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HR Experts share the importance of Onboarding and Offboarding

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Two talent acquisition specialists discussing the importance of effective onboarding and offboarding of employees

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Onboarding can make or break an employee’s experience with a company. 

A CareerBuilder and Silkroad Technology study found over two-thirds (69%) of employees are likely to stay at a company for at least three years if they have a good onboarding experience. The same study found 9% of employees left a company due to poor onboarding.

On the other end of the employee lifecycle is offboarding: a process that begins once an employee hands in their resignation. 

Like onboarding, offboarding can influence how an employee feels about your company.

A positive offboarding experience can influence how an employee speaks about your business and increases the likelihood of them returning to your company in the future.

Xref recently hosted an in-person seminar in Melbourne on ‘Effective Onboarding and Offboarding.’ At the event, six HR experts shared their insights and strategies for creating effective onboarding and offboarding programs. 

Photographs of panel members of Xref's seminar in Melbourne on ‘Effective Onboarding and Offboarding.’

The seminar involved two panel discussions. The first panel discussed the general state of onboarding and offboarding, while the second dove into specific strategies HR managers can use to improve their programs. 

This blog will dive into the key takeaways from the first panel, which featured three speakers: Mia Baldock, Talent Acquisition Manager at Vicinity Centres, Rosa Van Kuyk, Executive Recruitment and Careers Partner at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and Ana-Maria Micallef, General Manager: People and Culture at Racing.com Media. Sarah Mulvenna, Xref’s Director of Revenue, moderated the session. 

All three speakers shared their insights into onboarding and offboarding, discussing why each process is important in today’s hybrid world. 

Here are their insights into why strong onboarding and offboarding processes are crucial for organisations today. 

A strong onboarding experience sets employees up for success

A great onboarding experience sets an employee up for success. After onboarding, an employee should better know their role, teammates, company culture and essential workplace policies and procedures. 

When a company provides a great onboarding experience, 69% of employees are likely to stay for at least three years. 

Plus, the better the onboarding, the quicker employees reach full productivity. A Harvard Business Review article reported systematic onboarding brings new employees up to speed 50% faster.

The panel of highly experiences HR professionals agreed there’s no firm answer regarding how long onboarding should last. 

The length of an onboarding journey varies in organisations and depends on job role and seniority. A junior administrative assistant may get up to speed in just one week, whereas a new executive usually needs more time to get to know their team members and work processes.

Organisations should assess their onboarding processes in the context of the jobs they are hiring for and adjust them to suit. 

Employees have different expectations since the pandemic 

Employee expectations have changed since Covid-19. The Great Resignation that followed the pandemic shows people want to work for organisations that treat them well and have their best interests at heart. 

The move to remote work during the pandemic also prompted organisations to rethink the employee onboarding process. It’s likely that most managers want to provide a memorable, inclusive and welcoming experience for their newest employees even though workforces have been scattered. 

The result is that many employees now expect better onboarding experiences as part of the norm. 

Use technology to reimagine onboarding 

Mia’s experience as a Talent Acqusition Manager allowed her to share her experiences that in a hybrid world, organisations have to reimagine onboarding (if they haven’t already). A great onboarding experience starts with a ‘pre-board’, which is the period between the offer acceptance and a candidate’s first day. 

Candidates should be made to feel a part of the team as soon as they accept a job offer. Their experience with the formalities should be easy. If you’re still sending long contracts in the mail before a candidate’s first day, you may not be providing the best experience. 

Rosa from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority explained that since the pandemic, many candidates expect more technology-driven pre-boarding and onboarding programs. 

Those expectations are higher if the role you are hiring for is remote or hybrid. 

The way you use technology during onboarding indicates how your organisation may communicate day-to-day. 

If your onboarding process leaves employees feeling isolated and confused, the new hires could assume working in your organisation would leave them feeling the same way. 

When onboarding is digitally driven, personalisation, where possible, significantly impacts the employee experience. 

Personalisation can involve custom welcome messages, delivering an employee their favourite snacks and tailoring onboarding specifically around an employee’s new role and preferred learning style. 

Rosa Van Kuyk uses Enboarder at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority to digitise parts of a candidate’s onboarding experience. 

