First impressions count a lot.We all know it. The employer knows it and the new hire, especially, knows it.
Everyone wants to start off on the right foot and make a great impression from day one. It’s usually up to human resources or a supervisor to conduct the onboarding plan and to ensure they feel welcomed.
With no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s challenging to create an effective onboarding process. Luckily, the employee onboarding tips in this guide will help you do just that. Use the following actionable tips to develop a comprehensive onboarding strategy fit for your organization.
Why is it so important to onboard new hires properly?
The employee onboarding process, also known as organizational socialization, sets the foundation and tone for the entire employer-employee relationship.
More specifically, a successful onboarding program should:
- Introduce the new hire to their teammates and company culture
- Ease them into their job duties and responsibilities
- Help them settle into their new work environment
- Teach the company’s policies and procedures
The goal is to commit new employees to the organization by making them feel welcome, accepted, and cared for. When implemented correctly, an employee onboarding process will:
- Boost employee engagement
- Reduce turnover rates
- Improve talent acquisition and retention
- Enhance employee productivity without sacrificing quality
- Result in more satisfied customers
- Promote better employee alignment with the company culture
- Increase profits
However, for you to get these onboarding benefits and more, you need the human resources department, hiring managers, and all other stakeholders to understand the process’s importance.
Here are 10 actionable tips to help you set up an effective new employee onboarding process.
10 actionable tips for new employee onboarding
Talking or reading about great onboarding in general terms is one thing but going through a step-by-step implementation is quite another.
This onboarding guide will help you get the most benefit every time a new employee starts working at your organization.
#1: Consider doing pre-boarding
While nobody’s under any obligation to do anything before the agreed-upon start date, it’s still a good idea for you to do a bit of pre-boarding. This is the period between someone signing a new job offer and actually starting the job.
Studies show that a whopping 87% of new hires feel nervous going into a new job. These feelings can linger well after the start date, denting their enthusiasm and productivity in the long run. If left unchecked, it can lead to burnout down the road.
There’s also the chance that the new hire might ghost you. An Indeed.com poll has shown that 18% of would-be employees stopped engaging with the company at some point during the hiring process and 22% didn’t show up for their first day of work.
Pre-boarding keeps these numbers at a minimum by taking a proactive approach. Some companies send out “care packages” filled with various company merch, handwritten notes, and other tokens of appreciation. You can also build rapport with the new colleague by organizing an informal Zoom meeting before the start date. This also validates their decision to accept your job offer, putting their mind at ease. This is especially useful if you’re dealing with a remote-work hire and in-person meetings aren’t possible.
#2: Ensure the new hire’s first day is hassle-free
The first week, especially the first day, of work can be quite nerve-racking for new hires. An effective employee onboarding strategy turns this sense of anxiety into excitement.
Instead of feeling daunted by their new work environment, new colleagues, and new responsibilities, first-day employees should be comfortable and at ease. This time is the perfect opportunity to plan out their orientation, set up email addresses and other logins, have them update their LinkedIn profile, and give them their employee handbook. You can also introduce them to their mentor or buddy, present their corporate training program, and sign any outstanding paperwork or non-disclosure agreements.
The point is to make their first day as carefree as possible while easing them into their new work environment. Don’t bombard them with too much information too soon.
#3: Introduce recruits to their colleagues as soon as possible
Another potential stress factor for recruits is meeting their new colleagues. Many are eager to do so as soon as possible. Around 83% of new hires expect to meet their workmates on the first day to start on a positive note. Nobody can feel part of the team if they don’t know who the team is, right?
Prepare all employees to meet new recruits and encourage conversations between them. This increases their sense of belonging, strengthens future collaboration, and creates excitement around the new hire. Be sure to also connect them to whomever they report to and various other contacts that can help them in their new role.
In the case of remote employees, virtual meetings via Skype, Google Meet, or Zoom will do the job. Although probably not as effective as in-person talks, they still bring most of the benefits to the table. You can let these meetups flow naturally or set an agenda. Ask team members to create an introductory sound bite, fun facts, or icebreaker questions for the new hire.
The point is to make the new employee feel comfortable right away by starting their first day on a positive, supported note.
#4: Give the new hires an office tour
As your recruits settle in and start meeting new colleagues, it’s also a good idea to show them around the office a bit. They should be confident in knowing where things are so they don’t constantly have to ask others. The more unknowns you remove from the workplace, the more at home they’ll feel.
You can start the office tour by showing them:
- Their designated workspace
- Manager and supervisor offices (especially those they’ll report to)
- Supply rooms
- Conference rooms
- Recreational areas
You don’t need to go into the bowels of the office building, showing them every nook and cranny. Instead, focus on the areas that they’ll use regularly, especially during their first month. You can take this a step further by handing them a digital map of the office, which they can save on their computers for easy reference. For remote employees, in lieu of an office tour, you can show them how to properly use your project management software. Introduce them to the features they’ll use initially. Avoid overwhelming them with everything the tool can do in a single sitting.
#5: Set clear expectations
If you want to keep your new hires long-term and prime them for success, you need to establish clear goals, objectives, and expectations. It’s not uncommon for employees to leave a company after only six months simply because these weren’t clearly expressed from the get-go. The entire onboarding process can last up to a year and you should have these goals and workflows spelled out within the first three months.
