Getting Onboarding

Onboarding is a human resource (HR) practice gaining traction throughout the ag industry. This is a process focused on engaging new hires in their job and helping them understand and embrace overall company vision. However, many of us in the retail agronomy business are left asking a simpler question: “How do I get this new employee in the saddle, trained on how we do things and generating a return, fast?”

The answer to the question is through an onboarding process built to help the employee learn a lot in a short period of time. The ability to make a new employee “stick” can often be tied to what they learned (or didn’t learn) during their first three months on the job. A number of organizations, both in and out of ag, have studied employee departures. A study done by Monster.com found that 30% of new hires depart their company within two years. At an average of 25% of annual salary to replace that employee, the costs can really add up!

Engagement Is Key

Clear onboarding processes will provide a new employee with the training and resources they need to fully engage them in the role and company culture. An engaged employee understands their role, believes in the culture and future of the company, is energized to do their job, and overall a much more successful long-term employee. To create an energized employee, your onboarding process needs to include the following five components.

The first component in a successful onboarding program starts before they are even an employee. It begins with the very first “touch” of the candidate, whether it’s on campus, at a trade show or in the field. In high performance organizations, everyone becomes a recruiter for the company. The first impression your organization makes on this future employee will set the stage for their desire and attitude during the onboarding process.

Pre-hire onboarding requirements will include compelling job postings, prompt follow up by interviewers and a professional presentation of the organization. The offer itself is even part of the onboarding process. Know your candidate and make an effort to present an offer that will be accepted without negotiations. We have heard many stories of clients hiring someone, negotiating hard on the compensation to keep costs down and getting a disengaged employee on day one.

Now that you have an accepted offer the first day needs to be handled appropriately in the second component. You never get a second chance to capitalize on first day excitement, so make Day One special! Most new hires decide whether they made a good decision during their first week on the new job. Someone should greet them when they arrive and start by sharing their startup plan and answering any questions they may have. This is also a good time to take the new hire through the company’s mission, vision and goals and more importantly, how their role ties into where the company is going.

A key component to this initial meeting is to share with them who their mentor is. This mentor, or “Go-To” person, is critical for the new hire to be able to ask questions. If there is a “secret sauce” to onboarding, most HR professionals will tell you it is a mentor to the new hire. Tom Nelson, the vice president of HR for Farmers Cooperative Co. in Ames, IA, said: “An HR representative can make sure the employee has all the paperwork done and is ready for day one, but a mentor is a critical component of the onboarding process. A mentor enables that employee to successfully learn their role on a day-to-day basis.”

Tools Set Up

The third component is usually the easiest to make happen but the most overlooked by our clients — tools! The new hires’ desk, phone, computer, cell phone, vehicle, etc., need to be ready on Day One, with all accounts ready to go. Preparation will be noticed and greatly appreciated by the new hire, but it’s the lack of preparation that will immediately question the decision they have made. Nelson believes that this part of onboarding “can be handled by an administrative level person because it is generally a list that needs to be completed, but most organizations fail here because no one is responsible for the list.”

Our fourth onboarding component is a three-legged stool that consists of the hiring manager, HR and a mentor. These individuals must be in constant contact with the new hire to answer their questions and provide ongoing encouragement through the starting process. This prevents the employee from ever feeling “lost” or confused, and will make a big difference in the attitude of the employee. Everyone in the three-legged stool should initially check with the employee on at least a weekly basis to evaluate progress against a training plan and answer questions. The time between check-ups can stretch longer over time, but this group needs to continually make sure all HR issues are taken care of and that the new hire is assimilating into the organization and learning what they need to do. An ongoing system of feedback and continuous improvement is the goal.

Our last component is dogged determination. Most new hires will tell you that it takes 12 to 18 months to completely understand everything about their role in a company. How long is your orientation and onboarding process? Does it match the 12 to 18 month needs of your new employees? Don’t discount this length of time. Stay determined to answer questions and coach the candidate past the challenges they may face as the expectations and demands of the role increase.

Onboarding may not sound like rocket science, but it’s the little things that put the rocket on the right course to success. As recruiters, we know which companies have strong onboarding processes, because our candidates succeed and don’t call us frustrated with lack of direction or confusion. To retain your best, hire right and onboard through a process that sets them up to succeed.

Leave a Reply

Employees Stories

EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More
EmployeesHead Start Program Prepares The Next Generation Of Ag Retailers
April 7, 2014
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, in partnership with the Asmark Institute, are offering the Head Start Program to prepare students for work at ag retail facilities. Read More
EmployeesThree Keys To Employee Success
March 3, 2014
Increasing employee performance becomes much easier when managers follow these three simple things. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More