Posted by Caveo Learning ● April 16, 2015

Effective Employee Onboarding: Making It Count from Day 1

businesswelcomeThink back through your work experience: Can you recall a job you started where everything was done right? What happened?

Ideally, you were enthusiastically welcomed to the team, and your manager was prepared and ready to discuss the new-hire onboarding plan with you. Unfortunately, all too common is the unpleasant experience where your workspace isn't ready, everyone on your team forgot you were starting that day, and your new manager didn't even come by to greet you.

In the first scenario, you're a welcome addition, and your department is excited to have you join the team; in the second, you're an afterthought, or at least a low priority. Which picture do you want to paint for your employees?

An effective employee onboarding program can have positive effects on workforce retention, performance, and job satisfaction. The onboarding process can be the difference in your employees perceiving your company as a great place to work, not merely just a job.

A Good First Impression

Why is employee onboarding important? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It should be a priority to make new hires confident in their decision to join your organization. At our core, we all want to feel valued and make a difference in our roles.

Remember, your organization has made a significant investment in time and money to find the best candidates, hiring the one who outshined the rest. You want this employee to bring enthusiasm, pride, and positive momentum to the job on their first day and every day after, and it's up to you and your organization to set the tone.

There are three main goals when onboarding employees:
  • Make the employee feel welcome and at home
  • Prepare the employee for their role and job duties
  • Have regular check-ins with new employees

Make Employees Feel Welcome

Welcoming an employee is not about buying a fruit basket (not that there's anything wrong with a fruit basket). Being welcoming doesn’t have to cost a thing. There are a few simple actions you can take that will speak volumes about your commitment to your new employee.

Step 1: Be ready.

Make sure that the employee’s computer, phone, and any other important equipment are available to them. Make sure that their workspace is set up and ready for use. They will need login information. Have a colleague or member of the IT staff sit down with the employee and get them set up and ready to contribute.

The message you're sending: We're so glad we hired you, and we've been looking forward to having you join our team. We value your contribution!

Step 2: Arrange a big welcome from your team.

Write on the whiteboard or a greeting card, and have each member of the team write a short note. “We're so glad you're here. Welcome to the team!” It can be that simple. Or, it can be lunch with the team or just the manager. Also, introduce the employee around so they can start making connections and building their internal network.

The message you're sending: We're happy you're joining the organization, and you're a welcome addition to the team.

Step 3: Write an introductory email.

You can send an email to other departments, or if it's more appropriate, send a blast to all employees. Introduce the new employee to the team, explain their role, and list other details such as educational background, hobbies, contact information, and any other interesting or relevant information.

The message you're sending: We're excited to welcome this new person to our team. Come by and say hello!

Actions speak louder than words, so find the time to do these tasks, no matter how busy you are. If you skimp on this introductory phase, you may end up doing it over again soon with another new individual.

Prepare Employees for Their Role

Prepare for success. Employees need to understand their role, but over a period of time. Set attainable milestones for 30/60/90 days. Employees need to know what their formal duties are, as outlined in the job description. Be clear, too, about any informal expectations of their manager, and which administrative tasks they need to complete and at what frequency.

Your organization needs to have a new-hire training plan that spells out required learning & development topics, such as ethics, compliance training, and other mandatory training topics and policies. If there is mandatory training that has to be done right away, break it up over a period of days, if at all possible. Try not to bombard the employee with too much information on Day One, instead layering the information on top of a solid foundation of organizational knowledge.

Ideally, your employee onboarding training plan will have no more than four hours of formal training per day, broken up by one-on-one meetings with you, other members of the team, or other tasks such as sitting in on meetings and observing.

Check In Regularly with New Employees

Check in regularly with your new hires. This will help to ensure:

  • They have what they need and they are getting the support they need. Solicit questions or feedback. Follow along in their onboarding plan and make sure that they are progressing through the plan. Are they turning in required documents? Have they completed the required training?
  • They are engaged and understand their role. Ask probing questions, such as, "Is there anything that surprises you about the company or your role?" or "Have you identified any quick wins or projects that you would like to be involved in?"
  • They're receiving feedback and are able to have a two-way dialogue about performance goals. The key is to make employees feel valued, engaged, and part of the team. If issues or obstacles are identified early on, they are easier to overcome.
All in all, welcoming, preparing, and checking in with your new workers will add value to the employee onboarding experience. Managers who onboard properly will find themselves with a dream team of loyal, hardworking employees who strive for excellence and high performance. Managers who don’t will find themselves hiring and rehiring for the same position again and again.