Marathon Starter Image credit pixabay/compositaIn the race to acquire talent, HR focus in recent years has understandably fallen on improving the candidate experience through digitising recruitment. And, while this is a great step forward, many organisations have not lent the same attention to employee onboarding processes.

With a new generation entering the workplace, and a fast-growing gig economy, the need to optimise onboarding is now a point of competitive difference. Organisations that don’t deliver a consumer-like digital experience for their new staff will simply struggle to keep up in the war for talent.

In addition, a recent survey of UK HR professionals by Cezanne HR revealed that as many as 63% of UK HR professionals have had employees quit before they even start. The results show that there is much work to be done in remedying the nation’s significant ‘non-starter’ syndrome.

The onboarding issues lie not just with those who quit before they start, however. Cezanne HR’s survey also revealed a staggering lack of retention across the UK workforce with almost one in five employees (19%) staying in their role for less than a year. The challenges that these statistics present in terms of organisational inefficiency and poor productivity are hard to deny. However, they do provide an opportunity: optimise your onboarding systems quickly, and you’ll start to see clear cut competitive gains as staff churn drops.

The Cost of Churn

On average, the survey found the cost of recruitment per candidate to be £1,739, versus an onboarding cost of £290 per employee. This figure represents just 17% of average recruitment expenditure. Do the maths and you’ll see how logical it seems to invest in onboarding given its proven impact on reducing churn and delivering higher return on investment.

It’s a view backed up by HR analyst firm Fosway Group. The firm indicates that UK HR leaders are, in fact, now acutely aware of the need to optimise onboarding, and are putting plans in place to improve their systems. According to Fosway, almost half (48%) of organisations are set to invest in improving their onboarding processes this year.

But while the outlook does seem more positive with organisations at least aware of the direction they need to take, what are the key factors that have led onboarding to lag behind other facets of HR in the first place? And, most importantly, how do we avoid these pitfalls in future?

The Onboarding Communications Gap

Cezanne HR’s 2018 Onboarding Survey revealed that:

  • Almost a third (31%) of ‘non-starters’ cited either a bad experience or poor or no follow up
  • 45% stated they would have liked more contact before their job started
  • 51% left their jobs within the first six months because their job role did not meet expectations

The common theme? A lack of communication.

This failure to consult and communicate comes as no surprise when you consider that as many as 87% of UK HR respondents do not yet have a web-based onboarding tool or portal. Because of this, they are caught in an impasse with only manual and obsolete onboarding processes available to them. It’s an observation that only serves to highlight the need for digitising onboarding. In the same way that performance, absence management, and career and succession planning are already widely digitised within the HR remit.

Adapting to a More Diverse Workforce

The rapidly changing nature of the UK workforce is also a key consideration for business leaders looking to modernise and optimise their onboarding systems. Cezanne HR’s survey findings also revealed that as many as 60% of gig workers either aren’t included (or organisations don’t know whether they are included) in onboarding processes. And, with Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Report indicating that the gig economy is set to grow further this year, the business visibility and retention challenges that this poses are only set to increase.

In addition to the gig economy, a third (33%) of UK HR teams are still not tailoring onboarding experiences to include those returning from extended leave, including maternity, paternity, and long-term sick leave. That represents a huge proportion of the UK workforce – many employees whose engagement will quickly wane if they feel a track record of high performance has been forgotten due to a temporary, and fully justified, absence. In these instances, proper onboarding of returners is absolutely key to talent retention.

The path to improving onboarding for the greater good of new recruits and business outcomes is a no-brainer. Still, with only 17% of respondents describing their onboarding processes as ‘best in class’, we’re not there yet. Start by improving communication, and ensure you are including your entire workforce, irrespective of their role, geography or contract terms. Next, combine this with a comprehensive onboarding tool that meet the needs of your organisation, and you’ll set yourself in good stead to put an end to costly ‘non-starters’ and ongoing churn.

Cezanne HR logoCezanne HR is a UK HR Software leader for mid-sized international organisations, providing a modern, secure Cloud HR system that lets companies quickly and effectively digitise, streamline and improve human resources management. Covering the full employee lifecycle, Cezanne HR’s online service includes integrated modules for core HR, recruitment, onboarding, absence and performance management, timesheets and career and succession planning, together with an open API and integrations with leading third-party solutions.

With customers ranging from large multi-nationals to UK-focused charities and not-for-profits, and reflecting decades of experience working with HR professionals worldwide, Cezanne HR is purposely designed to be exceptionally quick to deploy and easy to manage, taking out cost and complexity without sacrificing the flexibility or depth of features required to support complex and changing HR needs.


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