Set the tone for success with solid onboarding
Emphasize company culture starting on -– or even before –- day 1.
In the war for talent, there’s a great deal of importance placed on drawing in the right people, preparing an attractive offer and benefits package and making sure your potential new hires are a cultural fit for your company. You spend the time, the money and the executive attention focused on this process and getting employees as excited about joining as possible. These necessary steps create goodwill and seed company culture as people join your company.
But it turns out there’s one often overlooked area where the ball gets dropped when new people join – and that’s onboarding. While there’s a certain amount of paperwork and rote information that needs to be relayed, how you approach the onboarding process can have far-reaching effects on your company culture over the long term. New hires who have a good time onboarding can be almost three times as likely to feel “prepared and supported” in their job. Here’s how to set your company and new employees up for an enjoyable and maybe even meaningful experience when they join.
Create a plan
Successful onboarding requires a cohesive plan from many parts of the company. Though Human Resources (HR) will lead the charge, employees may be bombarded with requests, information or assignments from different parts of the company from accounting to their direct report. Take time with your HR team to pull all the steps together to create a more welcoming and, hopefully, less overwhelming experience for your new associate.
Once you’ve established all of the components needed, document these steps and the order they need to occur. Think about the employee’s experience of what needs to be done, and establish a reasonable cadence that will not overwhelm; this needs to feel like an intuitive journey by the employee. A documented agenda will go far to make an employee feel like there is a plan for them, and build in expectations about what to prepare for – and when.
Don’t forget the why
While you may be focused on the details and ticking off every necessary HR task for newcomers, don’t forget the overarching narrative of why you hired this person, what their presence will mean to your current employees and how everyone will connect. Meaningful interactions with their hiring manager, direct reports, parallel team members and even the executive team when appropriate will fill in the blanks and create an important sense of belonging.
Batching is one of the most effective tools in your belt when it comes to onboarding. Simply group several new hires with similar start dates together as a cohort; this is a powerful way to create context, connect employees with peers and avoid having to repeat information, wasting your executive time.
Batched new hires get a chance to interact with different facets of your company as well. A marketing manager, logistics worker and assistant may all start in the same week. They’ll have a chance to learn about other parts of the company and what each person does, as well as have a cohort of people in similar situations they can call on if they have questions. Creating and fostering this sense of community early goes a long way to cementing your company culture and helps employees already at the firm as new staff will already be oriented to the rhythms of the company.
Don’t forget the personal touches along the way in this process. A handwritten welcome card, logo-bedecked swag, a bouquet of flowers or a gift card and a note can help make the entire process feel connected and human.
Onboarding Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t put off onboarding. That can lead to new employees feeling ignored and disoriented.
- Do start the process before they show up for their first day – whether its virtual or remote.
Don’t ignore the structure of onboarding. The fastest way to fail onboarding is not to have structures and processes in place.
- Do create processes and a series of steps that are consistent for each hire.
Don’t forget a feedback loop.
- Do ask for thoughts and ideas for improvement during and after onboarding.
Don’t overwhelm new hires with too much information.
- Do streamline and reduced information to key items employees need right at the start like what time to report and where to park if on-site. Save more complex information for later in the process.
Don’t ignore generational and cultural differences.
- Do address different ways of being motivated and individualize those to the employee.
Don’t think of onboarding in a vacuum.
- Do think of and treat onboarding as an important part of building a cohesive culture and the final step in hiring.
- Talk to recent new hires and ask them what they liked and where you can improve going forward.
- Huddle with your HR team and review your current onboarding processes – ask for ideas from the team about how to better organize the experience for employees.
- Consider creating an onboarding binder for each new employee about what to expect with a handwritten welcome note from the CEO.
Sources: weworkremotely.com; forbes.com; elearningindustry.com; shrm.com; wavelength.asana.com; hbr.org; gallup.com