Alex Staff Agency
Onboarding in IT: Rules & Tips
Building a structured personnel onboarding process is beneficial in any company, especially in such a complicated sphere as IT. Scroll down to see why it is useful and learn how to make it effective in your team.

What is onboarding? It's the process of getting new team members acclimated to their working place, role, and tasks. While this definition is correct, it’s incomplete. Modern trends have changed attitudes to hiring. Now onboarding starts from the first contact with the candidate and continues many weeks after the offer is accepted. The goal is to introduce specialists to a company’s culture, evaluate their skills, form the right impression, and help them better fit into the team.

This human-centric approach facilitates the hiring process and makes candidates’ life way easier. However, companies benefit no less and even more. Let’s have a closer look at its advantages, list basic stages, and touch upon a delicate topic of ethics.
Why Should Businesses Care? 3 Solid Reasons
Organizing thought-through, structured and strategic onboarding processes takes time, effort, and finances. But practice shows that the benefits exceed all investments and lead to amazing results. Check out these key statistics that speak for themselves:

1.Retention

Onboarding strengthens loyalty and decreases turnover: new hires become 18 times more committed to their employees, with 91% of them staying with the company a year later.

2.Productivity

Onboarding inconspicuously programs employees to become more engaged in their tasks and roles. As a rule, new hires reach 100% of efficiency after 8 months of work. But with the right approach, you can speed it up and reach up to 70% within the first months.

3.Money

Better retention and productivity automatically improve your bottom line. Overall costs of looking for a replacement can reach up to 200% of the person’s annual salary, so it’s nice to have talents that stay for long. Enhanced productivity launches a snowball effect: better results, higher quality of services/products, increased revenue by 2.5 times.



Onboarding Stages

All IT businesses are unique, having different workflows at their core. If you’re about to implement an effective onboarding strategy, analyze your business features and needs.

The process of acclimatizing new crew members can be divided into different stages. Here is a universal list that is a must in any company:

1.Preparing a job requisition form. It should be a structured text about the company, tasks, benefits, etc. The description is meant to hook a candidate, so it should be clear, advantageous for an IT specialist, and short. It’s better to let professionals compile it: they know what patterns work out the best.

2.Getting acquainted with candidates. It’s your first interview that should be lightweight and relaxed. Screen people for interpersonal and soft skills. We’ve already covered what for and how to do this in our article Soft Skills 2.0: A Game Changer For Companies.

3.Checking actual knowledge. It's a tech-based interview that usually takes place after/before completing a test assignment. The goal is to identify what developers can do: their languages, tools, technologies, and experience. This influences the amount of salary to offer.

4.Clearly explaining newcomers’ tasks and their roles. Provide them with a detailed description of current responsibilities and opportunities for further professional growth. Get rid of any ambiguities.

5.Meeting the rest of the crew. When the offer is made, invite colleagues for meetings, organize face-to-face conversations and encourage communication.

This is the minimum that makes onboarding what it is. However, you can make the results even better by adding advanced must-dos:

  • Map the whole process for candidates. Let them know what happens next. It’ll make both them and you more confident in what you do.

  • Be punctual. If you set up a meeting, be there. And don’t be late! This will destroy your reputation as a good manager. When you receive a completed test assignment, don’t procrastinate: respond right away (at least that you’ve seen it and will comment later).

  • Never leave new hires on their own. It’s easy to feel isolated and unwanted in a new place.

Come up with methods to engage people as much as possible and evaluate the progress they make. Assign a mentor to guide them during the entire acclimatization period.

If you want to learn more about different onboarding strategies, check out this Indeed article that offers simple advice to make the process easier. But if you want a detailed checklist, read the material prepared by Superbeings, an employee engagement and performance platform. All tips are conveniently grouped and won’t let you miss anything important.



Include Feedback in Every Stage

We had an interesting experience in our Agency, proving how critical it is to give and ask for feedback.
Once a company approached us: it needed a DevOps Engineer. We did our best and offered a promising talent who was later invited for a probation period.

