Can Startups Onboard and Should They?

Guest post by James Burbank, editor in chief at BizzMarkBlog

If you are not really feeling like reading too much following the holiday season, the short answers to the questions posed in the title of this article are yes and yes.

For those who want to learn more about onboarding as a practice startups can and should employ, we will start by explaining what onboarding is.

Onboarding 101

Onboarding (or induction as it is also called) has traditionally been described as a process through which a new hire is provided with the knowledge, training and skills that will allow them to become a productive member of an organization of some kind.

The goal of onboarding is to improve job satisfaction and performance, as well as reduce employee turnover through providing better professional integration

Over the years and especially online, onboarding has grown into more than this and it now also entails a social and engagement facets. In short, the onboarding we will be talking about involves both the "traditional" professional training and the more personal and social acclimatization to a company.

In our case, a startup.

Why Onboarding Is Important

We already touched upon it, but there are numerable statistics that actually show how important onboarding is for new hires and the companies that start employing them.

According to O.C. Tanner, almost 70% of employees are more likely to stay with a company after three years if they have been onboarded properly.  According to Harvard Business Review, almost a third of all new hires begin looking for a new job within the first 6 months with their new company. The same article also mentions that it usually takes eight months for a newly hired employee to become fully productive. As you can see, the math gets a bit tricky here. If you want more numbers like this, check out this great list of onboarding statistics.

Onboarding not only enables companies to benefit from their new hires as soon as possible, but it also improves employee engagement and dramatically reduces employee turnover which is becoming one of the biggest "hidden costs" of the modern world of business.

It becomes quite clear that startups definitely should do onboarding.

Is Startup Onboarding Possible?

It is near impossible to view startups as you would other companies when it comes to HR. I wrote about startups and HR earlier this year and I mentioned how it can be difficult to worry about standard HR practices in a startup. That being said, I also mentioned how employees are actually much more important for startups than for other businesses.

Therefore, it would really pay off for startups to try and do at least some onboarding when they hire new people.

This is especially possible once the startup has some sort of an established day-to-day operation and it is bringing on totally new people who were not there when it started its life. These people should and can be onboarded to a certain extent.

For example, startups will be very willing to use software that makes things more streamlined onboarding-wise. For instance, digital signatures and paperwork automation will be a common part of the startup onboarding experience, and for the better.

When it comes to getting the training needed, new hires will probably be inundated with material and they will be given very short time to go over it. One thing is for sure, startup onboarding will be more challenging and chaotic.

Once they start working, they will find that the pretty schedule maker the startup uses already includes their name across the board. This can seem a bit too much to some people, but when we are talking integration and onboarding, this type of early belonging to a team and a "baptism by fire" approach can actually be beneficial.

It will definitely be an extraordinary onboarding experience, but there is one thing that must not be rushed or overlooked – feedback. This has to be bidirectional feedback and everyone involved needs to listen. It is the essential part of the early employee experience, startup or no startup.

Closing Word

Startups can and should onboard. It will be a super-lean and very chaotic version of a traditional onboarding process, but it can provide the same benefits as the more pedestrian version of this useful HR practice.