Make It or Break It: 9 Tips for New Hire Onboarding Done Right

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In an expansion-stage company, where cultural fit is one of the keys of success (and retention) for employees, onboarding is a vital part of ensuring a positive candidate/employee experience. Early impressions are key in driving the values of the company and employees need to know what’s expected of them — if you do not set expectations from day one (in truth, from the interview process), there will be confusion or worse down the line.

Is Your Onboarding Process Turning Off New Hires?

What is onboarding? Let’s start with what it’s not — a one-off stint on the first day. The way you should really be thinking about employee onboarding is as an ongoing process for the employee to become acclimated to the company culture and his or her role within the organization.

Employee onboarding also involves more than just paperwork. It includes making sure your new employees have access to everything they need, including technology, internal resources, and people, so they can take the time to explore and get up to speed. Without a proper onboarding process, new hires can become quickly overwhelmed, second-guess their choices, and segregate themselves from other employees.

The transition into a new job is a time of vulnerability for new hires, and for your company. Make sure it goes smoothly by following the suggestions below.

9 Tips to Improve Your New Hire Onboarding Process

  1. Include more than the hiring manager and HR: When joining a team, others members of the team should each spend time with the new hire, whether it’s allowing them to shadow calls, train on new systems, or going over clients to transition work.
  2. Introductions: If you can, have a group lunch so the new hire can meet others in a more social setting, as opposed to the standard desk drop-by. If this isn’t possible, be sure to introduce the new hire to other groups within the company.  If someone on your team is especially communicative or social, have that person run the introductions. Nothing is more awkward for a new employee than a tour with someone who is not enthusiastic or who is socially awkward.
  3. Give new employees access to an organization chart: Or show them where to find company information on your website or intranet. This will allow them to understand where they fit within the team, department, and organization as a whole. It will also allow them a point of reference to use when getting to know the company.
  4. Be mindful of your attitude: Your attitude towards welcoming new hires not only impacts their perception of the company, it also has an effect on the attitude they will have towards others. The values you evidence — in the way you communicate the culture and the environment you create for new hires — will play a huge role in their comfort within the company.
  5. Show them where to go for help: This can be as simple as letting them know you (the hiring manager, teammates, HR, etc.) are there if they have any questions or need guidance from anything ranging from where to grab a good sandwich to how to use a particular function within a system. Many companies have a formal “buddy” system. I recommend something more informal so the new hire has a chance to build up a relationship before a “buddy” is pushed on him/her as a requirement. Helping new employees build relationships within the company will make them feel much more invested in their work and the company.
  6. Create a new hire playbook: If you can, have a short playbook of best practices and guidelines handy. In the first few weeks (if not longer) there are many, many questions that will come up from new hires. Creating a guide for them will help to answer questions before they even come up.
  7. Establish clear responsibilities, expectations, and goals: Have these written out and communicate them directly to all new hires.
  8. Schedule a check-in meeting: At the end of weeks 1-2, meet one-on-one with the hire. This way, the new hire knows there is a set, scheduled time to go over their questions. Having a set time to retrospect on the progress made will decrease the number of interruptions to your workflow.
  9. Ask for feedback: After the first week, two weeks, and 30-60-90 days, solicit feedback from the new hire. Talk about any wins or loses.

Employee onboarding is about support. For new hires to be successful, it is important to help new employees acclimate to the culture, understand their role and expectations, and to know that the company is there the support them in achieving success.

What new hire onboarding tips would you add to the list?