When a new employee starts at your firm, you should innately have a sense of wanting to help them through the initial stages of the job. Getting to know their colleagues, helping them into the swing of things work-wise and making sure they have the tools and systems to do the job in the first place.
So why is it that so many companies do little to nothing at all with no proper onboarding process? Do they not know the costs of having to replace someone? Onboarding starts before the new person starts, in fact it is best organised just after the time of deciding to hire.
Everyone has to pitch in
The difference between an onboarding process and a simple orientation day is that current staff members actually come to you as the new hire, as opposed to them “being there for you”. Management have a huge commitment to upload here – many people who leave in the first six months of a job quote a lack of support from their bosses.
Also, instead of writing a long-winded and quickly-outdated employee orientation manual, write a short one and get colleagues to explain the rest. It changes so often and the knowledge is very tacit, meaning that it doesn’t easily transfer by reading a book or manual.
It takes months, not weeks or days
People need a friendly environment, good training, clear guidelines and support from everyone, including management, preferably for a period of a few months. Simply giving someone a desk with electronic gadgets and a training manual is not going to work. Also, once the employee is aware of what exactly they have to complete and achieve, they still have to feel adequately comfortable within the group of people they will interact with on a daily basis.
Here are some more pointers about preparing onboarding for new hires:
- Onboarding starts before the employee gets there. Ever arrive for your first day and have to jump over countless hurdles just to get to where you have to be? You shouldn’t have to guess where to park to who to report to.
- Get paperwork done upfront. If you have forms for new employees and contracts to sign, etc, get this all done before they start, or schedule a meeting right on the first day to get it over with. There is nothing worse than extra admin for someone who hasn’t even begun to work.
- Make sure the tools of the trade are ready. The workspace that the employee needs and everything they need to do their job should be ready for them the minute they start.
- Make the guidelines clear. Every staff member has to know what they have to achieve to get paid – that’s why they are there. Make it clear what the deliverables are for your new hire.
- Be available. As a manager, be there and add in buffers on the time you allocate to a new hire. Meet with them a few times in the first week even, just to be sure that they know hat is expected of them. Don’t forget the psychological contract! As a colleague, you should be there for them too, actively going to them and asking (perhaps once a week?) if they are OK and if they need anything.
- Have their training ready. Everyone needs to be trained on something and this should be planned carefully upfront.
- Keep things light. There is no reason to over-stress or overwhelm a new employee. Give them enough time to assimilate into the working place and gain some momentum.
What to include in onboarding welcome packs
It’s always nice to get something that feels like a present on the day you start. But while that may make the first day a bit better, what is really important is having the tools you need to do the job. After all, you’ve come there to work. So if all you need is a computer, then that’s all there should be.
Often this depends on the industry you work in, however if I was to start a new job tomorrow with my tools and only a coffee cup with my name on it, I’d be super happy. In fact, I recall exactly that, without the cup, but with an introduction to an amazing coffee machine. So the message is clear here: a funky or bonus employee starter pack of “goodies” doesn’t make for excellent onboarding right away.
Side note: Stop bragging about gadgets
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a post on LinkedIn where someone shows a photo of their desk when they started on their first day and starts bragging, I’d be a billionaire. Just stop it – it makes you look like “things” are more important than the work you do.
All in all, onboarding is key to a successful hire and a company built on its biggest asset: its people. By being available and planning the necessary tools and training properly, you can have any employee starting and fitting in very well.