New employees come with a variety of different backgrounds, experiences, and expectations. It’s so important to create a comprehensive and inviting onboarding process specific to your company to help integrate new hires successfully into your company culture.
The onboarding process has traditionally been a fairly short process for companies; oftentimes not exceeding two weeks. More frequently, you will now see extended onboarding processes that are much more involved and specific to the company. Every company is different, so it’s important for new employees to know why and how your company is unique, and how they are going to fit into your existing structure and culture.
Employees are essential to the success of your company. It’s very important to prioritize clear communication and proper training with new employees to ensure that they understand their roles and are set up to be successful contributors to the company and team.
Now that you’re clear on why onboarding is so important, you can start thinking about ways you could create a more engaging and supportive onboarding process for your new hires. Start by thinking about what makes your company different and special, and be sure to create a process that highlights the elements of your culture that are sure to differ from environments your new hires have worked in before. When thinking of your onboarding process, it may be helpful to look at your process chronologically. You should start your onboarding process as soon as the offer has been accepted.
Essential Onboarding Tactics to Ensure a Successful New Hire
Communication Before Day 1
A great way to kick off training for a new hire is to reach out prior to their first day starting at your company. New jobs can create a lot of anxiety and stress surrounding new expectations, so it can be informative and comforting for the new employee if they hear from you prior to their first day. This doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth, it can be a brief email outlining what they can expect their first day to look like.
This will also open up communication and show the company’s excitement for the new hire to begin. This email or phone call should also include essential information, such as their new email address, passwords, login information, apps, portals, etc. so they can be as prepared as possible for their first day.
Aside from communicating essential work information, you could also create “Icebreaker cards” for the new hire to fill out so that the team members they will be working closely with can know a little bit about them and their background. This is a great way to be welcoming to the new hire and to learn a little bit about who the team members will be spending a lot of time with.
You can also work with your team to make a creative roadmap or manual that will guide the new hire through the processes for getting their at-home tasks completed. This can be especially helpful in a remote workplace. As your company may be adjusting to the new normal of at-home work, training remotely can be uncharted territory. This makes roadmaps and guidelines all the more helpful for both the trainers and trainees.
Another way to welcome new employees is through a welcome video. This could include a video from the management team, expressing their excitement for the new hire and outlining the onboarding process for the new employee. Be sure to include title cards so that the new hire can see each individual’s name and title. This will help ease the transition of meeting everyone, and videos are especially helpful because the new hire can rewatch it whenever they want and use it as a tool moving forward.
Create an Engaging First Day
Many companies do not continually update training practices, and sometimes training can fall to the wayside. It’s easy to not prioritize training when you have a busy schedule, however, training is vital to properly prepare new employees, which will ultimately lighten everyone’s load and make room for new ideas and updating other processes used within the company that may be outdated.
Be sure to have a training structure laid out, and share this with the new employee. Ideally, this would have been sent prior to their first day in the pre-first day onboarding email, but if not, be sure to give them a written document outlining their first day. The first day can be mostly introductory, being sure to engage them in any meetings, introduce them to co-workers and supervisors, and fill them in on any information that their colleagues would be talking about and/or working on.
Another great way to welcome a new employee is to plan a lunch activity or meeting so the employee will not eat alone and will have a chance to socialize with their new co-workers in a relaxed setting. You could also set up a simple scavenger hunt, or tour, to introduce the new employee to the office space. This will help them familiarize themselves with the workplace, and help them know where to locate items they will be using frequently.
The key to the first day in the onboarding process is to welcome the new hire and make them as comfortable as possible to help ease their transition into their new role and into the team. New hires will greatly appreciate this, and you will have an employee who is set up to successfully integrate into the pre-existing company culture seamlessly.
A common tactic in training is shadowing someone who is experienced in the role that the new hire will be starting in. This is a great way to first introduce the new employee to the tasks they will be completed, and the applications they will be working in, however, it is important to transition into interactive training fairly quickly. It has been proven that hands-on learning helps the student understand the material better and more quickly.
