GaryJonesWelcome to the Company!  If you are or have been a manager of people, you have probably experienced what is now called “onboarding” or the orientation and socialization of newly hired employees.

 The onboarding process can begin prior to the new employee’s first day of work and can last up to a year or more depending on the organization and complexity of the role.  It is much more comprehensive than the traditional term “orientation.”  While the methods used in successful onboarding programs include the traditional formal orientation meetings, they also include other components such as having new hires review policies, complete certain paperwork and begin to learn about the organization via eLearning as well as informal meetings with coworkers or “buddies” to help them navigate the culture of the organization.

 

There are several benefits of creating a comprehensive and effective onboarding process for your new employees including:

 

  • The First Impression – you and your team have spent many hours reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and making a final selection decision to ensure you have hired the most qualified person.  Creating a great impression on day one and beyond will make your new hire feel as though they have made the right decision to join your company.  Your new employee wants to know more about the company, job expectations, meeting the team, the norms that are not necessarily spelled out in a company handbook and perhaps most importantly - the location of the bathroom!  On day one, take time to review the culture of the company including the vision, mission, and values and show the connection between the job they have just accepted to these values, vision and mission.  If possible, senior management should speak and tell the new hires about themselves, their position and how they connect to the company’s vision, mission, and values each day.  People are excited about their new job and quite naturally nervous.  Putting the new hire at ease on day one will make them feel good about their decision to join your organization.
  • Have an Onboarding Plan - Establish a “road map” for each new hire, so they will know from day one what to expect over the first days, weeks, or even months on the job.  With this itinerary, you’ve established your organization’s professionalism and the new hire will feel valued and can relax knowing you’ve considered their “need to know.”  As part of the formal orientation process, take time and ensure your new team member understands the various benefit offerings of their job and review company policies and guidelines.  It can be helpful to spread all of this information transfer out over multiple days to keep from overloading your new team member.  Too much information at one time can provide for an unpleasant experience for new employees as they can become overwhelmed with so much information to absorb.
  • Speed to Productivity – Conventional wisdom is that the more information you can provide to your new hires initially and quickly will increase the speed in which they will become fully functional in their new role.  Be careful to avoid this trap.  How would you feel if you were simply “thrown into” the front line on day one and asked to observe a co-worker to learn your job?  This approach does not set up the new team member to succeed.  In fact, the new hire may become so frustrated they question their decision to join your organization and decide not to come back for day two!  Spend the necessary time with the new hire to ensure their comfort with the new position, job requirements, tools, and support systems.  This may not seem like a good use of time, but it will pay off in the long run.
  • Engagement/Retention – Why should you be worried about retaining someone who has just started with the company?  If you do a poor job of onboarding, newly hired employees may become frustrated and wonder why they decided to join your organization.  This can be caused in many ways including a misunderstanding of the company’s vision, mission, or culture as well as little or poor technical training on the new job functions.  Building engagement will be difficult, and worth the effort.  You will gain higher engagement and satisfaction from new hires if you seize the opportunity to make them feel as comfortable as possible during their anxiety filled first few days on the job.  The high costs of recruitment, selection, and training in addition to the lost productivity from being short staffed makes losing new employees because of these issues unnecessary.

 

You may be asking yourself; “But where do I start?”  Start by evaluating your current onboarding process and procedures.  You can begin your evaluation by gathering feedback from different groups within your organization on what is currently being done.  It can also be helpful to survey your most recent hires and ask them about their experience.  Some questions to get you started may include:

 

  • What is your process for contacting a new hire before they start their job?  Who is responsible for calling the new employee to confirm their start date?  How excited do they sound when speaking to the new employee?  How thorough is the information provided?  You begin creating that special experience before your new hire walks in on day one.
  • What is the agenda for day one, the first week, the first 90 days and through year one?  Do you have the same process for each person regardless if you have one or ten new hires?  Don’t provide an inferior day one simply because you only have one new hire starting that day.
  • Does your senior management team (or CEO if based in your location) introduce themselves during new hire orientation?  Do they share their story on why they are working for your organization?
  • Do you provide lunch on day one?  Spend the extra money to make your new hire’s first day a special one.
  • Do you provide a welcome gift such as coffee cups, caps, pens, etc. with the company logo?  Start building that connection with your company as soon as possible.  The new employee’s first day should include a bit of “celebration.”
  • Have you provided a mentor in the department for the new hire to be able to ask general questions such as the location of the break room or copy room?
  • Have you defined your onboarding process?  How long does it last?  What is included?  Who is responsible for what portions of it?  Human Resources or the hiring manager?
  • What do recent new hires say about their first day(s) on the job with your company?  What do they remember most about their first day on the job?  What do they note as having “to learn the hard way?”  If they could change just one thing about their first day on the job – what would it be?

 

These are just a few examples of questions to ask about your current processes to help you define and improve your future on-boarding procedures.

 

If you have taken the time and the expense to find that fantastic candidate, make sure that your onboarding process is well defined so that you can celebrate the first year anniversary with your new employee.

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