Transitioning new employees has always been a pain point in companies for both parties. This process is called onboarding, which includes setting equipment and security access codes, welcoming the new employee to the company, training for their role, and adaptation to company culture. This process is imperative to the initial successes of your new hire and will make a lasting impression. Unfortunately, without a plan in place, employers get stuck with questions like; How do we create a valuable onboarding process? What does the new employee need to know? How much information is too much? Often times, it also makes new employees feel completely overwhelmed with all the changes, new processes, and steep learning curve of their new jobs. Statistics show that onboarding is a make or break moment for new hires, with 50% of hourly workers leaving their new jobs within 120 days, and 50% of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months of the job. The faster a new hire feels welcomed and prepared, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the team.
So how do you bridge that gap and make the onboarding process for new employees a smooth transition with positive impact? Follow these seven tips to build a plan that will add value to your team and get your new employee hitting the ground running!
1. Immerse New Employees in the Company’s Culture and Vision
By connecting the new hire experience to both the role as well as the identity of the company, it engages that new hire and immerses them in the culture. Explore topics such as the history of the company, origins and victories. Compelling stories can be just the ticket to show how far the company has come and where it’s going in the future. Include information about the vision, mission and values and how those are incorporated in the everyday work of the company. Another great topic to include in the orientation is information about the market, products/services, customers, and functions of various components within the company. These topics should be the perfect way to make the new hire feel a part of the larger whole and connected to the company’s vision.
2. Start Early
This means before “Day 1”. First impressions are the most important feature of the onboarding process. Make sure that as a company, you plan for the onboarding process well before the first day of the new hire. This means setting up any technology, passwords, and logistics before the new employee arrives. Speak with your new hire about expectations, arrival time, dress code, and other imperative items for the day. This will put the employee at ease, knowing that they will be taken care of and not be left out on their first day.
- Send a welcome package with information, a book or articles about the business, a personal note, and perhaps a treat or flowers. This makes people feel valued and also allows them to formulate questions and gain context before they come to work.
- To publicize the arrival of the new employee, send an all-company email and, if possible, post a picture or place an article in an internal newsletter.
- Initiate computer support and order business cards.
- Set up the new workspace.
- Schedule the onboarding meetings, including those with senior leaders, and invite the required people.
- Prepare an onboarding toolkit and “itinerary” for the new hire.
- Assign a mentor to serve as a trusted advisor during onboarding.
- Schedule “welcome lunches” with managers, peers, senior leaders, and others across the organization.
3. Make the First Day on the Job Special
This goes hand and hand with making a great first impression. This specialization could be taking the time to introduce the employee to team members and making them feel welcome. This could also be a time to take the new hire out for lunch and giving them a chance to really connect with the team. It also shows them how excited you are for them to join the organization.
4. Monitor Progress Over Time
Understand that onboarding takes time! The first week is not long enough to foster the relationship with the new hire and ensure their success. Creating milestones and checkpoints for training new information and time to reconnect throughout various time periods is imperative to the continued success of employees. Use milestones to check in at 30, 60, 90, and 120 day time periods. Not only does this give a chance for the employee to voice their concerns, it sets aside time to talk about how things are going, what both parties can perform better, and ensures that there is open communication between the new hire and their managers.
5. Use the Buddy System
Having a coworker that is assigned to help a new hire is a great way to make them feel included and give support during the first few months of the process. This coworker could be a mentor, or someone in the same position that is willing to take time to train and answer questions when they arrive. Make sure that the person assigned as the buddy has all of their details (as well as necessary materials) to answer questions that might arise. Another important piece is for the buddy to have enough time in their schedule to take on this role. Nothing is worse than feeling like you are bothering someone by asking them a question. The buddy should be aware of this and build in time to check with the new employee to make sure they are doing okay in their role.
6. Individualize the Process
Even though the first day will include various components and perhaps some time with HR reviewing policies, don’t forget to make your new hire feel unique. Find out about the unique qualities of an individual, to give great insight into their management style as well as their goals within the company. As a manager, it’s important that you find out about the new hire and what makes them a great asset. Demonstrate to the new hire that their skills can individually contribute to the company, and make sure they understand their overall goals. The new hire will feel deeper connection to the team and the company and they will understand how their work affects the larger whole, without feeling lost or as if their part is unimportant.
7. Define Expectations
The worst mistake you can make is to confuse a new hire. Their first few days will an overwhelming amount of new information, new faces/names, and systems. Make sure that when your new hire leaves their training or orientation programs, that they have a clear understanding of their role and the expectations for daily work moving forward. Provide a project they can work on to get them acclimated easily. Make the instructions for their tasks easy to understand and clarify if necessary. Make sure the new hire feels responsible for asking help, if they have questions. Equal responsibility of both parties provides empowerment to the new hire and ensures that both are working together to get the job done.
By using these tips, your company will not have to succumb to the statistics and rates of new employee turnovers. Onboarding new employees does not have to be a boring or arduous process, but instead it can be a time to empower employees to strive for their goals and create a solid baseline to build toward a successful future with the company. Most important, make sure new employees are made to feel excited about their role and supported to keep them comfortable and empowered along the way.