How to onboard better: it’s all in the planning

Veterans of onboarding share their secrets for smooth integration of new employees

How to onboard better: it’s all in the planning

Onboarding a new employee is one of the most important aspects of recruiting and retaining talent.

Yet many companies get it wrong: poor introductions, no computer available, no email set-up and even no desk.

According to a survey conducted by Careerbuilder and Silkroad Technology, nearly one in 10 people have left a company because of a poor onboarding experience. And 37% said their manager did not play a critical role in their onboarding experience support.

It should be a simple process that goes a long way to making an employee feel welcome and wanting to contribute. But it requires a detailed plan and considerable commitment from both HR function and the new hire’s direct manager.

The manager’s commitment

“An effective onboarding process should take a total of 15 hours across 90 days for a new hire’s manager,” says Brad Giles, founder and managing director of executive coaching firm Evolution Partners and author of Onboarded: How to bring new hires to the point where they are effective, faster.

“This takes around two hours to build a role scorecard explaining what success looks like in the role, and then a one hour meeting each week across 13 weeks. Over the 13 weekly meetings new hires progress through the onboarding sprint plan, which details how to succeed in the new role.

“As the manager and new hire discuss the progress through the plan each week, the new hire traverses three stages of understanding, learning and applying, which should be embedded, whereby at the end they are a successful fit into the role.”

The right process

“At TechRT, we believe that investing in our employees is one of the best ways to improve productivity and morale,” says Rajesh Namase, co-founder of scinence and technology publisher TechRT.

TechRT’s approach to onboarding rests on a process of mentoring and careful integration.

“We want every new employee to feel like they are part of the team from day one, so we have created a thorough onboarding process to help with this transition,” says Namase. “First, every new employee is paired with a mentor who will help them acclimate to their new role. The mentor will go over expectations, and company policies, and answer any questions the new employee has.

“Next, the new employee will shadow another team member for a day so they can see what their daily tasks will be. This will give them a better understanding of their responsibilities and how they fit in to the overall company structure.

“Finally, the new employee will sit down with their supervisor to review their job description and set some goals for their first 90 days.”

A consistent approach

At marketing and communications firm The Creative Collective, the onboarding process is built to function equally for both in-office and remote experiences.

“We aim to have a desk and email allocated for the arrival of our new staff member to make them feel welcome,” Emma Cruz, operations manager. “We can also onboard them virtually where needed. Early on we introduce them to our intranet and direct them to our ‘new staff’ page which contains key details they will require in their early days with us such as an organisational chart, welcome videos, and our onboarding booklet which outlines a lot about the company.

“On Mondays we have an all in meeting online and generally welcome new team members formally at this. We will also invite them to any relevant meetings that week where they can play a shadow role and get to know their colleagues and our style. We have an on boarding checklist we go through to ensure they have received all relevant onboarding and allocate time with a variety of team members to make sure they gain different perspectives.”

Make sure your plan is up to date

It is important to review your onboarding process because job roles, company structures and potentially the array of services and/or products that your company offers may change.

Cruz says plans at The Cresative Collective are updated “constantly.”

“It is up to each pod leader or team leader to review the intranet and the resources contained on it for their area. The human resources manager is responsible for maintaining the general onboarding and human resource sections. We review when we know new legislation is coming up, there has been an issue or when we know we need to add something. The human resources manager also meets one of the directors every 2-4 weeks to review and update what is needed.”

Welcoming a new starter with a purposeful plan, from the minute they arrive, will go a long way to putting a new employee’s mind at ease and help them feel confident about the pathway ahead.

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