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3 Customer Onboarding Best Practices To Elevate Your New Hire Experience

By Colleen Blake | 3-min read

One of the most critical points in a business’ relationship with customers is the beginning. That’s because the early relationship is vulnerable. Consider, for example, that mobile apps typically lose around 80% of their users within a week of download. Because they need to quickly demonstrate their value and connect customers to the brand, marketing and customer experience teams have spent time optimizing their customer onboarding processes to retain as many customers as possible.

First impressions are equally important with employees. In a recent survey, a staggering 30% of respondents indicated that they had left a job within the first 90 days. And according to research by SHRM, half of hourly workers leave new jobs within 120 days. This turnover has a significant impact on business productivity and success. As a result, many leaders are looking for ways to keep new employees engaged and connected long-term.

And many are finding that the old ways of connecting with employees aren’t working anymore. That’s because the nature of employment has transformed in recent years. The evidence is all around: consider the rise of “gig” work and increasingly de-centralized workforces (enabled by technology). Today’s employees are using multiple devices, from many different locations, and their routines often vary day-to-day.

What it means to work has changed—and so has the employer-employee relationship. Gone is the paternalistic relationship of the past: employees today want to be treated like customers. The lines between “work” and “personal” life have blurred, and employees expect consumer-like work experiences.

In light of these new expectations, it makes sense to consider how best practices from customer onboarding could improve employee onboarding. Here are three principles you can apply to up-level your new hire experience:

Emphasize—and Re-emphasize—Your (Employee) Value Proposition

Leading businesses don’t assume that once a new customer makes a purchase that their business will continue indefinitely. They nurture customer relationships and build loyalty by continually reminding customers of the value their products or services provide. Car companies, for example, often send new buyers materials after the sale to reinforce their decision and stave off buyer’s remorse.

Many companies excel at communicating their employee value proposition during the recruiting process. But in the transition from candidate to new employee, the message often gets lost. As with customers, however, longer-term loyalty requires reiterating the employee value proposition during onboarding and throughout the employee lifecycle. As you think about the key milestones for your new hires, ensure that at every stage, they’re able to see why the company is a great place to work and answer the question: what’s in it for me?

Focus on the Employee Journey

Leading businesses design their customer onboarding experiences around the customer’s needs. What this means is: rather than optimizing customer onboarding for efficiency or profitability, they focus on enabling the customer to achieve success with their product as quickly as possible. At software companies, customer support teams frequently hold webinars and training sessions to ensure that customers are using the product and seeing success quickly.

Traditionally, new hire onboarding has been all about the company: its processes, its policies, its paperwork, its people. That’s all important and necessary, of course. But leading employers avoid draining new employees’ energy with a 2-day data dump. Instead, they drip out important information in digestible chunks over time using a campaign format. This method frees up more time for the new employee to get up to speed in their role and make an impact quickly. And it allows you to reinforce information over time and engage new employees in a sustained way.

Personalize the Experience

Personalized consumer experiences, like shopping and entertainment (think Amazon and Netflix) have created an expectation that all of our experiences will be customized. Marketers know this, and they build trust with new customers by providing relevant information and offers based on what they know about them (purchase history, demographic information, etc.) If you’ve shopped online recently, you probably know that after an initial purchase, e-commerce sites are likely to send you a list of suggested purchases based on what you bought.

It works the same for employees. Early interactions with new employees are the time to show them that they can trust you to provide tailored and relevant experiences, messages, and information. With this expectation and trust established, they’ll continue to engage with you—and see the value in their relationship with your business—as time moves on.

Creating a Consumer-Grade Onboarding Experience

There’s no turning back the tide on change: consumerized employment is here. To survive, businesses need to rethink their people strategies, often by looking to best-in-class customer strategies. Today’s employees have many options and opportunities at their fingertips, making it especially important to create a sticky relationship early on. To get off on the right foot and keep new employees onboard, consider borrowing best practices from marketing and customer experience playbooks. By reiterating value over time and providing customized, employee-centric experiences, you may just find that you have more connected, happier employees that are also more productive over the long haul.