By some accounts within the human resources field, most companies’ onboarding practices are costly and ineffective. By failing to get new hires settled effectively, businesses face steep turnover rates and retention troubles.
It doesn’t help that employees usually decide whether they feel welcome in a new organization after a very short period of time. What companies do in those first few days are critically important. With that in mind, here are six ways to rethink how you onboard new employees–something that actually starts at the job application stage.
Like it or not, a new employee’s first impressions are forged even before she lands an interview with a hiring manager, and they’ll continue to influence her experience during the first few days on the job. So think hard about the face you present to potential employees, beginning with your company website. Make sure it’s full of clear and accurate information about your business and work culture.
Not only does this cut down on the likelihood of attracting candidates who aren’t a good “culture fit,” it also shows how committed you are to creating a great work environment. New hires who understand right away that that’s a top priority are more likely to settle in and stay satisfied.
Gone are the boring days of publishing a job description in the newspaper and waiting for paper resumes to be mailed in. Businesses are now free to be more creative in order to find a good “culture fit” with the candidates they consider. Here’s how one company appealed to computer engineers:
In the pressure to make new employees feel welcome, it’s easy to forget why they were hired in the first place: to do great work.
It might feel premature, but it doesn’t hurt to start gathering quantitative information on your new employees as soon as you hire them. Business intelligence reporting tools like WorkflowMax are perfect for this, letting you customize the metrics that are most important to you–but still appropriate for someone who’s just getting acquainted with their new role.
You can also collect qualitative data on how a new hire is fitting into the organization just by asking the managers and team members they interact with regularly from the very beginning. A quick survey tool like Waggl takes the complexity out of employee feedback.
HR managers can use this information, not to pass premature judgment on how well a new employee is doing before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves, but to find weak spots and friction in the onboarding process itself.
Rather than assigning a single person to show your new employee the ropes, get several existing team members volunteers. Have one person give them a tour and someone else take them to lunch. Also make sure that the activities you arrange for your new employee show them how they fit into the organization as an individual.
Drawing up a flexible itinerary for a new employee’s first 40 hours will help them balance new meetings and tasks with time for questions and feedback. That also lessens the burden on other team members whose workdays will be interrupted to assist with the process.
When you send out an email announcing a new employee’s arrival, make it a celebration! Don’t just include the basic information–name, title, job roles, and department–but share a few of their other skills and experiences as well as praise about why they’ve been hired and how they’re going to be a great fit.
This is always a good opportunity to take a fresh look at the basic company policies to which your team will be introducing the new hire. You don’t want to risk someone with experience teaching the newbie bad habits.
The faster new employees are acquainted with their colleagues, the sooner they’ll feel like they’re part of the team.
Don’t just provide a list of names and titles of department staff. Instead, offer photos of existing team members, their basic job descriptions, and even a few tidbits on their personalities. You can put this information on a searchable database on your network and send the link to new employees as needed.
But perhaps the best way to speed up those introductions is to get the new hire’s direct manager involved.
“The worst thing you can do is have new hires show up when their immediate supervisor isn’t there for three or four days. It’s like getting married and not having your spouse on your honeymoon,” the management expert John Sullivan
has written. Research bears that out, with a third of new employees in one recent survey saying they want their own managers to show them the ropes:
Just sharing the accounts and programs your organization uses isn’t enough. You’ll also have to make sure new employees feel comfortable using them, and that can take time.
In order to help push them past the learning curve, try creating simple games, quizzes, checklists, and rewards around the materials you use to introduce those tools. More active learning experiences in smaller chunks can actually improve how quickly and deeply your new hire can get acquainted with the systems they’ll be using.
Collaborative tools can also help. Include all the relevant documentation in shared cloud folder or a tool like Memit, which collects a company’s “best-of” materials, like online videos, blog posts, and even legal paperwork all in one place. You can then “invite” new employees to that digital collection. Memit automatically syncs with major cloud providers, so if the new employee wants to add anything of their own, their content will be shared with the rest of their team.
If you help your employees set career goals, and show them how the organization can help them achieve those goals, they’ll be more likely to stay. Make it clear within the first few days how your new hire will be evaluated, and include a personal career-development element in the appraisal process. That demonstrates that your team members’ individual goals are just as important as their contributions to the company.
Remember, effective onboarding starts the moment a new prospect considers becoming your employee, and continues long after their first day or week on the job. New employees want to be embraced by the organization, but they still want to be treated as individuals with talents and objectives of their own. Demonstrate that your organization values both, and they’ll be far more likely to invest themselves in your company.