Improving Your Onboarding Process 5 Ways
In many ways, entering a new company is like being introduced into a different culture. The process of acculturation will take time and investment until the new employee learns the language, practices, and comes to feel and function like a full citizen. In 2005, under more severe employment circumstances than now, a study published by the MIT Sloan Management Review indicated that up to 25% of employees are engaged in some kind of acculturation process (Rollag K., Parise, S., & Cross, R., “Getting new hires up to speed quickly”).
“Onboarding” (also known as “organizational socialization”) refers to the mechanisms employed by a business through which new employees learn what they need, the knowledge, skills and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders (When the term was coined in the early 2000s, it referred to the introduction of new clients as well as new employees).
Almost all companies have some kind of formal or informal onboarding process. However, inadequate onboarding is one reason why many employees don’t last beyond the first months of employment.
Some of the attention should be in the first day a new employee enters the workplace. Many new employees are demoralized by the lack of preparation new employers show to introduce them to their workplace. The cultural shock of entering a new workplace should not be underestimated.
As one new employee described his situation on the first day:
They had three weeks to prepare for my arrival. Why no one took 30 minutes to assemble anything I will never understand…I walked in to a mess. My computer was not set up. I had no office supplies, and the employer wasn’t even sure where to put me.
The First Day:
1. Set up the employee’s workstation before their arrival on day one.
- On the employees desk should be any necessary paperwork. Make sure to tell the new employee to bring all the necessary identification information. Filling out paperwork during the first day makes a new employee feel less in the way.
- Employers should compile readable employee manuals that have the basic information needed. The manual should be made available immediately to a new hire.
2. Schedule a series of meetings on the first day.
- The meetings should introduce the employee to his or her immediate team and anyone he or she is expected to collaborate with on a regular basis outside of the team. This will assure the employee can feel comfortable reaching out to others and they can learn the appropriate channels of communication.
- Give the new employee a chance to meet with human resources to go over his or her employment contract, benefits and aspects of the employee culture.
- Make sure there is a chance for new employees to re-introduce themselves to the person who recruited them. This will reinforce the feeling of friendly engagement and provide a chance to learn more about the company.
3. Assemble a few “swag” items like t-shirts, mugs, and other company status symbols for the new employee to give him or her a sense of belonging, pride, and identification on the first day.
The First 90 Days:
Keep in mind that the first 90 days of employment (often called the “probationary period”) are pivotal to building rapport with the company, management, and co-workers. When new employees feel strong support during this period, they have more positive attitudes toward their jobs and work harder. Without a sense of support, they often feel abandoned and just the opposite occurs.
4. Develop a structured onboarding program, separate from training. Standardizing your onboarding program shows new employees how the company has invested in them and how happy the company is to have them. Gratitude, occasional “check ins” and letting people know that their contributions matter are great ways to ensure new hires feel seen, heard, and accountable.
5. Onboarding is not the same as training, although they are often confused. Onboarding has to do with what the new employee feels, sees, and hears during the early period after a hire. However, training is perceived by many new employees as an extra perk. It is a learning process that more fully engages them and increases their value in the company.
SurmountHRM has cloud based human resource solutions, single database solutions for payroll and human resource management. Please contact us to learn more.