It’s generally better for the manager to present these goals in the form of a conversation and not like a mandatory to-do list. When creating these goals and objectives, it’s a good idea to follow the SMART framework. This stands for:
Very few things are more draining for new hires than constantly thinking about what they need to achieve or how far along they are in doing so. Managers should conduct regular check-ins and follow-ups to establish whether employees are on the right track or need further assistance.
#6: Find opportunities for mentorship
A mentorship program is a great onboarding tool for getting recruits to peak efficiency as fast as possible. It’s not only effective for new-employee training but also in terms of talent acquisition and retention.
Over 79% of Millennials see mentoring as critical to their professional success. Likewise, those intending to remain with the same organization for over five years are twice as likely to do so (68% vs. 32%) if they have a mentor.
Mentorship builds meaningful connections with co-workers, fosters a learning culture, and builds engagement among both parties. In terms of onboarding, a mentor can answer questions, help new employees learn and grow, and build trust between team members.
An alternative to mentorship is an onboarding buddy. Unlike mentors, who are typically experienced employees and focus on mid- to long-term goals, a buddy is usually a teammate who helps the new hire settle in. They can point them to the right resources, answer simple questions, and generally focus on the cultural aspects of the organization. An onboarding buddy is also great for enhancing team cohesion.
If possible, you should use both a mentor and buddy system in your onboarding program.
#7: Have your managers play an active role in the onboarding
Your managers should also be an active part of the onboarding process. They are perfectly placed within the organization’s structure to provide guidance, bring the company culture to life, and lead by example.
While it’s usually the human resources department that’s in charge of onboarding new team members, other department heads can pitch in. With a bit of soft skill training and development, these managers can even become mentors helping new hires connect with the right people and providing in-depth support wherever needed.
#8: Help new recruits understand and accept your company culture
Research shows that companies with a strong mission see, on average, 40% higher levels of employee retention. They also experience 30% higher innovation levels and tend to be at the top of their market segment. Companies with a learning culture experience 30-50% employee engagement and retention.
What this shows is that employee happiness is strongly linked to how much a company is invested in its own mission and team development. Immersing new recruits into a positive company culture as soon as possible will help them fit in easier, become more invested, and be far less likely to experience burnout. To get a new employee to feel the culture, you need to:
- Lead by example: Nothing shows the value of a company’s culture more than its team embodying it. This is especially true for those in leadership and management positions. You need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
- Infuse the culture into everything: Both your welcoming and training processes should highlight aspects of your company culture. The training material you use should have a strong tone that immediately communicates the mission and culture.
- Introduce them to the company’s rituals: Silly company games and traditions, team rituals, and inside jokes are what get us through a stressful day. New hires need to feel a part of such cultural elements so that they don’t feel left out.
- Check-in on their progress: To make sure that they’ve got it, have new hires give a quick presentation at the end of the first week or so. Nothing too demanding, of course, but something that shows they get the culture.
#9: Personalize the onboarding process
As mentioned in the introduction, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to an effective employee onboarding program. Each new hire fits a different post and handles separate responsibilities. For the onboarding experience to be pleasant and efficient, tailor it to fit that specific job role.
Hiring a sales rep, for example, requires more focus on people skills. A product developer, on the other hand, needs more emphasis on innovation. The worst thing you could do is have an onboarding process that simply involves new hires signing papers and collecting their employee handbooks and login details. This is a missed opportunity that often leaves newcomers feeling isolated. It’s better to personalize each onboarding plan based on every individual hire.
#10: Invest in an LMS for onboarding
A learning management system (LMS) is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that allows you to create and manage your onboarding strategy. It’s an effective digital tool used for employee training and initiation.
An LMS also has other use cases such as customer, partner, and member training, sales enablement, employee development and retention, and compliance training. Your L&D department can create training courses, upload onboarding materials in various formats, and administer performance evaluations.
An LMS improves the speed, effectiveness, manageability, and cost-effectiveness of onboarding, especially for remote-work hires. You can also use an LMS to track and assess a new hire’s progress, determine areas that need improvement, and generate detailed reports based on employee onboarding KPIs.
- Branding and white-labeling: These allow you to brand your LMS platform with your logo, colors, banners, etc. Doing so will immerse the new hire in the company culture even more.
- Gamification: Adopting simple game mechanics like scoring points, leaderboards, and other small rewards that highlight a learner’s progress with the course content helps drive engagement.
- Social learning: Be it in the form of web chat or discussion forums, this feature allows for knowledge sharing and collaborative learning between peers and managers.
Although not exhaustive, this list of actionable onboarding tips will help you during the hiring process. It will provide some of the best benefits for both your company and new team members, for better overall cooperation.
Level up your onboarding experience with a robust LMS
An effective onboarding plan needs to take advantage of all the tools and best practices. A robust LMS solution helps you guide your new hires throughout their onboarding journey and beyond.
Employee training is an ongoing process that learning management systems can support and facilitate. Schedule a demo with Docebo today and see exactly what a professional LMS can do for you.