Onboarding a new employee is an important part of life as a manager. If you’ve just hired from outside the organisation, there’s a chance that for that new person, the first few weeks will be feeling a mix of excitement and fear.
You want them to come away with a good impression of the company (and you as their manager). They want to settle into their new job quickly and feel confident they can add value. If that new person is someone moving internally, don’t leave them off the onboarding list. Maybe your area and demands are very different from what’s gone before.
Onboarding a new employee requires you to provide a great experience for your new starter. It’s not just about their day one induction. Some consider onboarding to go on for at least the contractual length of any probationary period, and that could be up to 3 months!
For many managers, you’ll also need to be thinking about onboarding in the context of hybrid working. Settling people down and making them feel involved and welcome is a whole lot tougher when you’re doing it remotely and over technology.
To carry out an effective onboarding process you need to balance thinking about practical needs, physical needs, and psychological needs. Think of it this way:
- Practically, a new employee might need log-in details for the intranet, access to customer management tools or a clear line of sight to important policies and procedures. You might have an onboarding portal you can point them toward for this.
- Physically, they might need a phone, a laptop, a desk if they are coming into the office. Perhaps a uniform or company vehicle.
- Psychologically, all newcomers benefit from getting a sense of the culture, values, and norms of the business. Are there any unspoken rules? What unwritten expectations are important for people to know? What values and beliefs make the organisation what it is and how do they support people doing well?
It’s perhaps less easy to onboard employees around these more nebulous ideals, however, informal conversation, storytelling and those ‘watercooler’ moments are generally good ways to make sure newbies tune into company traditions and ways of working.
This will help them find their feet and get a sense of how they feel about working in your business. For remote onboarding, sharing stories and getting to know people personally, are great ways to help with psychological needs.
Getting the basics right
Onboarding a new employee starts with everyone being clear about the job they are there to do. It’s about knowing what’s expected to be delivered and how that delivery connects with other people and their work. There are several starting points to ensure things go well:
- Help your new starter get it right. Let them know in advance what paperwork is required and when. Get all security and worker checks done in good time. These kinds of stressors are very distracting when you’re starting a new job.
- Direct your new employee to any relevant policies and procedures in the company handbook or direct them to the relevant sections on the intranet. Additional documents such as organisation charts also help orientation.
- Get ahead of technology. If possible, have new or re-allocated equipment ready to go on day one. Ensure logins, passwords and URLs are all shared in advance.
- If office-based, give details of fire evacuation procedures, equipment handling, desk ergonomics and first aiders. It’s important that ‘working from home’ or ‘hybrid’ working practices are also made clear (for example, if online meetings are vetoed from 1-2pm).
- Make sure everyone has a copy of the job description. This should have been provided as part of the recruitment process, but make sure it’s up to date.
- Take the time to discuss the job description with your new starter. Talk about the current challenges and therefore, the focus of delivery.
“67% of new hires want performance goals to be outlined during onboarding” (source LinkedIn)
- Make sure your new hire feels welcome – especially if they are starting their new role remotely. This might be as simple as inviting them onto a Zoom call to meet other members of the team over a cup of coffee.
- Make yourself available. Onboarding a new employee takes time. You can’t expect to do it in a week and then leave them to their own devices. Set up regular catch-ups or ‘touch-in’ meetings – even if just for 10 minutes.
- Share details of company events and holidays, the company mission statement, community projects, diversity and inclusion projects, green initiatives, and the dress code if there is one.
It’s easy to confuse first day at work orientation with employee onboarding. There’s a lot more involved to onboarding than organising work introductions, allocating equipment, and collecting outstanding paperwork. Onboarding a new employee is a complete process of bringing a new starter into the business, helping them to settle into their new role and supporting them to achieve their full potential.
If you’re new to managing and need help with the transition from managing yourself to managing others, try Notebook Mentor’s Becoming a 1st-time manager career journal.
Going beyond the basics
If you’re onboarding a new employee, start with the basics above and then go that little bit further. Everyone will thank you for it.
- Introduce your new starter more broadly. Help your new starter build solid internal networks. This means going beyond just introducing them to their immediate team. Think about who they might benefit from getting to know (customers, clients, functional team members, those with shared experience or interests)
- Talk about how performance is managed. Explain when their first review will be, and if you have a reviewing system let them have early sight of it.
- Training opportunities. Go over the company budget for job-specific training and professional development. Talk about new skills they may need training on. Explore and book relevant internal training, conferences and webinars.
- Probation periods. Allow time for you and the employee to assess whether the appointment is a good fit. The outcome of a probation should not be a surprise to either party so regular meetings should also be put in place to discuss feedback.
This might seem a lot of hard work (it is), but here’s why it’s worth your time and effort…
Top reasons to have an onboarding process in your business
Develops more productive employees
With successful onboarding, new starters feel integrated into the company from day one. An engaged new starter feels at home, part of the team and can understand their role in the company. They are prepared for their position and can start working towards full productivity straight away.
Helps retain talent
Onboarding is a key transition period for new employees, allowing them to integrate with the company culture and values. A well-planned onboarding process will make a great impression on new joiners and provide what’s needed for them to become a productive member of the team.
“Organisations with strong onboarding improve new hire retention by 82%” (Source – Glassdoor)
Builds employee trust and alignment with the company
Employees feel significantly more committed to an organization if they’ve received effective onboarding. Investing in the employee, their overall experience, and their success translates into a stronger bond between employer, team, and employee.
“Over 70% of employers believe employees’ departure from the organisation has a negative effect on business performance and team morale” (Source – CIPD)
Makes a positive impact on the company’s reputation
Negative word-of-mouth can impact your company’s ability to secure top talent in the future. A good onboarding experience helps to make sure employees’ early experiences of working with the business are positive.
“Less than six months into a new role, 31% of UK employees admit they are disappointed with their job” (Source – Glassdoor)
Even the most self-assured person will have some nervousness about joining a new company and meeting new people, so a friendly face and a warm welcome go a long way to making a new starter’s first step into a company a great experience.
By planning your onboarding process, you can give your new employees the information, relationships, and tools they need to be comfortable and confident to start productive work and have an onboarding process that leads to job satisfaction and long-term employee retention.