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Onboarding the Six Sigma Way

Onboarding The Six Sigma way is a very popular and trending HR word, but not everyone understands what it is or how it is done. The goal of the onboarding process is to develop a long-term relationship between the company and the worker while encouraging a feeling of having a place and a confirmation of making the right decision. Each business is unique, therefore, there is no unified approach to handle onboarding of new hire. Regardless, be reminded, the initial introductions last, so take every opportunity to make the most effective onboarding process.

There’s no shortage of processes for guiding decisions in business today. But does using them take the “human” out of “human resources”?

By Mark Feffer, October 1, 2015

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “ Onboarding The Six Sigma way is the process by which new hires get acclimatized to all aspects of their jobs rapidly and easily and learn the KSA and behaviours required to function effectively within an organization.”


Many companies have started to use data-driven techniques to improve HR processes with Onboarding the Six Sigma Way.

Example of such companies is a leading call center service provider which found that less than 30% of all their new hires had immediate access to the items they needed to begin training or performing their jobs. This has resulted in frequent management complaints and presumed dissatisfaction on the part of new hires in addition to lost revenue due to delayed productivity. Most new hires were without access to the parking facility, the building, the computer and telephone systems, and job related and corporate software applications.

Project goal was defined: To increase up to 95% of new hires that would have access to all materials they need to begin training and/or performing their tasks on their very first day of work. As this become possible, the number of internal/external complaints are expected to go down while adding satisfaction to the new hires.

The team selected the DMAIC process as their improvement method. A Six Sigma DMAIC project is defined as a project that eliminates a chronic problem that is causing customer dissatisfaction, defects, costs of poor quality, or other deficiencies in performance.


Estimated Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)

The company estimated that by reducing:

  • New hire entry time by HR staff from 10 minutes to 3 minutes per hire;they could save $834/year
  • New hire payroll/timekeeping set-up by 15 minutes per new hire; they could save $4,125/year.
  • Trainer and/or hiring manager time to track down and/or troubleshoot issues by 30 minutes, they could save $8,250/year.
  • Double entry, they could save $2,383/year.
  • The time it takes to collect missing information, they could save $7,150.
  • The time to correct errors in the IT related set-up, they could save $5,362.
  • The manual workarounds, they could save $5, 958/year.
  • Turnover by 1 percentage point, they could save $45,600.

Total Annual Soft Dollar Savings = $79,662.

A multidisciplinary project team was selected to improve the new hire process. The team consisted of representatives from IT, human resources, finance, and the helpdesk. The project Y was inadequate access to necessary items for new hires to begin training or performing their jobs.

Current process capability revealed many quick fixes that were possible as shown by process mapping.

Utilizing a Cause and Effect Diagram, the team identified some of the major factors that were contributing to new hires being without access and information on their first day.

The team tested several theories that they believed were contributing to new hires being without adequate access. They discovered that the Vital Few Xs that contributed to why new hires not getting the materials they need on time:

  1. The team
  2. Help Desk prioritization
  3. Location of new hire

List of quick fixes

  • They revised the “New Hire Checklist for Hiring Managers” with details for help-desk communication.
  • HR took over the entry of each new hire’s birth date, emergency contact, spousal information, gender, race, and personal information instead of passing it onto payroll to complete.
  • They created an ETN (employee transaction notice) with a section to capture new hire data on one form vs. three.
  • They streamlined the Helpdesk Onboarding Six Sigma Process and were able to reduce turnaround time from 7 days to 2 days.
  • They eliminated the “per new hire” custom email to IT staff and decided to only send a standard monthly new hire report.

Implementation and Control

In order to remedy the Vital Few Xs, the team came up with the following strategies:

  • They standardized and simplified the team process to eliminate variation.
  • They ensured the help desk tickets were completed for all new hires prior to their start dates.
  • They ensured a complete set-up for each new hire no matter where they were located.
  • They trained all hiring managers on new processes and procedures.
  • They documented standard software access profiles by job title.
  • They documented standard building and key card access profiles by job title.
  • They created and distributed new hire access packets and took new hire photos on day one.
  • They implemented auto notices to hiring managers to initiate the onboarding six sigma process.
  • They created an online information gathering questionnaire for new hires to complete.
  • They create an online survey of new hires to confirm that access and set-up was completed accurately.
  • They asked the hiring managers to confirm names, email addresses, addresses, and phone numbers during the new hire offer.
  • They set up desktop fax capabilities for HR staff to receive drug screen results at their desktop.
  • They deactivated the parking ramp arm from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays.
  • They added the hiring manager’s name to new hire emails and copied the hiring manager.

The Benefits
Using data-driven strategies, the problems were addressed Six Sigma way; and this outsourced call service company was able to successfully exceed their goal of increasing the percentage of new hires that had immediate access to all materials to 95% while keeping cost lower by $79K a year.

By: Zil Kamal Mokhtar (ACGI) , Six Sigma Master Black Belt Consultant & Trainer

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