Today’s economic uncertainty and ongoing labor shortage are driving learning and development (L&D) professionals to prioritize driving employee retention and engagement to better safeguard their organizations’ success.

That said, retention efforts can’t start when employees are already seeking new positions. Onboarding can play a crucial role in the length of time employees stay with employers and their overall satisfaction with their company — whether they work in person or remotely. With this in mind, it’s critical that employers view onboarding as the first building block in their company’s efforts to maintain engagement throughout the employee lifecycle.

In this article, we’ll review some best practices managers can use to improve their onboarding process.

To optimize onboarding to increase employee retention, managers should consider:

  • Soliciting feedback and support from current employees. When updating your onboarding processes, current employees in similar roles or those who have previously held the same role can help managers identify opportunities to improve the process. Pairing new hires with tenured employees in similar roles can help increase confidence and engagement during onboarding. In fact, providing a buddy can help boost productivity and employee satisfaction, ensuring successful onboarding.
  • Prioritizing pertinent information. Make sure your onboarding materials lead with and emphasize the most important information and clearly communicate key takeaways and resources that can help them along the way. It may seem obvious, however, according to a Paychex survey, 56% of workers reported feeling disoriented after their most recent onboarding experience.
  • Making new hires feel welcome. Ensuring teammates and managers are friendly and helpful can go a long way. In the survey above, the top three out of five factors for improving onboarding (creating an epic welcome, getting the team involved and assigning a buddy or mentor) involved current employees participating in the process.
  • Streamlining administrative tasks with technology. Administrative tasks like filling out tax forms or signing nondisclosure and employment agreements can quickly overwhelm new workers who are already experiencing information overload.
  • Diversifying the experience. Everyone learns in different ways, so offering onboarding options through a blend of modalities can help support better experiences. Making sure your program includes presentations, written guides, conversations and other types of engagement opportunities can help every worker have access to an experience that works for them.
  • Investing in technologies that help workers thrive. Using modern, cloud-based platforms can help ensure every employee has access to necessary information and documents from their first day on the job to their last. This will be especially important as worker demographics shift to more digital natives: Generation Z and millennials are more likely to expect modern technology options for onboarding and beyond.
  • Ensuring remote workers’ needs are met. According to the Paychex survey, remote employees tend to fare worse in onboarding than their in-office counterparts. In fact, 63% say they feel undertrained for their role while only 38% of on-site workers share this sentiment. As such, employers should pay special attention to the tools and methods that help them. Virtual shadowing, online meet-and-greets, welcome packages and technology training can all work to make remote new hires feel more comfortable.
  • Offering continuous learning beyond onboarding. Employers should offer learning beyond the first 90 days, at all stages of the employee lifecycle. This can ensure employees continue to grow in their roles and stay with the company longer. According to a TalentLMS study, 76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, and 86% of human resources (HR) managers find training beneficial for employee retention. Lifelong learning gives employees the opportunity to grow in their roles and qualify for newer roles within the organization.

By reviewing and refreshing onboarding procedures, employers are setting themselves up for long-term success. First impressions can define a worker’s experience with an employer, coloring their interactions until the day they leave. By offering a comprehensive and thoughtful experience, managers can help ensure new hires become integral team members for years to come.