Agriculture Forum: Onboarding for success Business

The Associated PressBy Stan Moore

Bringing your employees (co-workers) “On Board” is key to reducing turnover and improving productivity.

Many employers think of onboarding and employee orientation as one in the same. However, while orientation is usually done in the first few days, onboarding can last from a few weeks to several months. Onboarding goes beyond teaching the person how to do the job, it focuses on coaching them and setting them up to be successful in their job.

In her article “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success,” Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D., shares how employers can gauge the success of their onboarding process, and the importance of becoming proactive in your businesses ’onboarding of new employees.

Dr. Bauer describes Proactive Onboarding as covering not only job compliance and some job clarification, but also helping employees understand the business culture, connecting with their peers and their direct supervisor, and coaching them on their part in being successful in their new role.

Wondering whether your onboarding program would be considered proactive? Proactive Onboarding is evidenced by: employees understanding the job (competence); employees understanding their role and how it contributes to the business’ success; employees connecting with other employees and their direct supervisor; employees working successfully within the culture of the organization.

Let’s face it, all of us want to feel like we are competent in our jobs. We don’t like it when we are put in a situation where we don’t have the knowledge and skills to be successful. When an employee has competence in their job, they will be more satisfied in their job and we as employers feel more comfortable giving them the independence to do their job. Additionally, our research (Impacts of employer management on employee recruitment, satisfaction, and retention on large US dairy farms, by Moore et al. Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 103 No. 9, 2020) shows that employees that are given the independence to do their job, are more likely to intend to stay with their current employer.

Helping employees understand their role and how it contributes to the business ‘success are key factors in employees’ job satisfaction. Our research showed that employees were 1.57 times more likely to be satisfied in their job if they had clear goals and directions. Employees need to not only know the protocols for their job, but also the “why” behind those protocols and how those protocols impact business productivity and profitability.

There’s an old adage that employees hire on your company because of your reputation, and they leave because of their relationship with their direct supervisor. Part of your onboarding process needs to include making sure new employees have a positive working relationship with their team members and direct supervisor. Our research shows that these relationships are key to both employee job satisfaction and their intention to remain with their current employer. In fact, employees who reported a better relationship with their employer were 2.2 more likely to be satisfied in their job and 1.6 times more likely to stay with their current employer!

According to Bauer, the fourth and final area of ​​a proactive onboarding program is “knowledge of and fit within an organizational culture.” For some businesses, identifying the current culture needs to happen before we can begin to help employees in this area. One way to look at culture is to determine “how we talk, interact, and work together to get the job done.” Once you determine your business culture, you can decide if that is the culture you want and intend to have, and if not, begin to make some changes. Only then can you really help your employees know how to be successful within that culture.

In her paper, Bauer shares the novel idea of ​​sharing with employees what they can do to maximize onboarding success. Here are a few suggestions for employees to take ownership of:

  • Invest in relationship development
  • Seek feedback
  • Show success early on
  • Gather information – be a learner

How does your business’ onboarding measure up? Would you say that it is well planned out and “proactive”? If not, I would encourage you to spend time this spring / summer, working to build on the four components of a successful, proactive onboarding program. Time spent in this area will help you improve upon your business’ productivity, and profitability, while you build a dedicated team of co-workers.

The Rich Stup of Cornell University Extension has put together a great set of resources around onboarding for farmers. I encourage you to check them out at:

Stan Moore is a Michigan State University Extension Farm Business Management Educator.


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