Dictionary definition of the word Onboarding highlighted with green marker pen.

3 Tips for Successfully Onboarding New Hires

Onboarding has been on my brain nonstop the last couple of months.  Between working with two clients heavily on their onboarding programs and onboarding a new employee to Horizon Point, I’m beginning to even dream about onboarding tactics!

Whether you are a company of three or a company of 30,000, onboarding can make or break employee engagement and retention even before day one.

Having an onboarding strategy that is executed well starts with a plan that includes:

  1. Realizing onboarding starts before the start date. Several things need to take place before the person even begins on day one.  This includes taking care of:
    • New hire paperwork beforehand. Make sure the first day isn’t spent filling out a W-4 and other boring material.  Nothing kills first day excitement more than a stack of paperwork to sit and complete. Give this to the employee beforehand and have them come prepared with it the first day.  Better yet, use an onboarding platform to do all of this electronically and have it integrated into your HRIS system seamlessly.   Two programs I would recommend if you don’t have an HRIS system or need something that is good at the onboarding portion of this are Namely and Paylocity.
    • Sharing logistical information beforehand. Providing information about where to be when, where to park, and an agenda for at least the first day of work should be delivered to the new hire at least one week prior to their start date. If you onboard frequently, consider creating an FAQ for this step.
    • Equipment set-up. Make sure the new hire’s computer, phone, email address, and any office supplies needed are ordered, set-up and ready to use on day one.  Don’t make the person handle it by himself or herself and or try to figure it out.  That begins day one with frustration instead of ending in excitement like it should.
  2. An emphasis on culture. One of the main reasons to get all of the pre-work done is because it does nothing to enhance your company culture for the new hire.  Time during the first day and week should focus on instilling the company culture in new hires.   Orientation should include:
    • Introductions and welcome from key leadership. This doesn’t mean your HR generalist.
    • Communication from company leadership about company values and priorities. We recommend doing this through videos and case studies instead of through a potentially boring and abstract presentation about them.   Incorporate some type of activity to help the new hire internalize and practice the company’s values and purpose.
    • A tour of the facility and introductions to the team. We recommend a meal should be provided on the first day of the onboarding that allows for conversation and relationship building with other team members.
  3. Establishing Expectations. At least 1-2 hours of the person’s first day should involve one-on-one time with their direct leader.   This time should be spent in relationship building and establishing expectations.  Ideas to include are the following:
    • Discussion on the cultural components that have already been discussed and how the leader sees these playing out in the person’s day-to-day activities.
    • Some type of activity around goal setting. Go over the person’s job description, how their performance will be measured (show them the form if you have an official appraisal) and discuss how this all relates to the person’s career aspirations.   As Glassdoor’s Why Do Workers Quit report states: “We find that job title stagnation hurts employee retention. Every additional 10 months an employee stagnates in a role makes them 1 percent more likely to leave the company when they finally move on to their next position.”  Don’t pretend that career development isn’t a part of a manager’s job.  It begins on day one of a person’s tenure with your company and you should begin by discussing it sooner rather than later.
    • Establish regular one-on-one check-ins to continually review goals and expectations.

Onboarding should focus on capitalizing on a person’s excitement about their new role and direct that excitement towards actionable plans to achieve company results.

What is your best advice for a successful onboarding?

Mary Ila Ward

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