Recent research by the Candidate Experience Awards in the US has highlighted some of the ways in which the most successful organisations make new employees feel valued and welcome.
“Employee onboarding”, as this process has come to be known, is the way in which you induct new staff members, and includes both gathering and imparting information to new recruits.
The way you handle this process can have a long-lasting impact on the employee’s performance, so it’s worth streamlining the process and making it as pleasant, welcoming, and memorable as possible for the new employee.
A report by the Candidate Experience Awards produced seven recommendations on how to make your employee onboarding process more people-friendly. I’ll discuss each recommendation here and give my thoughts (and examples where possible) about each one:
1. Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new hires to help them become acclimated to the workplace
The idea of a mentor for an employee’s first few days at work is nothing new, but there are some creative ways you can take this idea a step further and make that new hire’s first few days unforgettable.
For example, Silicon Valley tech startup Commerce Sciences has a tradition where the last person to join the team creates a “starter kit” for the next person who joins. The contents of the kit depends entirely on the creativity and ingenuity of the previous employee.
This is great for a small tech company, but how can larger companies institute an idea this “viral” when they may be onboarding dozens (or even hundreds) of new employees each week? Get thinking!
2. Ensure managers are actively involved in the onboarding experience, which will make new hires feel more engaged and that they are valued and important additions to the team.
We’ve all started a job and felt the old “us and them” forces at play. Nothing creates greater barriers to creativity and peak performance than the feeling that managers are in some ivory tower looking down on the common folk. This divide sets up an immediate feeling of powerlessness and resignation in new employees that will be hard to overcome.
The solution? Get managers involved in the induction process. They need to get their sleeves up and their hands dirty, showing new hires that they’re prepared to invest in them and that they recognise them as a welcome and valued addition to the team as a whole.
3. Discuss advancement opportunities up front so new hires can feel they have a future with the organisation.
Ever had that feeling that there was some invisible barrier between you and the next level up? Some employees spend years with a feeling of uncertainty about when or how they could get promoted. The result is a feeling of hopelessness and a resultant lack of desire to excel at one’s role.
The solution is to make it clear up front what opportunities for advancement are available, and the steps the new employee needs to take to make this a reality. It’s never too soon to have this conversation. Why not do it during an employee’s first week so they have something to strive for?
4. Socialise the employee by introducing him or her to new colleagues.
This seems like a no-brainer, but with so many things for a new employee to be learning and experiencing during the onboarding process, it’s easy to lose sight of the basics. So, make sure you formalise the introductory process by setting aside time for a new employee to meet and socialise with their peers. This could be formal or informal, and could mean the difference between a lonely, isolated introductory experience vs a welcoming and supportive new work environment.
5. Ensure the workstation is ready to go on the new hire’s first day.
Have you ever arrived for your first day at a new job only to find your boss say “Oh, we’re a bit disorganised – we haven’t organised your desk just yet!” Needless to say, this is not a great way to welcome a new team member and instil a sense of diligence and purpose.
As with many of the points on this list, it might be worth making someone within your organisation responsible for taking care of all these seemingly “minor” details so that your new hire’s onboarding experience is pleasant and lays the foundations for many years of loyalty and team spiritedness.
6. Set clear expectations and show how the position is critical to the success of the entire organisation.
Okay, so now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of what you actually expect from a new employee when it comes to their performance. Hopefully this will have been fairly well-defined during the interview process, but it’s important to reinforce just how they fit into your organisation and how you’ll be assessing their performance.
Get this right and you instil a sense of purpose and loyalty in new hires. Get it wrong and you could end up with your star new recruit feeling like just another cog in a machine, and wishing they’d taken that job with your competitor. It’s not hard to see which of these outcomes is preferable for the long-term success and satisfaction of your team.
7. Understand that the onboarding process should last at least for the new hire’s first 90 days, but it will be much more effective at six months to a year.
Onboarding isn’t a process that ends after a recruit’s first month or two. It needs to be an ongoing process that can last as long as their first twelve months in a new role. All of the points mentioned here should be mapped out with a level of intensity that diminishes over time. Too many companies see the onboarding process as something that stops after a very short period at the end of which the new employee is no longer the “new guy”.
New recruits need continued support in order to feel like a valued, trusted member of your team, so make an effort to chart out how the induction process is going to work over the long term – not just the first week.
We can see a common thread emerging here. Almost all of these points revolve around making new employees feel like a valued and heard member of your organisation. Organisations who take a “people first” approach and are able to put themselves into the shoes of new hires are the ones that will prosper when it comes to reaping the rewards of stellar onboarding.