Who should manage the process of onboarding new hires?

A question we get asked quite regularly on panel discussions, webinars and podcasts is: 

Who should manage the onboarding process and check it’s happening? Managers, HR, Recruitment, or someone else entirely? 

It’s a good question to ask, after all if you don’t know who is responsible for the process how can you make sure that it is being used well and bringing the most benefit to your organisation. We all know the difference that giving the best experience can make to a business in terms of productivity, culture and increased retention of staff so it is an important piece to get right.

The question of who is responsible can sometimes be the root cause of an onboarding process that has fallen through the gaps. Everyone connected to the new hire has some responsibility in the process and someone who knows how everything should be done has to take control of it to make sure it all happens. We typically see the best fit for that within the Recruitment or HR teams, although if you have significant volumes it could be worth dedicating a specific resource to this process. 

It is important to make sure that managers are involved in the process and give them visibility of what their new hire is doing but with the best will in the world their focus and time might not be best placed chasing for desks, equipment or uniforms. Managers are typically a good resource to help facilitate the integration into the team; doing things like assigning a good buddy, organising team activities and timetabling shadowing sessions for example.

If you burden managers with the operational parts of the process too then the integration part might get missed or things might not be ready for day one as they concentrate on other responsibilities they have. In fact in a 2019 survey 81% of new hires said they had not felt integrated into the team two weeks into their new job and 42% said that equipment was not ready on day one.

If we argue and debate who should be looking after the onboarding process then ultimately no one will. It will be treated as a low priority as it gets passed down the chain and the process will fall down, and ultimately someone will leave as a result. And all that achieves is throwing away all of the investment that was made in recruiting them in the first place, making the argument on who should do things a waste of time.

Decide who is responsible for oversight of the process, who is picking up each part, get everyone involved who needs to be in there, and, most importantly, make it simple to keep track of. Show everyone the benefit of doing employee onboarding well and the business will benefit as a result.

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