Onboarding Your People: First Impressions Count

It’s a given that most people starting a job in a new company feel a sense of achievement from winning the role, excitement, and likely some nervousness about starting and the onboarding process. It’s expensive for the employer to find the right person; organizations spend time, money, and effort recruiting and retaining employees. According to the 2019 HR Industry Benchmarking Report from the Australian Human Resources Institute, the average cost of hiring a new employee is approximately AU$19,000 (US$13,600) and almost four times as much for C-level executives.

So, considering employee positivity and the organization’s investment, it makes sense that conditions should be ideal for the new starter to get off to a flying start, thanks to a seamless onboarding process. But is this the case? How prepared are organizations in welcoming new starters? Do the first few days and weeks meet employee expectations? How easy is it for new employees to access the resources they need to work normally – equipment, email, building, and computer network access?

Numerous studies over the past decade have found that a good onboarding process improves new starter retention, productivity, and engagement. It’s also well documented that first impressions are essential. As a recent arrival to the Australian service management marketplace, we wanted to understand how well Australian organizations onboard their employees and its impact on their immediate wellbeing and productivity.

This article via @TOPdesk shows the results of a survey of 1000 employees, from orgs that employ 250 to 5000 people, about their most recent onboarding experience. #ITSM #ESM Click To Tweet

So, we surveyed 1000 employees, from organizations that employ 250 to 5000 people, about their most recent onboarding experience. In addition, the survey looked at what Australian employees feel about the last time they joined a new organization and what people who use an onboarding process to introduce new starters think about the process.

The onboarding survey findings were striking

Both managers and employees across Australia think that onboarding practices undermine employees’ anticipation and excitement when starting a new role and do not fulfill their expectations and willingness to fix problems themselves. The way Australian businesses introduce new starters falls short of employee expectations and leads to employee lost productivity (and in some cases isolation, feelings of stress, disorganization, and frustration) when starting a new role. Our survey found that although most respondents felt excited (75%) and focused (69%) about starting a new job, the reality was far from ideal – with the employee onboarding experience negatively influencing their emotions and wellbeing:

  • A staggering 65% of employees felt stressed or overwhelmed, 50% felt lost or isolated, 38% felt disorganized, and 32% were left feeling frustrated – with a potential cause of frustration the lack of resources and guidance for new employees to solve common issues for themselves.
  • Two-thirds (69%) of respondents encountered issues that they could have fixed themselves with the proper guidance and resources.
  • If the necessary support was available, three-quarters (75%) would prefer to fix more issues by themselves.
  • Some 85% of survey participants believe that fixing their issues through a self-service portal makes their lives easier.
A survey conducted by @TOPdesk finds that the way Australian businesses introduce new starters falls short of employee expectations and leads to employee lost productivity. #HR #EX Click To Tweet

Understanding employee expectations of their employers

Australian employees have high expectations of new employer onboarding processes. They know that their work lives are easier if they can fix their own issues. They expect tools and systems that can make them more productive. No clearer is it than with Millennials, who – as a generation – now make up the largest part of the workforce. These tech-savvy employees have specific expectations that they consider the norm, especially when it comes to tech. In particular, they expect employers to adopt progressive, tech-driven approaches to workplace culture, communication, and support services. This can-do attitude of employees needs to be reflected in the support services an organization provides – the one-stop-shop for all your IT and other services and the self-service resources to allow people to fix problems for themselves.

Onboarding survey results via @TOPdesk: 65% of employees felt stressed or overwhelmed, 50% felt lost or isolated, 38% felt disorganized, and 32% were left feeling frustrated with their onboarding. #EX #HR Click To Tweet

The survey also highlighted that more than 90% of respondents believed it ideal to have access, tools, and equipment ready for them when they start in a new role. However, over a third (35%) had to wait a week or more to access computer applications, folders, and email. 35% of respondents who required a corporate uniform needed to wait a week or more to receive it. Plus, one in five new employees (21%) had to wait over a week to receive a building access pass.

35% of people surveyed in a @TOPdesk onboarding survey said they had to wait a week or more to access computer applications, folders, and email. #EX #HR #ITSM Click To Tweet

The business impact of onboarding issues

Most businesses spend time, money, and effort attracting and retaining new talent, but how these organizations onboard their new starters undermine this investment. Employees want to get off to a good start and make an excellent first impression. It makes you wonder about the reputational damage organizations incur by treating their new starters in this way.

In 2020, LinkedIn reported over 10 million Australian’s had a profile and logged into the site at least once a month. Sites like LinkedIn and online job boards make it easier for people to find new roles and advertise their availability and experience. These and other factors make it hard for employers to maximize their employee retention rates. Consequently, to attract talent and keep them, employers are considering more incentives to keep employers engaged, appreciated, and challenged in their current roles.

After organizations spend so much money, time, and effort to recruit new employees, it makes sense to consider a seamless onboarding experience as a welcome first impression. A successful and consistent process will cement an organization’s reputation as an efficient and professional employer. Ensuring new starters have all the tools, resources, and permissions to work productively from day one demonstrates an organization’s commitment to employee wellbeing. Importantly it sets the benchmark for how an organization operates and looks after its employees over the long term.

Make onboarding your first investment in retaining your talent. First impressions count. 

If you’d like to, you can download the TOPdesk report on the full survey findings and guidance on improving employee onboarding here.

AU/NZ General Manager at TOPdesk

Marian den Ouden opened TOPdesk’s Melbourne office in September 2019 to service customers in Australia and New Zealand. She joined the Dutch multinational in 2014 in sales and was previously the manager of the TOPdesk managed service provider program in the Netherlands. A former teacher, she holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in modern literature, digital and scientific publishing, and teaching.

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