When it was about to end, that candidate came to us again to find a new job. We were more than surprised: the employer didn’t seem to have problems with him and had no plans of looking for a replacement. It turned out that no one contacted the engineer to give him some feedback.
This made him think that he didn’t pass the probation period.

We dealt with the issue by talking to everyone. But, honestly, it was all out of thin air!

Anna Mikhaylichenko
Head of Accounting of Alex Staff Agency
As you see, the lack of feedback is a negative factor, especially when we talk about new hires. It can ruin what seems to be going fine. This is why we keep in touch with the talents and make sure such situations never happen again.

Statistics show that promoting feedback practices improves relationships by 91%! This, in return, has a positive impact on business processes: it reveals mistakes, improves productivity, and unites the team. Ask for and give feedback on every stage: after the first interview, technical meeting, a week at a new workplace, etc. Here are 3 general FAQs and tips that will help you do it better:

- What instruments should I use?
You can reach out to your employees directly (in an offline face-to-face setting or online through video calls) or ask them to write daily or weekly reports. They should contain information about completed/pending plans and a general impression of new tasks and duties. Encourage them to share thoughts, ideas, worries, etc. But if you want to build effective, open, and trustful relationships in your team, make sure that feedback (both from you and to you) is always well-timed, sincere, and consistent.

- How to motivate my crew members to participate in feedback practices?
Your employees should know why they’re sharing and what benefits it’ll bring them. Explain why this matters: openness allows everyone to learn new workflows faster, improves work quality, and facilitates professional growth.

- How to give feedback?
It’s vital to think your conversation through. Tell the employee its topic beforehand and speak in concrete terms. If it’s about some mistakes, use a "hamburger approach". Don’t jump at the person with bare criticism. First of all, name the advantages and achievements. Then focus on problems and finish your feedback with encouragement to develop and perform better. Most importantly, send out a message that making mistakes is totally fine. Negative feedback should not be depressing, and it’s better to give it in private conversations (2-3 people).

Maria Shukorukova, a co-founder of our agency, has helped build sustainable and highly effective onboarding processes for new employees. For her, feedback is the foundation and a connecting link for all crew members:
Feedback is what drives all workflows in our company, which is why we always use it from the very first stage of getting to know an employee. On the one hand, feedback allows us to evaluate the speed, quality, and comfortability of adaptation. We can adjust something in the process, and thus help both the employee and the mentor achieve their goals. On the other hand, onboarding reveals some bugs in general business processes. We improve them and make our work even better.
Maria Sukhorukova
Co-founder of Alex Staff Agency
2 Ways to Approach It
Doing Everything By Yourself

Some businesses prefer to build their own onboarding system, and it’s perfectly fine. It’s a challenging task, but it will be rewarded later. If you do it on your own, it’s great to use special programs to structure and monitor every stage.

The top solutions in the market in 2022 are BambooHR, Talmundo, Eddy, and other giants. They have different interfaces, but their key features are more or less the same. They aim at organizing the onboarding process that ramps people quickly and keeps them engaged.

For example, in BambooHR, you can assign newcomers to their mentors, set deadlines for tasks and events, get automatic reminders, etc. As a result, specialists always know whom they’ll meet and what they’ll need to do. This streamlined approach increases new hire satisfaction and boosts overall efficiency.

Slack is also a popular tool in 2022 for onboarding. It’s a business messaging app that has lots of useful features for successful employee acclimatization. You can create special channels for different departments, form mentoring groups, send automatic reminders, organize video calls, and do other activities to engage your team.

Delegating Tasks

Some agencies specialize in providing the best hiring and onboarding experiences. There are too many things to mind to build a truly working system. Going through the learning process on your own is expensive and lengthy. It’s way better to optimize your resources by applying to professionals.
Our clients are companies of different sizes, budgets, and requirements. They come to us because they know that it’s cheaper to find and onboard new hires with us. We have working templates on how to describe vacancies, know where to find candidates and through what channels, how to conduct screenings, etc. Our tools are thought-through, proven over time, and efficient.
Polina Semibratova
Head of Marketing in Alex Staff Agency
The best strategy is to both use automated software to guide new hires within the company and ask professional agencies to provide you with a stable flow of the most suitable talents.



