new hires up-to-speed will double down the line when the same new hires aren’t able to complete tasks on their own.
“Onboarding is for big companies; we don’t have the resources.”
—> But you have the resources to lose talents a few months after they joined because you didn’t give them the tools to succeed in your organisation.
“Talented individuals don’t need onboarding; they can pick up everything themselves.”
—> Some people can pick up information, skills and behaviours independently, primarily through social interactions. Unfortunately, informal onboarding creates gaps between team members, disadvantages those who are less comfortable with social interactions and does not promote diversity.