How to improve your employee onboarding process

Jul 24, 2023

Remember that first day of elementary school? Each year, heading into school with a tinge of sadness at summer’s end, but the excitement of seeing your friends, finding your classroom, and cracking open that box of new crayons.

The first days were fun for the teachers, too (or so they made it seem). Welcome signs and name tags on desks, colorfully adorned doors, and uplifting messages about learning together. As kids, we likely overlooked the effort it took to create a welcoming environment and the attention required to set the stage for a successful school year. As adults, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of creating the stage for our new hires.

Whether it is an employee’s first day at the company, or a current employee joining a new team, onboarding matters. Lots of time and attention is placed on recruiting and hiring the right talent, and we often overlook the importance of preparing a thoughtful onboarding plan beyond day one. The first few weeks on a new job are hectic for the new hire (and hectic for you, as you’ve been doing double work waiting for the new person to get there and take on the assignments).

Great onboarding should include a focus on helping the new hire:

  1. Gain knowledge of the new company
  2. Reinforce s/he made a good decision to join this team
  3. Get the information required to get up to speed quickly

Invest in setting the stage for your new hire and you won’t be disappointed with their integration. Often, companies provide the minimum necessary to the new hire, then find themselves frustrated in a few months when the new hire isn’t performing as well as expected.

Here are the elements of a great onboarding experience:

  • Let the new hire know you are ready for them. Reach out in advance of the first day. Communicate the hours the new hire needs to work, what they can expect, and most importantly, your confidence they will be a great asset to the team. Answer questions.
  • Communicate to the team that the new hire is starting and how this will impact them.
  • Prepare training for the new hire. Consider what the new employee will need to be successful, then supply that. This can include setting up email, providing access to shared drives, data and systems training (even if the new employee has experience in your system, it pays to train to your unique processes), preparing the workspace — everything from a laptop to office supplies — and policies and procedures for how the work of your company happens.
  • Don’t forget the basics! Provide a facility tour and other steps to acclimate the new hire to the space.
  • Spend time with the new hire. Schedule regular check-ins with the new hire throughout the first week or two. Some great questions to ask:
  • How is your integration going so far?
  • What’s been eye-opening as you are starting here?
  • What can I do to support you as you learn this new role?
  • How can I be helpful to you?
  • Set the new hire up to learn from coworkers and key stakeholders. Provide them time to see how others work and learn the interconnections between their coworkers’ contributions and the new role they are in. Assigning a peer mentor is a great way to help them get connected.
  • Provide support over the first several weeks and months. Schedule check-ins at 30/60/90 days to hear what is and is not working for the new hire. This is a great time to provide feedback and offer additional training if needed.

By providing a great onboarding experience, your new hire will feel supported and well-prepared to fully assume the responsibilities of the role. And, the organization will benefit from the new hire’s quick assimilation into the organization.

Danialle Lynce is the HR  director consultant for Cleveland-headquartered ConnectedHR, which also has an office in Austin, Texas.

This article appeared in Crain’s Cleveland Business 

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