Tips for a Successful Onboarding Process

by Susan Mullin

You’ve got the talent you were so desperately looking for and they’re a good fit for the job – you like them and they like you! Task done – right? Not so fast. The recruiting process isn’t complete once they’ve signed the dotted line; you’re still missing the onboarding process. Onboarding is a critical step in the hiring process that is too often overlooked. It’s crucial to acclimate your new hire to your team, your culture and your way of working. According to Bamboo HR, recently hired employees with a positive onboarding experience are 18 times more committed to their employer.

Onboarding tips

Unfortunately, only 12% of U.S. employees say their company does a good job of onboarding.  And now with more people working remotely, onboarding can be even more complicated when it comes to helping a new hire develop relationships and learn their role in a virtual setting.  According to Gallup analytics, nearly one in five employees either report that their most recent onboarding was poor or that they received no onboarding at all. There is definitely room for improvement.

Some of the best onboarding programs go beyond setting up a new employee’s cubicle, laptop and passwords and giving them all of the HR and benefits information. Here are some best practices for onboarding employees to ensure they (and you!) get off on the right foot:

Send a welcome message with first-day details before they start

Include a “congratulations and good luck on your first day” message along with any important details they may need including access to buildings, usernames and passwords, a point of contact for any questions and other important info. Also, include their agenda for the first week (this helps alleviate the first day/week jitters) so they know where they need to be, when and who they are meeting with.  While you are at it, if you have company swag, send them a welcome package on their first day (company t-shirt, coffee mug, pen, notepad) or you could even send flowers, a plant, or cookies. At TorchLight, we send flowers or goodies to our new placements and it’s very well received!

Schedule meetings in the first 30, 60, and even 90 days with key team members

It takes some pressure off of you, the hiring manager,  to do all the explanatory work for every team and department. It allows the new hire to begin building rapport and an understanding of the organization. It’s’ also important to give direction to the existing team members on what you would like them to cover in their conversations. At TorchLight, we typically schedule conversations with all team members so they can explain what their role in the company is, their daily tasks, how they can collaborate with the new team members and their department, or other important info. Often these conversations spark ideas for collaboration. 

Assign a mentor or buddy for the new hire 

Everybody can use a friend in the workplace. A buddy can offer security and psychological safety to a new employee. Buddy programs for new hires are quite successful; research suggests they increase employee satisfaction and onboarding success. HCI reports that while 87% of organizations that implement a buddy program report improved new hire proficiency. Unfortunately, only 47% of organizations said they actually had one.

Assigning a buddy or mentor doesn’t have to be complicated. You can easily get started on a small scale by simply asking a team member to give the new employee a call or send a welcome email and offer to take them to lunch or coffee.

Define and share specific measurable goals for learning and mastery of certain information or activities within a timeframe

People need to understand what their goals are so they can focus on the right things and understand specifically when they are due so they know they are on track. They also need to be able to discuss their goals with their manager if they need clarification or more details.

Understanding why and how they fit into the big picture of the organization will help them start delivering even faster.

Carve out time every day in the first few months to check in with your new employee

These can be quick – an email, quick zoom or walk by their desk to see how they are doing, check in on their progress and identify any needs they have to do their job well. Here are examples of questions you could ask: 

  1. What is your favorite thing you learned today? Anything surprising?
  2. What was your biggest challenge?
  3. What is one thing you want to understand more about?

Give positive reinforcement

So often we focus on constructive criticism (aka where they need to improve and what needs to be done differently or better), especially as we’re trying to get people up to speed. This kind of feedback isn’t a bad thing but it needs to be balanced out by recognition of small wins and progress. Balanced feedback helps keep employees motivated and energized versus demoralized.

Onboarding is a crucial part of the employee experience and is too often overlooked. Devoting time and resources to your new hire’s onboarding experience results in happier, more productive employees who can hit the ground running and start contributing right away.

Want more tips for hiring managers? Check out our hiring manager toolkit!

Posted in , Hiring Managers