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Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding Best Practices

Why the onboarding process is so important.

It’s a match! You’ve found the perfect person to fill an open position, and they’ve accepted your offer. Time for celebration and a sigh of relief, but also time to plan to make the onboarding process as positive as possible.

Your new hire is excited about working with you, and a little nervous too. Will the job meet expectations? Will co-workers be welcoming? What’s the day-to-day culture really like?

The onboarding process says a lot about your company. Keep in mind, onboarding isn’t a single day, it’s a months-long process. Done well, it improves productivity, increases engagement, and helps employees become successful contributors. Done poorly, it increases turnover, and like in the movie Groundhog Day, you’ll be onboarding over and over and over for the same position.

Here’s how to get it right, right from the start

  • Keep the fires burning. Your new hire is stoked to begin the job. Don’t go cold between their acceptance and the start date. Send them the necessary paperwork online to read (company manual, info about parking passes, badges, etc.) or fill out (tax forms, benefits enrollment) before they start instead of them having to spend time the first day or week slogging through them. Human Resources or their new supervisor should send a welcome email with a schedule for the first day.
  • Send your new hire a gift welcoming them even before they start. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that you create an “unboxing” experience for them. “Unboxing is a YouTube phenomenon in which enthusiasts unwrap products… We think onboarding can provide a similar opportunity for employers to create excitement around the company and the new hire’s role.” What should you send? We think a fresh-made cake is a perfect way to make the new hire and their family feel instantly at home.
  • Day 1 on the job. Be ready for your new hire. Have their desk set up, email accounts created, ID badge ready, have someone assigned to show them around (where’s coffee, where are the restrooms, where is the supply closet), and have a schedule prepared. Have a peer take them to lunch paid for by the company, and towards the end of the day, have the new hire’s supervisor ask how the day went. You don’t want the new hire to be here today, gone tomorrow. (It happens! According to SHRM, nearly 4 percent of employees quit after a disastrous first day.)
  • Make introductions. In the first week or two, schedule meetings with employees from other departments so the new hire understands the organization better, and how his role fits into the larger picture. An org chart or photo directory can also help your new employee connect the slew of new names with positions and faces.
  • Set realistic short-term goals for the new hire. On average, it takes a new hire eight months to become fully productive, so pace your expectations. And in that time period, check in every couple of months by scheduling a feedback session that goes both ways. A new employee who provides honest feedback might present fresh insights that improve the onboarding process. And when an employee feels heard, they feel engaged. It’s a win/win.

Great onboarding means a bright future for all

Finding the perfect fit for your business is hard work. Don’t ruin all that effort with an onboarding experience that makes your new hire head right back out the door. If you can ensure you’re welcoming that new talent and showing respect from the start, you’ll find you have more engaged employees, a more talented staff, and word will spread so that the next time you’re searching for new team members, they’ll be eager to sign right up.