Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Crebar from Sapling. His opinions are his own.
In a world that is more transparent and connected than ever, it’s becoming increasingly clear that employer brands are defined by employee experiences, not marketing teams.
‘Employer Brand’ is basically a fancy term to describe a company’s reputation in the talent market. And the truth is that the employee voice is perceived as more trustworthy than the CEO – so supporting employee success and general well-being is a mission-critical element in attracting and retaining talent.
This comes at a time when social media continues to find its way into every aspect of our digital lives. Reviews, comments and feedback about internal practices will eventually find their way to social channels, and 79% of today’s candidates are likely to use social media in their search.
With these two factors in mind, HR leaders need to be aware of the reputation they are crafting in the talent market and ensure they’re supporting a top-notch employer brand. This starts with solidifying your employee experience through the onboarding process.
The onboarding experience for a new employee is the most important opportunity for setting expectations on how their employee experience will be at your company.
Here are five strategies that you can implement during the employee onboarding process to build the bedrock of a robust employer brand.
1. Early engagement shows you’re focused on employee success
The earlier the team is mobilized on the onboarding process, the better.
Start making moves to engage new hires as soon as they have accepted the offer, wasting no time in bringing them into the tribe and introducing them to the company culture. A lot of applicant tracking systems integrate with onboarding solutions to make this quick and easy.
What was historically a 2 – 4 week ‘black-out’ period before the new employee’s first day, has become a window of opportunity for early engagement.
Revisit your company story – show them your history, milestones, values and corporate mission that explain who you are and what you’re company is aiming to do.
2. Onboarding portals provide a company-branded experience
Employee onboarding portals are a user-friendly method to bring new hires into your organization. By engaging them with the right experience and resources early on, you can smooth their transition and build cultural alignment.
Help employees complete their basic paperwork, learn the basic company policies and procedures, and read the FAQs. This will help them hit the ground running on their first day.
Skilled and industry-based training programs can also be developed through these portals. Instead of stale training manuals and outdated PowerPoint presentations – develop interactive programs or basic video streams that can be easily digested.
Micro-learning is becoming increasingly popular because it doesn’t require a long attention span, and works great for delivering lessons over mobile devices.
3. Onboarding roadmaps show you care about their development
During the onboarding process, managers and human resources teams should be responsible for setting a new employee roadmap. Making goals and expectations transparent significantly improves the chances of a successful ramp-up to full proficiency.
Make it clear where the new employee should be at 30-60-90 days, and schedule formal check-ins to make sure everything is going to plan.
A typical onboarding roadmap may look like this:
- In the first 30 days, the new employee will undergo basic training, meet the team, access the systems, and learn how to give the ultimate ‘30-second company pitch’.
- To day 60, they can starting hitting goals, getting feedback from supervisors and building stronger peer relationships. Give them ownership of a small project as a challenge and to encourage their confidence.
- To day 90, they can implement new projects, self-correct and aim for bigger goals. They should feel confident in their role and contribute to the broader team’s success.
It can typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity. But by creating a clear roadmap with defined targets and objectives – you’ll encourage new employees to get there much quicker.
What will that mean for your employer brand? If new employees reach their full-potential sooner, they’ll have a better employee experience, will more likely be happier in their role, and will be strong ambassadors for you as an employer of choice.
4. Build a supportive culture – the flywheel of new hire success
The tricky part about company culture is that while the human resources team can influence it, it’s the broader team that will define it.
Company culture is everything, and encouraging the right behaviour is an increasing focus for most organizations – 87% cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.
A company with 100 people may only have a handful of people in the HR department. But the framework and practices the HR team puts in place will drive the momentum of company culture.
By deploying simple and scalable onboarding practices – human resources teams can create a virtuous cycle of reinforcing company culture. New employees that have a great onboarding experience are likely to offer the same courtesy to those who will come into the organization after them.
The culture you show your new hires will be the culture that’s reinforced as your company scales.
5. Onboarding helps define your reputation
Building a strong employer brand is the foundation of successful talent recruitment and retention. From the minute your new employees accept an offer, they will be forming opinions that will collectively become the basis of your company’s external reputation.
A strong employee onboarding program should show that you’re focused on employee success, that you care about their development, and be driven by a supportive company culture.
By curating a great employee onboarding experience you will encourage new hires to hit the ground running, reach their full potential, and be great representatives of your employer brand.