Employee Onboarding: How to Get it Right

When it comes to your company assets, staff are among your most valuable, as having the right employees, knowledge and abilities in place, can be the difference between success and failure.

It’s therefore essential that besides attracting the best recruits, you do everything you can to retain and increase your volume of happy, fully engaged and productive long-term members of staff. And one of the best ways to achieve this is through a comprehensive employee onboarding programme.

For those of you that are new to this concept, we will look at this in a bit more detail next.

What is employee onboarding?

The employee onboarding process is concerned with helping staff settle in and orientate themselves with their new role, colleagues, company culture and policies through a mix of induction and on the job training, so they swiftly become highly productive employees.

The onboarding process is crucial, as it helps spark the initial and ongoing employee engagement of new recruits as their career progresses and evolves within an organisation.

However, if you’re to maximise the benefits of any employee onboarding programme, it needs to be set up in the right way from the outset.

Employee onboarding best practices

When it comes to onboarding, organisations that provide quality employee onboarding programmes understand that the process of integrating fresh recruits into a company and its culture, requires more than just a welcome letter and a great first day at work.

Nurturing relationships with new employees are crucial, as great first impressions don’t necessarily lead to great lasting impressions. In fact, in some organisations it can take months to educate a new staff member on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of them to begin contributing effectively to an organisation’s success.

It’s why the best employee onboarding programs typically extend throughout an employee’s first 90 days with an organisation and in some cases up to a full year. It’s also important when you consider that nearly 70% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they’ve experienced a great onboarding programme.

Considering the length of some onboarding programmes, it’s almost impossible to create a specific onboarding agenda, schedule, or template. So, instead it helps to have some best practices to work to, as you look to build some longer-term goals and metrics that you can use to determine whether your onboarding is successful or needs to be tweaked.

Here are some best practices to consider:

Begin onboarding new hires before they arrive

Many organisations prefer to wait until the new employee’s first day of work before starting any orientation and onboarding. However, there will often be a delay of many days, weeks, or even months from a new hire receiving their job offer and starting their new job.

This period of delay can offer a great opportunity for you to build excitement with new recruits, help them feel welcome and initiate the steady stream of information they will need to get up to speed quickly.

Develop some great hiring and welcome practices

Help new employees hit the ground running, by getting them ready not just for their first day, but their first month in their new role.

Consider putting a new hire checklist together that captures some of the following hiring practices for new staff.

  • Welcome new recruits with a call and a welcome email
  • Send new hires a welcome package
  • Prepare work tools and resources for the new hire
  • Put together an orientation program and agenda
  • Offer ample opportunities to meet and greet colleagues

Enrol the support of leaders to talk about company culture

Onboarding should not be the sole responsibility of your human resources team, but also involve other team members, managers and senior leader to executive different onboarding activities.

You could involve a senior leader, such as a company founder to educate new employees about the company’s history, it’s culture and expected values and behaviour. This could be delivered in any of the following ways:

  • Delivering a company presentation
  • Giving new recruits a tour of your company building or facility
  • Presenting it as a specific topic area, as part of an overall training programme
  • Taking new recruits out for coffee or lunch

Offer opportunities to connect with co-workers

Devising ways for new employees to connect with their new teammates early on can help foster greater feelings of belonging and inclusion. Ideas could include:

  • Scheduling some short introductory meetings with co-workers.
  • Getting an existing team member to act as a mentor or buddy for your latest recruit.
  • Hosting a team lunch or team building event to foster a more relaxed, informal environment for getting to know each other.

Use onboarding software tools

An effective onboarding process can involve a range of different tasks and activities, from completing new employee paperwork to conducting orientation and training programs for new recruits.

Given the time that some of these activities can take, you might want to consider investing in some onboarding software tools to help with this. By automating and streamlining many of these processes, they can help save you time, and ensure you don’t miss any important steps in each staff member’s onboarding process.

Conduct regular one-to-one meetings

Conducting frequent one-to-one meetings between a line manager and their team members helps foster more positive and productive relations between the two groups. So, for any new faces, it’s prudent to build these one-to-one meetings into their normal work routine, as soon as you can.

Employ surveys to identify what’s working and what’s not

Probably one of the most important tools to consider during the onboarding process is the use of staff surveys, as it’s difficult for you to know what’s really working and what isn’t without feedback from your new recruits.

However, when it comes to surveys, what’s interesting is that many employers are often happy to gather feedback from employees, through an exit survey as they’re leaving their company, but crucially don’t think to survey them before this stage.

While it’s useful to get feedback from departing staff, to find out more about their reasons for leaving, it’s more valuable to get their feedback earlier on, in order to make the changes that will help more of them stay. This is where the benefit of using an onboarding survey, really comes into its own.

From their views about your recruitment process and how it influenced their decision to work for you, to their opinions about their first day, induction, training and first few weeks and months with your organisation. With the right onboarding survey questions, you can get a good feel for what new recruits think and what more you can do to improve onboarding and the number of recruits going on to become productive long-term members of staff.

8 employee onboarding ideas

While we’ve provided some good pointers about some valuable best practices to include, it’s also worth thinking about including some more unusual, creative or inspiring ideas, that can provide the ‘X’ factor in terms of exciting and engaging new recruits. To help you, we’ve put together a short list below:

Let them choose what hardware they use

If your organisation isn’t restricted by the brand of hardware you’re able to provide, being able to offer new hires a choice of phone or laptop can make a real difference to how appreciated and involved they feel.

Invite new hires to join you for company drinks

If you regularly host a company drinks get together at the end of the week, inviting new hires to mingle with their team and co-workers in an informal social setting can make a real difference in helping them to settle in.

Run a quiz

Why not put together some key questions and answers about your company, culture, department and even team members, then create a short, fun quiz about this for your new recruits. Delivering information in a fun, but still relevant way, should improve how well new staff retain this information.

Create a short welcome video

Consider putting together a short video for new recruits, which gives them an overview of your company, featuring your CEO and other key personnel. This will help convey your company culture, add interest and help humanise your senior managers.

Create an orientation cheat sheet

Think about creating a handy guide, which covers the who, what and where for new employees. This will help orientate new hires about key personnel, what each department does, important locations in your office and even information about handy food and retail outlets that are nearby.

Be app-ealing with new hires

Create an employee app for internal news, encourage staff to download it and spotlight new hires in your content feed, as soon as they join your company. This will help keep office and remote based workers up to date with any new faces that have joined.

In-office treasure hunt

Ok, while this is not strictly like your usual treasure hunt, it does require new employees to visit other staff members to collect an item from them. The idea behind this, is to help ease the awkwardness of first conversations, and help new hires get to know key contacts in other departments.

Get personal

Having a personalised welcome gift waiting on a new employee’s desk when they arrive is a great way to make them immediately feel part of your team. This could be anything from a coffee mug or stress ball to a welcome card from the new recruit’s team members. Creativity is the key here.

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