The 13 Hard and Fast Rules of Great Onboarding Programs

True or false: Successful onboarding programs are difficult to come by and even more difficult to implement.

Answer? False.

If you chose "true," don't feel bad. Most companies would agree with you. They think of onboarding as little more than extra tasks for their already over-stuffed to-do lists.

And to make matters worse, even when organizations are open to the idea of onboarding programs, they aren't really sure where to start. So they delay making decisions, which only intensifies each new hire's pain points. What these organizations don't realize is that onboarding solutions are necessary, they're out there, and they don't need to be as time-consuming and expensive to put together as we've been lead to believe.

In fact, companies with standard onboarding processes experience 50 percent higher rates of new hire retention – which translates into huge savings later on down the road.

If you're ready to learn how you can build your own money-saving, retention-boosting onboarding program, take a look at these 13 hard and fast rules of all successful onboarding programs.

1. Each Stakeholder Should Know What Is Expected of Them

This doesn't mean you have to put together super-detailed documents, but you do need to outline the responsibilities of each person involved in the onboarding process.

For example, the individual chosen to be the new hire's guide needs to understand that they are expected to show the new hire where the coffee is, where all bathrooms and emergency exits are located, and how to get to the amazing little curry place everyone loves. Similarly, the new hire's manager should be responsible for setting up a goal meeting within the first two weeks to determine the new hire's KPIs.

2. New Employees Should Arrive on Day One Ready to be Productive

Laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and phones need to be up and operational before the new hire walks through the door. Take it a step further and ensure that all email addresses and aliases have been created, all paperwork has been completed via onboarding software, and that a schedule is in place so you can give your new hire an idea of what their first day(s) will look like.

Essentially, if your new hire spends their first day feeling "in the way" or "useless," then your onboarding solution isn't working.

3. Implement a Formal Process for Soliciting New Hire Feedback

Do you survey your new hires? Do they have the ability to point out inefficiencies in the onboarding process and help make it better for the next set of new employees? If not, add a feedback step to the onboarding process.

4. Map Specific Competency Requirements or Development Plans

How will your new employees know how their work impacts their team, department, or customers if it's not something they can see? Mapping goals allows frustrated and confused new hires to become excited and dynamic contributors.

5. Connect Onboarding to Profitability

With great onboarding come great changes in your profitability. Your new hires will become more productive more quickly, your retention rates will spike, and your overall work environment will improve. You'll also see your experienced employees contributing more, sharing more, and learning new skills. Just make sure that as you see all of these benefits bubble to the surface, you're tying these results back to your initial onboarding investment.

6. Support Your New Employees' Transitions Into Their Roles

Obviously! But do you really know how to do this? If you can't clearly show that your onboarding program delivers this kind of value, then you need to examine how you can make the transition easier for new employees. Solicit feedback from those who have been through your onboarding program.

7. Align Skill Development With the New Role

If you're a progressive company that hires for fit over skills, great! Just make sure you include skills development (and goals!) in the onboarding program. It's not fair to ask a not-yet-skilled worker to hit the same goals as someone who's skilled but still new. Consider incorporating a learning management system or knowledge base into your onboarding platform and process.

8. Increase Speed-to-Productivity

If your employee onboarding program slows everyone down and frustrates new employees, it's doing the polar opposite of what it should be doing. Never invest in an onboarding solution that stymies the growth of new workers. Get the boring paperwork out of the way so new hires can work on becoming productive!

9. Create a Bond Between New Employees and the Employer

Aligning job goals with overall organizational goals is one way to do this. Creating a

"welcome buddy" system is another. Giving away swag or taking the new hire out to lunch can also help. How does your program incorporate the new employee into your company?

10. Immerse New Employees in the Company's Culture

Have you told your newest employee about the unwritten rules of your company? Do they know where the bagels are when the delivery guy brings them? Are they aware that meetings are frowned upon before 10 A.M.? Could they recite your organizational values and goals? If not, then you haven't really immersed them in the culture.

11. Connect New Hires to the Success of the Company

This should happen as early as the job advertisement and continue through to the onboarding phase. How does the new hire impact your company through their role? How does their job make a difference?

12. Help New Employees Feel Sure About the Decision They've Made

It's a job seeker's market out there – and even when it wasn't as competitive, it was still hard to find great talent. Cutting the new hire off the second you get a "yes" is the worst thing you can do to make them feel secure and productive in the new office. Take the time to integrate them into the company, and they'll be more inclined to stay.

13. Increase the Likelihood That New Hires Will Informally Recruit Others

If your new employee is happy with the onboarding process and the new job, then they will be happy to share that information with friends, family, and even former coworkers. Hello, employee referrals!

See, that wasn't so bad, was it? Hammering out the details so that your new employee onboarding program is successful will be just as easy. Get your ducks in a row, follow these rules, and start onboarding new employees with some confidence!

A version of this article originally appeared on the Click Boarding blog.

Christine Marino is the chief revenue officer at Click Boarding.