With Enboarder, staff can send candidates’ welcome videos, plan coffee catch-ups and organise training presentations. Employees can use their phones or computer to keep track of their onboarding schedule and connect with their new team. 

During the panel discussion, Rosa explained that in a hybrid environment, a good onboarding process consists of a mix of in-person and virtual events. 

A hybrid approach can be more time-effective and meaningful if mapped out well.

For example, a new staff member’s initial meetings with supervisors and coworkers can be done in person, whereas independent research, policy reviews and some training can be done remotely.

“The human element of onboarding is very important. Consider an employee’s end-to-end experience starting with the recruitment process.” Mia Baldock, Talent Acquisition Manager at Vicinity Centres

Offboarding is as important as onboarding 

Offboarding is a process that begins as soon as an employee resigns. The panel agrees organisations tend to overlook this process, but they shouldn’t. 

Offboarding is a critical time for employers and exiting employees. 

Mia said, “Offboarding is as important as onboarding. The right process helps keep alumni talent as a strong talent pool for the future.” 

In many industries, boomerang employees, those who leave an organisation but then return, are highly desired. For example, staff shortages in the healthcare industry mean qualified candidates are always in demand. 

There are three main reasons why organisations should take offboarding more seriously. 

  1. Offboarding ties up loose ends. An offboarding checklist helps ensure an appropriate handover is completed, feedback is obtained, and equipment is returned. 
  2. Employers can identify areas for improvement. Offboarding allows employers to evaluate both the role and the individual, a process that can help new hires do better in the future. 
  3. The door can remain open. A well-structured offboarding helps employees leave with a positive impression. Former employees can still be advocates by sharing positive reviews, recommending jobs to others, and speaking well of your organisation. 
Xref branded graphic with quote (above) by Mia Baldock, Talent Acquisition Manager at Vicinity Centres

Alumni can help reduce talent shortages in a tight market 

All our experts agree that great offboarding is vital in a candidate-short market where alumni, or boomerang employees, can be very valuable in helping reduce talent shortages. 

The panel recommends exit surveys, or exit interviews, to gather feedback from departing employees.

Asking for feedback is a good idea because it shows employees you care about their experience. Leaders can use this feedback to make positive organisational changes and improve role requirements, if needed. 

During an exit survey, employers can ask if employees want to be added to a talent pool or alumni newsletter. Employees who opt in can keep a strong tie with their former workplace and are more likely to return if the right opportunity calls! 

Xref offers automated Exit Surveys, and a key feature of our solution is talent pooling, where we offer departing employees the opportunity to opt-in to be contacted if they wish to hear about future job opportunities.

“Data is your friend. If you can obtain and track data, it will help with decision-making and ensuring a good employee experience.” Ana-Maria Micallef, General Manager: People and Culture at Racing.com Media. 

Creating positive offboarding experiences 

As with onboarding, a positive offboarding experience will take the employee experience into account and apply the right blend of technology and human interaction. 

Formalities like returning equipment and receiving holiday pay should be made easy for the employee to navigate. Conducting an exit interview can be done in person or through a digital format. 

It’s important to remember that employees may prefer the anonymity a digital option provides, and you may find they are more forthcoming with insights and feedback when not put on the spot.

Overall, be sure to recognise the departing employee’s contribution to your organisation. Celebrate their wins, provide any relevant feedback and leave the door open for a potential return. 

Xref branded graphic with quote (above) by Ana-Maria Micallef, GM People and Culture at Racing.com Media

Final thoughts  

With over 60 attendees, Xref was delighted to have gathered a large and diverse group of HR and Talent Acquisition professionals in Melbourne to discuss effective onboarding and offboarding. The expert speakers brought a range of opinions and insights for a rich discussion. 

The findings from the event uncovered that employee onboarding and offboarding are crucial moments in the talent journey. An effective onboarding process sets employees up for success and can lead to stronger retention. 

A well-run offboarding program collects valuable feedback for employees and can help leave employees with a good impression of your organisation. This opens the door to an employee returning and makes it more likely a former staffer will speak highly of your organisation.

If you are interested in attending or speaking at a future Xref event in your city, contact your dedicated Xref representative today. Or if there is a particular topic you would like to hear more about, please let us know.

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