We’ve all been there. You accept a new job. You’re filled with excitement, nervousness and a bit of trepidation. You step into the building with high hopes that your first day goes well. After all, your interview went swimmingly and your gut told you this was the right position to take. This job seems like the perfect fit and you can’t wait to roll up your sleeves and get started.
The sad truth.
You get to the building and realize you don’t know where to park. Nobody told you. You find a space and pull in, hoping you don’t get towed. When you walk up to the reception desk, the receptionist doesn’t know who you are and wasn’t given any warning that you were starting today.
You’re taken to an empty meeting room, where you sit waiting for someone to tell you where your workspace is. Finally, you’re taken to a cubicle. There’s a desk, but no phone. A computer, but no email. And a file cabinet, but no office supplies. While you sit there twiddling your thumbs, no one offers to show you around or take you to lunch.
God forbid you should have to use the restroom because you don’t know where that is.
Dejected and defeated, you question whether or not taking this job was the right decision.
A bad onboarding experience can leave a new employee with a negative impression and make them seek greener pastures elsewhere. In fact, 20 percent of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment.*
The last thing you want is to have your new hire walk out the door, forcing you to start the search all over again—losing both time and money. Currently, 35 percent of companies spend zero dollars on onboarding and $11,000 to hire someone.*
Do the right thing.
Getting onboarding right is difficult, so it’s important to put some time and effort into creating a process that sets up your new hire for success. Following are some tips to do that:
1. Appoint an onboarding ambassador
Designate someone in your company or on your team to be a new employee ambassador. A person that is there to welcome the new employee, introduce them to team members and their new space, and answer questions and provide support, like a wingman or a camp buddy. Ambassadors can help new hires “learn the ropes,” taking the time to explain all the little quirks of the company without taking everyone else away from the work at hand.
Prior to the new hire’s start date, email them a company handbook that includes information about its history, vision/mission/values, culture, products, team members, benefits, and policies. This helps avoid the first-day big “data dump” and generates excitement and engagement.
3. Make it digital or mobile
Put all required information online where it’s more easily accessed and searched before and after new hires start. This can include traditional forms to be filled out, post upcoming company events, and include team profiles. Having some of the paperwork done prior to the start date helps the new hire from being overwhelmed by information overload.
4. Set up the new hire’s office
Create a welcome sign, pre-order a nameplate, and give them some company swag, like a branded coffee mug filled with candies. Also, be sure to give them a clean desk and new office supplies. There’s nothing more depressing than taking over a desk that was previously occupied by someone who left moldy dishes in the drawers and piles of junk in the files.
5. Schedule a new hire orientation with HR
Sometime during the new hire’s first few weeks, schedule a sit down with your HR representative to go over things like payroll registration, security badges, and benefits.
6. Have the manager be present on the first day
New hires often feel unimportant and frustrated when their new manager is absent on their first day. The manager should be present and welcoming. They should also help the new hire create a “plan of action” for the first month. The new manager can share corporate success measures, departmental plans, strategies and goals, how performance will be assessed, bonus and promotion criteria and lay out what the expectations are during the first weeks and months on the job.
7. Onboard for each organizational level
It’s important for new hires to understand what’s critical at each level in the organization in terms of strategic direction, key challenges, emerging opportunities, top priorities, etc. These should be communicated at five levels: corporate, location, departmental, team, and individual. It gives the new hire a roadmap of how the business is structured and how their role fits into the big picture.
8. Start new hires the same day
Larger organizations often postpone onboarding and orientation until a large group of new hires can participate in a single session. However, any delay can negatively impact new hire productivity. A better approach is to have batches of new hires wait to start on the same day so that they can be onboarded in groups, maximizing resources and time.
9. Continuous improvement
Getting feedback about your onboarding activities is important for continuous improvement. So is reporting. Include metrics that cover time to productivity, retention/termination rates, new hire referrals, and ROI.
Summing It Up
Onboarding is about instilling a sense of belonging. It should help an employee identify with the company and feel like they’ve joined a family that welcomes them with open arms. If you can find ways of making people feel immediately invested in the company, your new hires will be inspired to give their all.