Best Practices for Achieving Talent Success Maturity

Onboarding: The Critical First Steps on the Road to Talent Success

Onboarding is the process of moving each new hire step by step from successful candidate to successful employee: engaged with your company, productive in their role, and capable of working independently toward their goals. Done right, onboarding can make the critical difference in whether a new hire — especially an A-player — leaves within three months or stays for the long term.

Onboarding Is a Time of Opportunity for HR, Managers, and New Hires

Onboarding carries your recruiting processes forward. It quickly immerses the new hire in your company culture. But hiring and training a new employee can be as stressful for HR and managers as it is for the new hire. Preparing all of the paperwork, outlining job responsibilities, and making sure the employee knows the ins and outs of your company are all important aspects of hiring — and they can quickly become overwhelming.

When you have effective, clear, and repeatable procedures for onboarding new employees and getting them started on the job, you can significantly reduce stress for everyone and create a smooth transition that benefits each person involved in the process.

“Transitions are periods of opportunity, a chance to start afresh, and to make needed changes in an organization. But they are also periods of acute vulnerability because you lack established working relationships and a detailed understanding of your new role.” — Michael Watkins, The First 90 Days

On the other hand, a lack of proper procedures can cost you time and money. Research by International Data Corporation found that in the United States and Britain, employees cost businesses approximately $37 billion each year because they didn’t understand their jobs. And that number represents only the costs of actions taken by employees as a result of their misunderstanding; it does not include the cost of employee turnover as a result of job confusion.

For all of those reasons — and because onboarding has a very clear set of steps you can follow — it might be one of the first functional areas of Talent Success you want to focus on.

The Talent Success Maturity Model is a framework that enables HR and talent management leaders to benchmark their organizations and design and follow a path toward recruiting and retaining more A-players to become a more competitive, more engaging, and more successful company. Learn more about the Talent Success Maturity Model.

Depending on your organization’s recruiting maturity level, the outcomes you might want to focus on can range from the early stages of maturity (e.g., making sure you’re complying with employment laws) to full maturity (e.g., having processes in place to improve onboarding based on talent performance reviews and other measures).

Building a Library of Onboarding Assets

As part of carrying out the workflows associated with onboarding, you’ll want to gradually develop a standard library of content assets that you can use consistently with every new hire. Many of these assets will exist for all maturity levels of onboarding (every company needs to be sure new hires complete federally required identification and tax paperwork). Other types of assets may be introduced starting only at Level 2 or 3, as your organization develops the necessary infrastructure and skills to support their application.

In addition to the variety of government and provider-specific forms and documents your new hires will need to receive, the following assets will also be used:

  • Onboarding welcome letter and/or video script
  • Onboarding goal template
  • Quality-of-onboarding assessment

This chapter offers articles for best practices to help any company build a repeatable, effective onboarding process. Other articles will follow and refer to higher levels of onboarding maturity. For now, we offer best practices to help HR build processes to consistently:

Ensure compliance with labor and employment laws

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Build an effective, repeatable new-hire process

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