The first day on the job can be scary.
Any employee onboarding process should take into account how intimidating the first day on the job can be. With a quarter of the U.S. population undergoing a career transition every year, it’s an experience we all share.
Imagine all the thoughts your new hires have as they walk in for their first day on the job. They’re likely worried about fitting in, making a good first impression, and proving up to the task. That’s why it’s so important to have an onboarding process to welcome new employees.
But onboarding new employees doesn’t just happen.
Onboarding new hires is a deliberate effort that starts before someone even applies for a position. It takes structure, planning, managers’ time, and investment into web and HR resources. But the payoff is that employees who encountered a structured employee onboarding program were 69 percent more likely to stay on. Companies have also reported that onboarding programs improve retention by 25 percent and employee performance by 11 percent.
The basic building blocks of an employee onboarding process.
What qualifies as a structured employee onboarding process? Here are 15 steps to get you started.
#1. Prepare an onboarding path beforehand.
You can’t expect new hires to walk in and already be up to speed on everything. Not without help. Onboarding takes time, which is why it’s viewed as a months-long process. Don’t mistake onboarding for orientation, which typically refers to a new employee’s first week. Orientation is a single step in the onboarding process. While you build out your plan, start by asking yourself: what would an ideal onboarding look like?
#2. Begin onboarding on your careers page.
Your careers page should do more than list jobs, locations, and qualifications. To incorporate it into your employee onboarding process, it should provide essential information about your company. Before applicants submit their resumes, you want them to already have a feel for the brand. Publish information about company culture, benefits, values, and community engagement.
#3. Create an online company organization chart.
You meet so many people your first day, and you know they all fit into the company’s organization chart. But you’re not sure how. This is the case for seasoned employees as well. “What department does so-and-so belong to?” That’s why many organizations create an internal hub with a directory of employee profiles. These profiles usually contain employees’ titles and contact information. The hub should also have an updated organizational chart so new and veteran employees alike know who is responsible for what.
#4. Anticipate the information the new hire will need.
A new hire has questions, but might feel uncomfortable asking them. They don’t know you, or what you might conclude if they ask about benefits, policies, and the dress code. To reduce friction during the onboarding process, ask your recent hires what concerns or questions they had. Record the most common questions in a document, add some answers, and send them out as a FAQ email to your new hires.
#5. Send a welcome email, along with legal and other documents.
You might also want to send a simple, personalized welcome letter along with the formal offer letter and the FAQ email. It’s never too early to reach out and build a relationship with a new hire. Many experts also recommend sending legal and HR documents to new hires before they start. That way, you get much of the boring paperwork out of the way.
#6. Have the new hire’s desk, equipment, etc. ready on day one.
When you start a job, the LAST thing you want is to sit around and look like you’re doing nothing. But that’s what many new hires end up doing while they wait for basic tools like a desk, a computer, a phone, email, etc. That’s why you should have everything set up for new hires from the get-go—even if they spend the first day, or days, in orientation. This communicates to new hires how essential they are and how much they’re already valued.
#7. Introduce them to the tools they’ll use.
Along with setting up your new hires’ desks, make sure they have access to the tools and resources they’ll need in their new positions. Create accounts and provide them with the necessary training. Present them with any specific style guidelines or other materials unique to your company.
#8. Send an email out to announce the new hire.
Pave the way for your new hire by sending out an email to your employees or department. Inform them about new hires: what they’ll be doing and how you’d like them to receive a warm welcome. That way, your team is aware of any new hires and can make a concerted effort to make him or her feel welcome.
#9. Prepare a formal orientation.
Plan out what will happen on the employee’s first day. What are your priorities? What needs to happen? How can you help the new hires feel welcome?
Many companies deliver presentations on the company’s history, mission, and values. These help the employee feel part of the family, but personalize the presentation as much as possible. Help the employee connect the dots between his or her day-to-day duties and the company’s goals.
Additionally, surprise new hires on their first day with something fun. Take them out to lunch. Present them with a small gift or some swag. Introduce them to a cultural perk unique to your company. Send them home that first day with a good impression.
#10. Don’t overwhelm them on the first day.
As you prepare a formal orientation, you usually have a lot of ground to cover. The temptation is to try to cram it all in and get it done. But don’t overwhelm new employees with too much information. Don’t make them sit through endless slideshows, orientation videos, etc. Take frequent breaks during orientation—including giving them a tour of the facilities.
#11. Give them the tour.
The tour is a practical opportunity to explore the offices, introduce new hires to co-workers, and answer basic questions. “Here’s the coffee machine. And the copier. Kick it if it’s not working. If it makes a funny noise, ask Kevin here for help. Office supplies are here. If you run out, ask Cathy to order more. Snacks are available back here in the break room. If they run out, blame Greg.”
#12. Address the little things.
Little questions and concerns will occur to your new hires throughout their first few days and weeks. At least, they may seem little to you. To the new hire, they could be a barrier to performing well and making a good impression. But they’re afraid to ask because the topic was covered during orientation. New hires don’t want to look like they weren’t paying attention. But there’s no way they’ll retain that firehose of information they received during orientation. Make sure you or someone (like the mentor mentioned below) is available and willing to answer questions—even if it’s about little things.
#13. Provide a mentor.
It’s handy to have someone your new hire can go to for any questions or problems. In the short term, having a mentor can help a new hire adjust and receive answers to basic questions. In the long term, it’s also a way to build a relationship between co-workers.
#14. Schedule regular check-ins.
Every process has its flaws. Not every step will run smoothly. That’s why it’s so essential to check in with new hires at regular intervals. This is where the 30, 60, 90, 120-day milestones come into play. Before asking about the job and goals and all that, ask after the employee’s personal well being. Prioritizing the person before the job helps build a rapport that will contribute to retaining that valuable new hire.
#15. Request feedback on the onboarding process.
At each milestone checkup, ask for feedback on the employee onboarding process. Press them about what worked and what didn’t. If you make changes based on that employee’s feedback, let him or her know and thank them for the valuable input.
Win new employees over with the latest technology.
Over the coming years, chances are you’ll hire millennials to fill your positions. They’re set to take their place as the largest generational demographic in the workforce, and they expect a structured onboarding process. Part of that is providing them with the technology they need to succeed, like a cloud phone system. Discover the business advantages a cloud phone system offers by downloading our whitepaper.