Remember the jitters of starting at a new school? On your first day, an older student might have helped you figure out how to find your locker and follow shortcuts to beat the bell. But after that, you were on your own in a sea of strange new faces.
As professionals, most of us can navigate new environments better than when we were kids. Still, it helps to be guided into a new professional reality, and to have a clear view of the future at the same time. This is what effective onboarding is all about.
Onboarding helps your most recent hire go from new employee to successful contributor.
Onboarding is a critical element to bringing new employees into the fold—and it goes way beyond an orientation. In fact, more and more businesses recognize effective onboarding as the key to building a successful, long-lasting venture. And this goes beyond creating synergy in the workplace—it’s a cost savings measure too. Some studies suggest that replacing an employee can cost businesses as much as 1.5 times the employee’s salary in training and lost management hours—costs that most businesses would rather avoid.
What does successful onboarding look like?
Here are three stages to help build and follow a successful onboarding plan:
Waiting for your new hire’s first day? Start earlier if your company allows for it. You’ll get a number of the essential pieces out of the way, and kickstart the process of bringing the new hire into the mix. That way, they’ll already have momentum on their first day.
- Send them what they need ahead of time—legal forms, their formal offer letter, the employee handbook, and company policies.*
- Allow access to HR software and other applications they’ll use.
- If you have a company intranet, or internal social media page, give them access. Direct them to videos, podcasts, and other info that will help them take a deeper dive into the company’s mission and goals.
*Be sure to comply with wage and hour laws regarding compensation for time spent reviewing company materials, including work-related emails, before or after their first day at work.
Internally, make sure other members of your team are ready too.
- Encourage peers to reach out with short congratulatory emails.
- Connect with IT to be sure your new hire’s technology (hardware and software) is ready on day one.
- Prepare a contact list for your new hire’s workspace so they’ll know how to connect others.
- Provide visual information to help them find their way around (maps, punch codes, org charts, etc.)
Make the first day and week memorable, but not overwhelming
Doing the early work is a way to help your new hire feel comfortable and ready to go from the start. In an office setting: the computer is set, email is configured, and their name plate is waiting near their workspace. Or you’ve made space in the breakroom for their lunch and belongings, set up a mentor system, and have constructed a list of activities they can perform to fit into the workflow.
No matter what industry your new employee is in, here are a few other things to consider for the first day:
- Meet them when they arrive, or assign a few team members to do so. It’s like receiving a personal welcome from the host at a party.
- Show them around, and help them get situated at their own pace. Maybe they want to check out the break room or cafeteria. Perhaps they have questions about parking they didn’t realize until they showed up. Do they want to try out their ID badge?
In fact, keep things as personalized as possible, and follow their lead. Is your new hire an introvert? Perhaps they’d rather go to their workspace first, then meet people. Give them options, and ask for input along the way.
And remember, it’s not just about new hires “fitting in.” They want to be sure your company fits them as well.
- Be sure they get one-on-one and small group time with their manager, project leads, or others with whom they’ll be interfacing.
- Look at these moments two-fold: 1) they serve as meet-and-greets; and 2) they help your new hire ask questions, and see the bigger picture about his or her role going forward.
Just when you think you’re done, continue the onboarding process.
Congratulations—the first week is over. Time to kick back and relax, right? Not at all. Successful onboarding will continue for some time—anywhere from 90 days to an entire first year.
You’ll want to schedule status checks, and discuss your new employee’s career goals.
- Set up periodic check-ins during the first few weeks, right through the half-year mark.
- Create a more in-depth survey, or share a pre-existing video suite at specific times, complete with self-evaluations, learning systems, and resources to help them set career goals.
Find out how the company has (or hasn’t) met your new hire’s expectations—and don’t be afraid to ask for this level of feedback.
- These types of “direct truths” will likely pay huge dividends going forward, and receiving such feedback is a powerful way to help ensure the company is “walking its talk.”
- On a personal level, your new hire may appreciate having the opportunity to be candid.
You can also use status checks to gauge your new hire’s strategic goals.
- Do they see their path toward growth and development in the organization?
- Have they encountered any stumbling block or new ideas?
- How have their career plans shifted?
Remember: the days of the slapdash walk-through—as well as do-it-all-in-one-day orientation—are gone. Onboarding is a progressive, iterative process, one that requires time, follow-up, and follow-through. Done correctly, it transforms from a positive first impression, to a lasting mark that dramatically improves retention over time.
Consider a software solution to assist with onboarding.
Many companies are turning toward software solutions to assist with the technicalities of their onboarding process. This allows your HR team to focus on the human part of onboarding a new employee, while paperwork is completed through an efficient, easy-to-use system that most employees can use with little to no assistance.
myStaffingPro is an enterprise-level applicant tracking system for HR professionals. Through our software solution, you can recruit candidates, and seamlessly flow them through interviews, offers, background checks, and onboarding.