Create opportunities for the trainee to work hands-on as early as possible. Be sure to schedule out more time than usual for certain tasks to allow the new hire to engage, ask questions, and try the tasks themselves. A common mistake in training is for the trainer to be expected to carry on with their day as usual, while training the new hire. This will not leave room for the trainee to fully understand the material.
Training days should be flexible to allow the trainer to spend more time on areas the new hire is struggling with, and to shorten training sessions in which the new hire picked up the tasks quickly. Everyone is different, and the training sessions should support a variety of different trainees’ needs.
You can also have the new hire work with a variety of different employees throughout training. This will expose them to more employees, help break up their day, and create engagement with more people and a variety of tasks. A helpful tool is to create a spreadsheet outlining the various tasks that the employee needs to learn. Mark off tasks completed as you go, including notes on how the employee is doing in each area so that as they train with different team members, all of the trainers are aware of which areas are more troubling than others and can address those accordingly.
It’s common for companies to only train for around two weeks. This is often not enough time to thoroughly train and onboard a brand new employee, especially for high-skill jobs. It is unreasonable to expect a “fully trained employee” who is two weeks into their role to perform at the same level as someone who has been working at your company and in their role for years. Consider extending your onboarding and training period, or have a slow and gradual transition from training to a full employee.
It can be frustrating to extend the training process; many management teams are eager to get a new employee up and running, contributing their full potential to help the company. However, rushing through training can lead to unreasonable expectations, pressure and unhappiness from the new employee, and a high turnover rate.
Remember that onboarding new hires is a marathon, not a sprint, and long-term goals are more important than short-term pay-off. To create an extended training process, you can have a weekly or biweekly check-in during the introductory period. This time can be used to go over progress and concerns. You can also have an ongoing weekly task sheet that can be extended to introduce a new skill or process to help build the new hire’s abilities and skills week by week.
Ask for Feedback
Have consistent and open conversions with new hires to understand how you could improve your onboarding practices, and also to give them an opportunity to tell you what else would help them be successful at your company. You should always be looking for ways to improve your onboarding process, and the best critics of the process are those who have just gone through it. Keep in touch with the new hire, speaking frequently throughout onboarding, and even set up times to meet up to discuss progress following the end of the onboarding process.
Your onboarding process should be constantly growing, just as your company is constantly growing. A great tool to use is an onboarding grading sheet, leaving room for additional comments and ideas that would help make the transition easier for the new employee. You could also have the employee create their own onboarding checklist of things they would like for their trainer to expand upon and learn more about.
Speak About Advancement
Advancement is usually on a new hire’s mind pretty early on. They want to know that they are hitching themselves to a company that will offer them opportunities to move up and forward in their careers. Have a conversation early on about professional development and potential future opportunities, and what role they would like to see themselves in in the future.
Even though the new hire might be years away from a promotion, the possibility of advancement is important to employees and will encourage them to be loyal and continue on within your company, rather than looking for advancement elsewhere.
You should also encourage professional development by working closely with your team and developing skills that could be useful for the employees as well as the team as a whole. This could be achieved through workshops, guest speakers, or retreats. You could also create an interactive review sheet that has outlines for career paths, specific to each employee, and to have a training schedule for even seasoned employees to be able to brush up on their skills or even add some new tools to their wheelhouse.
There are so many effective and engaging ways to onboard a new employee, and starting off on the right foot with new hires is more important than ever. Company culture has grown to be a very important factor when people are searching for jobs, and prospective/new employees will welcome an interactive training process over the traditional handbook-style onboarding that has become outdated.
Engage your current team, and prompt them to submit ideas for how they think onboarding in your company could be improved. Ask them to think back about how they felt about their first day starting with your company; what they liked and didn’t like, what helped and didn’t help, and then grow from there.
Your onboarding process should be as unique as your company and team. When you have a process put in place that is welcoming and engaging for a new employee, you’ll see new hires have positive attitudes, integrate well into the team, and succeed in their new roles.
Partnering With Experts
When you’re ready to begin hiring your next team member, partner with a search firm that puts your company culture on display to find the ideal candidate. Connect with us today to discuss how we can add value to your employee search process.