As organizations search for opportunities to maximize the Return on Investment (ROI) of their workforce, the one process that is often overlooked is onboarding. Despite business leaders investing a lot in their organization and expecting a tangible return on their investments, sadly, the onboarding experience is often reduced to little more than a checklist of orientation tasks to be completed in the first week.
For sure, an effective orientation is just one critical component of a robust and complete firmwide onboarding program.
Many leaders fail to leverage that an employee who experiences a smoother onboarding process will be better trained, more connected to the organization and quicker to produce.
Your decision-makers need to know their resources are being put to good use, and with the right metrics at your disposal, you can deliver the information they're looking for. After all, the key to making the case for future resource allocation lies in being able to illustrate the effectiveness of your onboarding process.
Establish a Baseline for Measuring Onboarding ROI
The biggest obstacle many HR departments struggle to overcome is establishing a baseline for how their organization will assess ROI. Fact: Evaluating the value of an enhanced HR process is not always a straightforward process. As such, spending time with leadership to establish a baseline for measuring ROI is invaluable.
There are a few key concepts to keep in mind when establishing your baseline to measure ROI:
- Onboarding should be consistent. All of your data collection will be for naught unless you can roll out a universal process for onboarding new hires.
- The onboarding process is more than a checklist. Though checklists are great for staying organized, your new hires' success depends on your ability to get them connected to your organization and keep them connected beyond their first day.
- The onboarding process goes beyond the first week. Though the average probationary period for new hires is 90 days, The Wynhurst Group reports 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment.
How to Brave the Metrics Madness
After identifying what information will be most valuable, you can implement tracking strategies. Keep in mind that some of the data you measure won't be cold, hard facts that fit nicely into a spreadsheet. That said, there are three areas you can focus on for information: performance, experience and effectiveness. Also, broaden your scope beyond your new hires to measure the impact at various levels (team, department, organization). Here are a few ideas of what you can measure on an employee, team and organizational level:
Performance: Progress milestones, Change in overall productivity, Headcount vs. output
Experience: Employee satisfaction, Impact on team morale, Cultural fit vs. retention
Effectiveness: New hire time to proficiency/productivity, New hire time to proficiency/productivity vs. team average, Impact on retention (both resignations and terminations)
For Maximum ROI, Take Engagement Beyond Onboarding
The best metrics should be forward-thinking analytics tools. According to Dr. John Sullivan, "They tell you who's going to win the Superbowl next year, not who won last year." Furthermore, they should provide the information you need to win the Superbowl every year.
At the end of the day, your ROI is answering one question above all: What is the value of onboarding new employees more effectively? Here's a hint: Take a look at your metrics and note improvements in employee performance, time to proficiency/productivity and increased retention. Once you can answer that question, move onto the next question: "How can we maximize the value of a better-onboarded employee?"
One way you can maximize this value is to keep the momentum going. Many organizations do this is by leveraging the tools and technology found in talent management systems to better manage the process of engaging and motivating their employees. Beyond core talent management functionality, these systems also offer reporting analytics and dashboard elements that provide the information you need to support your ROI analysis.
However you choose to keep the momentum going, rest assured that the rewards are what I continuously strive for when working with clients on their onboarding process: creating a workplace where everything clicks!