Improving the onboarding experience is more than just making new employees feel welcomed and supported; it can also contribute to better overall retention rates, too. In fact, according to one source, workers are almost 70 percent more likely to stay with a company for three years following an excellent onboarding experience. To create an onboarding process that’s better for you and your new hires, follow these tips.
1. Designing an Onboarding Program
Creating an onboarding program for new hires should be a holistic process. From the initial contact with recruiters and hiring managers until the annual review, each employee should feel important and connected to the company as a whole. As you design your program, remember to keep it as simple as possible. Starting a new job can be stressful and filled with anxiety, and too much information at once is quickly forgotten. Don’t put your new hires in the embarrassing position of having forgotten half of what they’ve learned on the first day. Instead, develop a process that’s meant to deliver the most important information in an organized manner over the course of several weeks, even months.
The process should also be structured to set the stage for long-term success and satisfaction with your company. This may include providing additional training to managers who are unfamiliar with supporting new hires during their onboarding phase and should always include input from various teams to discover what they feel the most important aspects of the job and the company are. Keep in mind that most people learn using different styles. Try to have information available in a variety of mediums including videos, printed materials, and, of course, specific people to contact for different types of questions.
2. Onboarding Begins at First Sight
The official onboarding process should begin with the interview process, not on the employee’s first day. The first meeting is your opportunity to give an overview of the organization, talk about the company culture and its mission, and discuss a few general details about the area such as where to park or public transportation options. During this time, prospective employees are trying to get a feel for what work life would be like if they accepted a position with your company. Waiting until the first day to get started is a missed opportunity to connect with potential hires and may lead them to be less enthusiastic about your company.
The weeks leading up to the first day are also critical. Once an offer has been accepted, new hires should be provided with basic information such as company policies, pay schedules, and other information that’s common to all employees. For large organizations, including an employee directory with photos can help people navigate during the first few weeks. If your company has an online portal for employees with this information, now is the time to provide access so new hires can browse at their leisure.
If there is an opportunity to send a welcome letter or invite a new team member to meet the team, take advantage of it. Engage new employees early and often. Demonstrate to them how important they are and how excited you are to have them as part of the team. Help them start to “write themselves into the story” of your company. Engagement start early!
The period prior to the first day is also a good time to deliver training videos, forms to be completed, and other parts of the onboarding process that might be time-consuming and tedious if done all at once in the office. It may be helpful to create an agenda for the first day that includes when and where to arrive, who will be greeting upon arrival, and what to expect for the day.
3. Personalize the Experience
On the employee’s first day, follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. The goal should be to provide an organized, welcoming, and warm experience–especially during the first several hours as these can be particularly nerve-wracking for someone new on the job.
Start by having someone waiting for the new employee to arrive and make them feel welcome. It’s also important to have all the basics ready: a workstation, logins and passwords, supplies, and other items needed for the job. Having this set up and ready to go ahead of time will help your new employee feel that you’ve been anticipating their arrival. Disorganization and a lack of readiness is an easy way to make someone wonder if they may have made a mistake by accepting your offer.
Next, personally introduce the employee to everyone on the team, and give a quick tour of the essential parts of the office such as the break room or cafeteria and restrooms. Resist the urge for a full office tour right away, especially if yours is a large campus, as these can be unnecessarily overwhelming on an already busy day. A friendly lunch in the area with the team will also help him or her feel appreciated as well as provide an opportunity to identify where to grab a bite or a cup of coffee.
Most people want to know right away what they’ll need to be successful at your company. Be sure to share the team’s goals and performance metrics, discuss their manager’s style and expectations, go over any bonus schedules, and review who key decision-makers within the company are. Set clear expectations and milestones for the first 30, 60 and 100 days.
4. The First 100 Days
So, let’s continue with the importance of the first 100 days. It is critical not to overload on the first day! Keep in mind that every detail is new for the employee and too many introductions, demonstrations, and other information can be exhausting and unproductive. Instead, customize the process for each employee and create a plan to have that person fully up-to-speed in the first few months.
Involve the hiring managers in the process as these individuals were the ones who built the initial relationship and the hand-off should be gentle, not abrupt. It’s also important to involve the entire team for the duration of an employee onboarding, not just the first day. This provides not only an opportunity to start creating new office friendships, but also gives new hires several familiar points of contact for help and information as they get settled.
Slow and Steady Wins the Onboarding Process
A smooth onboarding process should be a collaboration between HR and hiring managers, IT support staff, the manager, and all members of the team. When you prepare ahead of time to deliver an organized, personalized experience that’s focused on the first few months–not hours!–you’ll enjoy happier employees who are more likely to stay with the company longer.
If you’re wondering whether your onboarding program positions your company and employees for success, or you would like to review and fine-tune your current process, please contact Michael Grubich at 262-786-9200 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org