So, you’ve hired a new employee. As the employer, you have crossed your Ts and dotted your Is. The standard interview process has been conducted, the paperwork has been completed. Now, it’s time for your new employee to start her first day on the job.
It’s no secret that how you handle your employees — especially new ones — can make or break how your employees think about you and the company. Don’t waste opportunities to help cultivate your employees’ careers and overall attitudes about their job positions and futures.
Onboarding is a common occurrence during the orientation phase where a new employee decides if he or she wants to remain engaged or become disengaged, according to Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of the consulting firm The Interchange Group in Los Angeles.
Why should you care about onboarding?
You can potentially keep your employees in their positions for longer
Whether your new hire is a millennial with his first job or a seasoned veteran with 20 or more years of experience, you want to keep your employees for as long as you can. When you give them a positive on boarding experience, it tends to have positive effects on your company. According to statistics compiled by Click Boarding, and on boarding software company in Eden Prairie, Minn., new employees who go through a structured on boarding program were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after the three-year mark.
You can curb preconceived notions
If a new hire sits in an orientation meeting and is given an outdated brochure about your company or feels like you didn’t give him or her pertinent information, then that employee could begin to form negative thoughts about your management style, a coworker or the company in general. Typically, it takes employees about 90 days to feel comfortable and to prove themselves in their new job. The more at home they feel — and prepared to do their jobs — the faster they will be able to achieve performance goals and contribute to your company’s overall mission.
You get to talk about what you do
Everyone needs a refresher on a company’s mission, vision and other goals and objectives. Perfect the way you communicate about them by including them in your new hire orientation. Also, listen to what your new hires have to say. They may have some interesting insight to add about how you talk about your company in an elevator speech or that you need to communicate about something else entirely. Learn to tell your story, as well as your employee’s contributions to that story and their individual ones.
You have some new hires and want to prepare an orientation process that will help them buy into your company. How can you use onboarding to your advantage?
Plan your company’s initiation practices
Nothing tunes out new hires’ attention spans like a drawn-out initiation process, like mounds of paperwork and long-winded explanations about inner workings of the office and beyond. Don’t give your new hires outdated materials, and make sure all materials are professional. For example, don’t just write down things in scrawling handwriting on Post-Its and hand them off to your new hires. Give them printed-out and digital versions for their reference. After all, it’s challenging to remember everything on the first day — and even up to the first month.
Involve all of your employees
If you are the CEO or human resource representative within your company, don’t try to handle the on boarding process on your own. The more collaborative you are with your current employees and new hires, the more cohesive your approach will be. For example, if you just hired a new public relations associate, it makes sense to meet with each of your employees to see how a PR position could help them spread the word about what they do within the office and outside of it. That way, you will formulate a more developed plan when you talk with your new hires about job objectives and expectations.
If you are met with some resistance from managers and other employees, outline the benefits of a good onboarding experience with them.
Focus on the experience
According to Talya Bauer, Ph.D., author of Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success, part of the SHRM Foundation's Effective Practice Guidelines Series, there are four distinct levels of onboarding:
- Compliance. At this level, HR teaches new employees about legal and policy-related issues.
- Clarification. HR makes sure that new employees understand their new role along with the related expectations.
- Culture. HR focuses on exposing new hires to the organizational values and norms.
- Connection. HR connects new hires to personal relationships and information networks.
Using technology during the above processes is vital, but don’t lose the one-on-one communication touch. Nothing will cause a new hire (or employee, in general) to lose faith in your leadership and organization like a lack of communication.
Invest in career development
Your employees appreciate the stability your organization gives them, but they also want to grow in their profession, too. While research indicates that millennials “job hop,” it’s not always as negative as it is perceived. They are focused on learning and growth during the beginning stages of their careers. No matter the age or experience level, focus on career development opportunities for your employees. New hires can achieve career development early in the form of rotational assignments, cross-training and platforms to showcase their ideas. As an employer or HR representative, add teaching, training and coaching to your on boarding processes.
Savvy employers can build career development into the orientation process by showing these newbies how they can contribute to the organization while also advancing their own career goals. After the initial orientation, survey new employees for feedback to ensure that their expectations are being met and, if necessary, tweak the process. After that, weekly check-ins allow for course corrections and send the message that the organization cares about them and is invested in their growth.