So, you’ve found the right person for the job (congrats!) and the hard bit is done, right? Well, yes and no. New-hire onboarding, or the process of integrating new employees into an organisation, is a critical part of the hiring process and the employee’s first impressions of you and your company.
If you approach onboarding your new staff member as an afterthought and don’t invest much time into their first day/week/month, the result can leave your new employee feeling disillusioned and alienated. A poor onboarding experience can even lower their confidence in their ability to perform their new role – not a great feeling for someone starting a new job!
It is said that you only have one chance to make a good first impression… and a smooth onboarding process is important to creating the impression you want. After all, strong relationships are not built on poor foundations.
When done well, an efficient, consistent, and well-planned new-hire onboarding process can create a positive organisational culture and set a person up for long-term success in your company. It can also hasten the time it takes for the new hire to make meaningful contributions to the company and increase retention rates!
In fact, employee engagement statistics from across the globe show a negative onboarding experience doubles the chance of an employee seeking another opportunity, and a great onboarding experience ensures 69% of employees stick with a company for three years.
Further, according to Gallup’s “Creating an Exceptional Onboarding Journey for New Employees” report, employees who have a positive onboarding experience are almost three times as likely to feel prepared and supported in their role, boosting their confidence and improving their ability to perform their role well.
As a manager, it’s your job to ensure each new employee’s experience in the workplace is a positive one, but knowing where to start with your new-hire onboarding plan can be overwhelming.
Let’s break down the onboarding process into three phases to set your new staff members up for success and, ultimately, improve overall staff retention.
Phase 1: Preboarding
Preparing the basics
Hiring new staff and onboarding them can involve multiple departments, such as Human Resources, Payroll, IT (and others). It’s important to ensure the onboarding process is as smooth as possible. That way, you don’t lose valuable time in trying to bring a new person up to speed and they can start performing at their best, sooner.
Before your candidate starts, make sure they receive their Letter of Offer and contract information in a timely manner.
Next, work with relevant departments to ensure your new starter:
There may be other basic items that new starters in your company need, but this is a start.
Why not customise a “hiring new staff” checklist for your specific industry/work environment and use it to make sure you set your new starter up for success from day 1?
Being organised in this way also helps new hires to feel supported, valued, and safe as they start their new role in your company.
Phase 2: Onboarding
The first day
Starting a new job can be an intimidating experience for many new hires, however, there are several small tasks that managers can complete to make a person feel comfortable and welcome.
Here are a few of those tasks which are important to do on day 1 as part of the new-hire onboarding experience:
You could provide a document for everything you would like the new starter to see, read and do in their first week to prioritise their learning. Having clear boundaries and tasks for your new hires, particularly in their first week, can help them feel secure, on task and understand what is expected from them.
You could also have a 30, 60 or even 90-day plan outlines for them with core activities you’d like them to complete within these timeframes.
Day 1 is also a great way to establish some boundaries. You may like to ask questions such as:
Understanding the environment, culture, and expectations
Your workplace may be vastly different to what your new hire is used to, so it’s important that managers take the time to help new staff understand the environment they will be working in and the behaviours expected from them.
Many employees and managers find it invaluable to run through the company’s history and its place in its industry, share the company Values, Missions and Goals and the expected behaviours which align with these.
Have you invited your new hire to all the meetings you would like them to attend and is this captured in their work calendar? Having your new starters attend meetings from the get-go is a great way for them to witness the company culture and people dynamics and start to meet the people they will work with.
According to Harvard Business Review, managers should also encourage organisational “heroes,” or people held up as exemplary, to connect with new hires and share personal stories that demonstrate valued behaviours. This helps to build the organisational culture you want, from the very beginning and is an important part of onboarding new staff members.
Harvard Business Review also recommends formally engaging new hires in conversations about how performance is measured and rewarded, and how growth opportunities arise, at regular, key intervals such as three, six and nine months.
Phase 3: Training
Training is a core part of most new-hire onboarding processes and there are many ways training can be delivered.
Some people prefer to learn by doing it themselves with written manuals or instructions from a manager.
In this instance, can you confirm:
Other people prefer 1:1 support and learn by watching. In this instance, ask if the new starter can shadow a current employee to watch what they do, and which systems they use and ask questions along the way.
A buddy is a dedicated person who takes a new hire under their wing, can show them the ropes and answer their questions. Pairing your new starters with a buddy can be a great way to make your new staff member feel comfortable.
Surprisingly, and despite its obvious benefits, only 47% of organisations are using buddy programs to onboard new employees. New-hire onboarding statistics from Sapling HR reveal that assigning a mentor or buddy to a new hire during an onboarding process, increases the efficiency of the new hire.
You may like to ask your new hire ahead of time about their learning preferences. That way, you can tailor the onboarding experience to suit their needs. This demonstrates genuine interest and empathy for the individual.
Calling upon current resources
A great way to help a new person settle in is to speak with the person currently in the role. Ask them what they feel is important to tell the new person and what they wished they had known on day 1 and then implement or incorporate that information into the onboarding experience/documentation.
It can also be very helpful for a new starter if the person leaving the role creates a comprehensive handover document with the status of tasks and where/how to find core information, and names and contact details of people they will work with the most.
Some companies will request certain training (OH&S, cyber security, emergency procedures etc) be completed online prior to the new starter’s formal commencement date - this can be a great way to speed up the onboarding process.
As you see, new-hire onboarding is a layered and ongoing process that involves being organised, communicating regularly and effectively, and teamwork to achieve a good outcome for managers and new starters, and set them up for long-term success.