In Stacy Lindenberg’s article for Learning Solutions Magazine, she cites research that 90% of new hires decide whether they’ll stay with a company in the first six months. That onboarding process can turn a good hire into an amazing employee, or you could be back to interviewing before the year is out.
What I learned from this article
Lindenberg makes the great point that onboarding goes beyond an orientation course. It spans a person’s first few weeks, maybe even months, to provide the information and support they need to operate well in your company. She offers suggestions for improving onboarding using tools most business already have.
Here are three key points that resonated with me:
- Start onboarding before Day 1.
- Actively help new employees build social connections.
- Use automation you already have to minimize extra work.
Start onboarding before day 1.
The first day of work is often overwhelming. New employees face endless paperwork, a flow of new names and faces, and a sea of office cubicles that defy navigation. You can mitigate the stress by sending out paperwork beforehand and having key team members call or email new folks to welcome them.
It’s important to be prepared on your end as well. Before they arrive, ensure they’ll have equipment, desk space, access to the network, and anything else they need to start working. If you need their presence to accomplish this, see if they can come in a couple days early for an hour or so. It just makes everything go more smoothly on day 1.
Actively help new employees build social connections.
We often forget how important it is to build a good social network in a new company. A network supports newcomers as they navigate processes and systems. But it’s not always easy to meet people, especially for introverts.
So a good onboarding program will have a formal way for new folks to reach out and for key team members to connect with them. Those relationships can play a huge role in how well employees do in the first few months.
Lindenberg even makes the point that you don’t want to sit a new person down with 30 hours of self-paced introductory courses without making time for human interaction and reflection with managers.
Use automation you already have to minimize extra work.
Lindenberg offers a long list of common technologies that can help with onboarding, such as using communication systems to automate email, providing dress code info and other logistics on the website, recording welcome videos, and using cloud communication to network with distributed teams.
The point is that beefing up your onboarding doesn’t have to require a lot of extra work or expensive new tools. You just have to decide with your team what you want people to accomplish in their first few weeks and months and make sure they have the guidance and support to get there.
So many companies take a relaxed approach to onboarding that I think new employees expect to feel lost and overwhelmed in the first day or so. And many employers think they’re just too busy to manage a robust onboarding process. But how much extra time does it take to interview new people because you lost the ones you’ve just hired? And how much faster might new folks become productive if they have better early support?
Also, I applaud Lindenberg’s focus on the social needs of new employees. I worked for a company once that insisted new employees walk from office to office introducing themselves on the first day. Besides being an artificial and uncomfortable exercise, I didn’t remember any of those names after day 1. Perhaps a more organized approach of meeting key folks over several days or weeks would have made the adjustment easier.
Finally, I agree that good on boarding doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Most managers I’ve seen have no formal system, so they scramble when a new employee shows up. If you build it into a process, it doesn’t take as much effort as you might think, and the benefits pay off.
Thanks to Stacy Lindenberg for a terrific article with practical and useful onboarding tips.
At Pract.us, we’re dedicated to helping you easily build and execute an onboarding process encompassing training, orientation, and social network development. Learn more.