Many employers still make the mistake of putting new hires straight into their roles, expecting them to settle in on their own as if they’ve worked there for months! It’s surprising how little thought goes into onboarding, especially at large companies where they have the resources to do the job properly.
I’ve worked for organisations where onboarding consisted of having new starters shadow someone for a day or two, (if they weren’t too busy), and that was that! Poor onboarding can be costly, with new hires taking longer than necessary to reach full productivity or leading to people leaving very quickly, especially if they’re good. Considering the cost, time and effort of finding the right person in the first place, a thorough plan for getting a new starter up to speed should be high on the agenda.
In case you were thinking it, onboarding isn’t just for large organisations. Having worked in both large and small companies, I’ve had the opportunity to see its effectiveness in both. Even in smaller businesses, it’s a fantastic opportunity to not only settle the new member of the team in, but to have them become productive and happy employees far quicker. We’re not talking about a quick orientation here; walk them around the building, introduce them to a few people along the way and give them a copy of the company handbook, then leave them to fend for themselves. Onboarding goes beyond this, as the first few weeks are crucial to embedding the business’ culture into the new starter.
Here are my steps to onboarding a new team member and seriously increasing their odds of success in the business;
- 1. Even before they start, send a letter or email, or call them to confirm the details of any parking, the dress codes, their start date and time and, if possible, the name of an onboarding partner/buddy who can help them with any issues in their first few weeks.
- 2. Allocate them an onboarding buddy who shows them around the building, introducing them to people as they go, and shows them where all the amenities are. They’re also on hand to answer any questions they may have and check that they’re doing okay. This is crucial, as there’s nothing worse than a brand new member of the team sitting at their desk, looking around wondering what to do and who to speak to.
- 3. Set up a ‘new starter meet & greet team’. This can be just one or two people, or more depending on the size of your organisation, who are great examples of what the company stands for, who live your company values and really embody the culture you want to promote. They meet every new employee and give a personal account of their time in the business as well as a description of what it’s like to work there and what’s expected. They can also be called upon for help if the new hire’s onboarding buddy isn’t available and they need advice. This is a fantastic way to embed people into your company’s culture. It’s also great for the confidence of the employee who can hit the ground running much faster, knowing there’s help on hand.
- 4. It’s a great idea to have already filled the employee’s calendar for the first week or two. Book in meetings with any members of staff they’ll be working regularly with in other departments and have them meet the senior team and directors, even briefly, as this lets them know everyone in the business values them as a member of the team and has a genuine interest in them being successful. Remember the first few days of a new hire’s experience with your company is going to lay the foundations of their impression of your business. If your attitude towards your onboarding is one of disinterest or is something cobbled quickly together, it will be evident to the employee.
- 5. Establish a well thought out training plan that takes into account different learning styles (see Honey and Mumford), and gives the new hire time to practice and absorb what they’ve learnt (see Kolb’s learning cycle).
If you do this, every new person will see that you genuinely care about their experience, and you’ll significantly raise your chances of having highly productive and happy team members, who embody your culture.