How Long Should Onboarding Last?

About 20% of employee turnover occurs 45 days after hiring a specialist. So, logically, it should continue for at least 6 weeks.
We take onboarding as a key HR factor that allows us to build a united and efficient team. It should last 3+ months and include such activities as training, introduction to the role and tasks, etc. It also contributes to candidates’ self-confidence: it shows them that they’re heading in the right direction and really belong to the team.
Maria Sukhorukova
Some, however, think that this process never really ends. When the goal is to keep everyone committed, most businesses soon understand that it’s worth making most of the onboarding practices part of the working environment (regular checks, getting feedback, boosting interpersonal communication and bonds, etc.)



Onboarding Ethics

Ignoring a candidate is the number one sin that can be committed by a company (manager, recruiter): it’s a reputation killer. Write an answer to a job response even if that person doesn't fit the requirements. And never leave specialists wondering what happens next.

However, other things can also go wrong. For example, some questions may come naturally during the interview: about age, religion, criminal record, etc. But these are absolutely no-go inquiries that are considered illegal or morally unacceptable in most countries. Other topics include:

  • Citizenship status
  • Marital status
  • Race
  • Disability and illnesses
  • Etc.

But when straightforward wording is forbidden, carefully built neutral questions will help you get the information you need. For instance, if you’re looking only for candidates with citizenship of your country, it’s fine to ask “Do you have a legal permit to remain permanently in [country]?”. Follow this link to get a detailed list of stop questions grouped in convenient categories and backed with safe-to-ask alternatives.

Although the IT workforce consists largely of male specialists (for example, about 64% are male and 28% are female in the USA), the situation is gradually changing. A 2020 report by AnitaB.Org, a social enterprise supporting women in technical fields, features a promising increase by 2.9% since 2018.

So, businesses will interview ladies more in the future, and it’s vital to avoid taboo questions there as well. They’re similar to the ones mentioned above. But some interviewers may be tempted to ask women about marital status and plans for having kids, which is a complete taboo in modern society:
The worst question to ask while interviewing a female candidate is related to pregnancy. It’s discriminating and unacceptable. The same applies to men: I would also never ask a male specialist if he has a family, kids, or is planning to have them. At least not directly.
Anastasia Briukhovetskaia
Account Manager in Alex Staff Agency
Why Do Candidates Refuse Job Offers?

A recruiting company CareerPlug conducted research to find out the most frequent reasons for declining a job offer. The key factors include negative experience during the interview process, a low salary, and dissatisfaction with the role and tasks:
Interestingly, there is a correlation between the difficulty of the interview and job rejection. A study by Glassdoor proves that specialists are 2.6% more likely to accept an offer after completing a challenging technical interview.
Some companies deliberately make screening processes hard: they introduce several stages, invite 2+ interviewers, encourage cross-questions, etc. Such efforts are beneficial: they allow employers to find the best candidate and create the right reputation.
Anna Mikhaylichenko
When you find good candidates, their current employers can make a counteroffer to retain a specialist. But now the world is experiencing great migration waves, with people relocating from the East to the West, including valuable IT specialists. The number of jobseekers grows, and they don’t want to or can’t stay in their home countries no matter how well paid it is there. This is good news for employers: there will be lots of talents to choose from, as the number of jobseekers will most likely outnumber the number of vacancies.



Summing Up

Remote work and distributed teams are becoming a more widespread phenomenon. Businesses are forced to organize onboarding online, which is more complicated than in-person processes. Tackle it strategically:

  • Send a welcome letter
  • Compile a list of tasks for the first week
  • Assign other team members to be mentors: give contacts and encourage any questions
  • Etc.

Check out a detailed list in the article by Forbes to find out more about remote acclimatization practices.

We hope that this article will help you better understand how to organize an efficient onboarding process and retain talents for years to come. If you have any questions, contact us through LinkedIn or Facebook, or write directly to sales@alexstaff.agency. We’ll share our experience and find the best IT specialists.

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