how onboarding helps overcome talent and safety challenges.

how onboarding helps overcome talent and safety challenges.

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Onboarding. It’s certainly not the most exciting word in the world. Nor does it probably seem like the secret sauce for improving key metrics around safety, while solving longstanding talent woes in the bargain. But for manufacturing and logistics companies today, it can be all that and more.

Don’t believe us? Our recent study on emerging workplace trends uncovered deep insights into the state of onboarding today as well as clear opportunities where manufacturing and logistics companies can take simple steps to drive long-term value. If you’re as bullish as the 68 percent of our manufacturing and logistics clients who said they foresee growth in the year ahead, these are findings you can’t afford to miss.

breaking down the data: the state of onboarding today

Before laying out practical suggestions for improvements, let’s examine the current state of onboarding at manufacturing and logistics companies today. For this, we’ll draw on insights from Randstad’s recent survey of more than 1,000 managers and employees.

Here are the most common onboarding practices at manufacturing and logistics companies today:

Now that we have the high-level view, let’s unpack the data in more detail to see where near-term improvements should be made — and how those changes connect to long-term business value.

where onboarding goes awry

At first blush, the picture of current onboarding practices revealed in Randstad’s survey looks promising. The data suggests that manufacturing and logistics companies are investing in new onboarding tools and continually upgrading and improving their offerings.

Equally encouraging are the 69 percent of managers who say their companies either “always” or “very often” provide training or development opportunities for employees to learn new skills specific to their roles. That’s good news, given that role-specific training is an OSHA-recommended safety practice, as well as a key part of any effective safety program. And in a seemingly related finding, managers in manufacturing and logistics are more inclined than their counterparts in all other industries to describe employees as “continuously” taking advantage of opportunities to gain new skills at work. That’s a great sign of alignment between what manufacturing and logistics companies are offering and what their employees want.

Less encouraging, on the other hand, is that a whopping 32% of talent surveyed revealed they received no onboarding at all. And given that only about half of our clients, according to our research, are utilizing that most basic of onboarding tools, a new hire checklist, it’s clear that there’s plenty of room for improvement. Formalizing new hire onboarding with a checklist not only helps managers and HR streamline and standardize the process, but also sets the stage for better relationships between coworkers. After all, the first few days of employment are a critical period and can be a deciding factor in whether the investment in a new hire ultimately pays off.

These checklists serve as key risk management tools, too, enabling employers to systematically set and manage expectations on all things safety, such as machine-specific training. Without them, how can you ensure that you’re delivering a standardized onboarding experience and creating a common base of knowledge around safety and operations for all new hires?

The simple answer is: You can’t.

Moreover, new-hire checklists have been shown to help get new hires up to speed as much as 25 percent faster, so the business case for implementing them at your worksite should be fairly cut and dry. And as an added bonus, by implementing checklists you’ll also gain the ability to review processes far more objectively when things go wrong.

Finally, the fact that “self-directed research” is a component of onboarding at more than a quarter of manufacturing and logistics companies right now should raise some eyebrows (and not least because it sounds like a euphemism for “You’re on your own now, buddy!”). Most fundamentally, the problem is that, whatever form this research takes, it can’t be effectively or safely brought to bear on day-to-day operations on the floor unless everyone else on the team is in the loop. In light of the close connection between onboarding and on-the-job safety, which is more pronounced in manufacturing and logistics than in most other industries, this is a worrying finding, indeed.  

key takeaways

Approached holistically, onboarding is about more than just what happens when new hires show up at your plant or warehouse. That’s when the process formally kicks into gear, of course, but ultimately, the scope and goals of your onboarding process should be much broader, with downstream impacts across the full employee lifecycle.

Think about what that means in the context of chronic talent shortages in the manufacturing and logistics space. For starters, it means that by putting better onboarding processes in place, you’ll set the stage for anchoring so-called “boomerang” employees — employees who return to your company after stints elsewhere — down the line. And a strong majority (80%) of employees in Randstad’s survey indicated that they were either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to return to former employers in the future.

For manufacturing and logistics companies, better onboarding has the potential to move the needle on key metrics related to both talent and safety, all in one fell swoop. Ready to access the talent you need to move your business forward? To do so, you’ll need to act strategically and make changes today. It all starts with onboarding — and Randstad can help. Learn how.

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