You spend a lot of time on hiring practices, making sure you select just the right employees. It is equally important to invest in “onboarding,” or bringing new hires into their jobs with enthusiasm, engagement, and commitment. This process isn’t just making them feel comfortable on the first day. It begins when your job offer is accepted. Ben Peterson, CEO of Bamboo HR, says “if we don’t worry about onboarding before the employee starts, then we’re way behind.”
Take steps to welcome your new staff member before that all-important first day. Some employers are setting up new hire online portals to begin building relationships in that transition period between the acceptance of the job offer and the arrival of your new employee. Even without that high-tech option, there are simple but effective ways to make a new staff member feel like a valued member of the team.
- Send a handwritten note of welcome! Depending on the size of your organization, this can come from the CEO, the hiring manager, or even a peer. One new employee received a welcome note from a member of her interview panel; when she left that job 17 years later, that note was still a treasured piece in her personal files.
- Consider sending an information packet with answers to typical new hire questions. This could include where to enter the building on Day 1, who to ask for, and what to wear. Include a list of lunch options from the company lunchroom to nearby restaurants.
- Make sure that your new employee’s work area is set up, phone and email directories are available, and computer passwords and login information is ready.
On Day 1, begin building relationships and clarify the expectations of the job. This is much more than the usual first day rituals of benefit discussions and signing papers. In fact, if you can do all that employment paperwork ahead of time, it’s even better! This is the time for the immediate supervisor or even a higher-level manager to provide an official welcome, then introduce the employee to the vision, goals, and objectives of the organization. Explain how the new employee’s position supports those objectives as you review job expectations.
Create some social opportunities. Introduce the employee to new coworkers, perhaps over coffee and doughnuts. If possible, make sure the new staff member isn’t alone for lunch. Assign a coworker to be a buddy or mentor—someone who can answer questions from corporate culture to holiday schedules to reminders of where another department is located. The Aberdeen Group found that high performing organizations are most likely to assign a mentor or coach during the onboarding process.
Onboarding doesn’t end after that first week—or even the first month. The new hire’s mentor should check in regularly and ensure inclusion in team communications, both formal and informal. The immediate supervisor should have regular, informal touch base meetings to make sure training needs are met, that the employee remains comfortable in the position and that learning milestones are achieved.
At one month, and again at about six months, an HR manager should meet with the employee to see if there are questions or concerns. Ideally, the onboarding process continues through the first year, establishing effective and positive work team relationships along with regular check-ins with immediate supervisors, HR, and top management. Everyone likes to be recognized!
Assuming all has gone as planned, a meeting at year’s end should be a celebration of accomplishments and success. This meeting represents a transition from training to ongoing professional development, from being the “new kid on the block” to someone establishing a career. Hiring staff is an expensive proposition. Your yearlong investment in your new employee is an investment in your organization’s future.