Onboarding + Performance = Engaged Employees

By Sara Pollock

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Many organizations know that performance management and onboarding are inextricably linked and we want to make our clients aware of this important detail as well. By associating the two sooner rather than later, this will help your team understand and execute goals successfully, encourage higher engagement and achieve an overall better retention rate. Once you draw a line from a best-in-class onboarding program to your performance culture, you will find yourself wondering why you didn’t start associating the two more closely before.

Here are five reasons that your onboarding program is the perfect place to start instilling performance culture and some practical tips on how to start showing your internal stakeholders and your employees just how aligned these two can be!

Reason #1: Onboarding sets the tone.

When you are onboarding a brand new employee, not only are you showing them just how things are run in the company, but you’re setting communication standards, building trust, creating expectations for performance and giving them a sneak peek into what it’s like to both hit goals and hopefully, raise the bar. Businesses with a strong learning culture have employee engagement and retention rates around 30–50% higher than those that don’t.

TIP: A best-in-class onboarding program will always include performance standards as part of the process. If yours doesn’t consider where you can add some of these clues for the newest member of your workforce. Every company has one or two specific things that spell success in the organization. It’s up to you to determine if speed or safety; quality or service…whatever metric you select (hint: it might be in your mission statement or values), find ways to build it into your onboarding process. 80% of employees who said they have a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organization’s vision and values, as opposed to 40% of those who don’t.

For example, if your company values timeliness, let the new hire know during the onboarding process that being on time to meetings and to work is extremely important in your company. Illustrate that during onboarding with small deadlines, so they begin creating the habit of being on time. Something as simple as telling them to have their insurance forms submitted by 2:00 pm on Thursday can slowly begin the process of training your employees to the specific performance culture of your organization.

Reason #2: Onboarding introduces the employee to various systems anyway.

Your newest hire will be learning the processes to do his or her job. While the first few weeks are packed with learning and it might seem counterintuitive to introduce yet another new software, tool, platform or process, this is actually the perfect time to get your new hires acclimated to how you measure performance at the company.

TIP: Companies with great onboarding programs are constantly communicating to the new employee what they can expect over the next few days, weeks, and months. If you have performance milestones that are going to take place for the employee, give them a heads-up! Show them the system your company uses, help them put the dates on the calendar, show them whatever type of rubric you use to gauge excellence. In essence, help empower them to manage their own performance.

Reason #3: Career pathing starts at onboarding.

Today’s employees are staying in the same role for far less than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. While performance management isn’t just for the younger generations, they will make up the majority of the workforce in less than 2 years. 46% of 18-to-25-year-olds is the age group most likely to leave their job. If you don’t show your employees a clear path through and forward in your organization, you may lose them even sooner than the standard two years. 33% of professionals selected “I’m bored need a new challenge” as their motivation for moving on to another job.

TIP: Good performance management software will provide a bird’s eye view of where people can go in your organization based on past performance, competencies set, assessments of current employees, and much more. This provides executives and HR professionals the opportunity to see clear trends and paths through the company. Share these obvious stepping stones and skills and attitudes needed to move in the direction they identify with.

Reason #4: Great onboarding helps the employee succeed, faster.

Most employees feel the pressure to prove themselves early on in a new position or role. They want to show their new manager and the team they can handle the duties of the job and have the skills necessary to succeed. An onboarding process that gives a clear view of precisely what is expected and gives them an idea of how and when their performance will be measured, gives them the highest chance of success. 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

TIP: Implementing immediate formal and informal performance feedback, early and often, creates a culture of performance that helps the employee succeed much faster than those who have no performance management or onboarding alignment. Find a system that offers both onboarding, training and performance management so your newest employees have a seamless transition as they matriculate into the organization.

Reason #5: Onboarding introduces employees to their peers.

If your company does any sort of 360-reviews or peer reviews, this is the perfect time to introduce them to that system so when it’s their turn to give feedback on one of their colleagues, they’re aware of how it works, why you do it and how they can contribute. Your newest team member will also learn how their job, and every other role, impact the company from the very beginning, mitigating the risk that they’ll be disengaged in the future.

TIP: If you use a mentor or buddy system in your onboarding process, you can introduce peer reviews as a way to help your new hire to the performance management culture and processes in your organization. 80% of workers said they trusted their peers, only 72% trusted their bosses and just 65% trusted senior leaders. Essentially, your employees can “practice” on one another and take some of the fear and mystique out of more formal performance management conversations.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany Blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible.

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