Colleges and universities are making onboarding a priority. Here’s why.

Onboarding hasn’t always been a major concern at many colleges and universities. In 2015, when asked to prioritize the talent management activities that most need improvement, higher education institutions ranked onboarding second to last.

That lack of commitment to onboarding can be costly — in a number of ways.

Poor or insufficient onboarding experiences can leave a negative impression on new hires and hinder retention. “New employees often don’t get enough guidance,” said Andrea Brown, director of HR services at the University of Utah.

Also, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), employees who attend a well-structured onboarding or orientation program are 69 percent more likely to remain with that employer for up to three years.

But today’s colleges and universities are beginning to see the value of properly onboarding their new hires. In 2016, they identified improved onboarding as the No. 1 priority.

“Onboarding is one of the most important things in HR,” said Anthony Cross, HR consultant at Rutgers University. “That’s the first impression.”

Rutgers University is already taking steps to improve in this area. “A lot of our meetings now are focusing on how we can improve the onboarding process,” Anthony said.

So, why are colleges and universities suddenly so interested in onboarding? According to Andrea, “A lot of institutions struggle with early retention and engagement.”

Statistics show she’s right.

Colleges and universities saw annual turnover reach 13 percent last year, with 22 percent of those turnovers occurring within the first 45 days of employment. With the amount of effort higher education institutions are putting into attracting the right candidates, watching them leave so quickly simply isn’t an option. ­­­­­­­­­­­­

By helping your new hires maintain their excitement and showing them how they fit into the mission and vision of your institution, however, you can steadily improve retention and engagement.

Are you ready to improve your onboarding process, but are unsure where to start?

CUPA-HR, a well-respected association for HR professionals in higher education, partnered with PeopleAdmin to improve the onboarding processes of colleges and universities across the country. The result? The CUPA-HR Onboarding Checklist — a list of 25 crucial onboarding tasks and forms. By completing these expert-recommended steps, you can help ensure a positive first impression with new hires.

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