How well do you onboard new employees?

Finally, after weeks or sometimes months of searching, you found the perfect candidate to fill an open position on your team. Now the real work begins—how do you bring this individual into your organization in a way that makes them feel welcome, exposes them to your culture and work environment, and sets them up for a long and successful career in your organization? Consider these five strategies for making onboarding successful for your new employees:

  1. Have a clear roadmap in place: Nothing makes a new employee feel more confident in their decision to join your organization than coming in and feeling like they are a valued part of the team. A clearly defined roadmap of day 1, week 1, month 1, quarter 1 activities laid out with evident expectations and outcomes will make the associate feel like they are being set up for success. While you are at it, make sure that their workstation, equipment, and any security or network access is set up and ready to go. Provide a list of internal technology resources like bookmarks to important content on your intranet site or key contacts in other departments so they know who to contact when needed.
    Roadmap activities can be standard across all roles in your organization (example: Day 1 tour of the building, benefit enrollment activities) or can be job-specific (example: specific functional or technical training activities, attendance of specific meetings). Ultimately this roadmap communicates a clear path by which the associate will learn their new role. 
  2. Slow and steady wins the race: The opening you have filled may have been open for quite a while, and the team may be desperate to have the new associate working to full capacity as quickly as possible, but your new associate needs time to acclimate to their new job. Setting expectations for performance too high can cause the new associate to do things outside of your preferred process. Unlearning bad behaviors is harder than learning things the right way first. Make sure the associate is capable of taking on tasks before the demand is too high.
  3. Build a team of advisors: As the saying goes, “it takes a village…” make sure that onboarding is a shared responsibility across your organization. Each member of your team will bring a new perspective that will prove meaningful to the new associate, and it will help them to navigate through your organization by knowing who to turn to when questions or challenges arise. It is unlikely that there is one expert on your team that knows everything. This approach does a couple of things. First, it exposes your new team member to their peers and your team to their new team members. It can also help individuals to start to build new personal relationships within the team. The existing team members will also have a chance to be seen as an “expert” in an area and will likely take pride in owning that responsibility.
  4. Personalize the experience: Surely there are things that every new associate needs to do or know in their first few days or weeks, and having these documented ensures that they are completed. But once these housekeeping items are done, the individual plan needs to go into effect. These plans may start out with a framework based on the associate’s role or job description but should be tailored to take into account the skills and knowledge they bring in the door. Find ways to have the individual share these skills back to your team, you may find that the fresh perspective might spark ideas around changes you can all make in your business.
  5. Include self-reflection: Let’s face it, starting at a new company and learning the ins and outs can feel like drinking from a fire hose. Provide your new associate a journal they can use to capture thoughts, ideas, important facts, or follow up questions as they progress through their onboarding period. Build time into their day each week to reflect upon their experiences and write down their thoughts, as well as time to go back to previous entries. In doing so they can digest the information when they have time and may go back to something they heard weeks ago that finally makes sense.

Ultimately, you should think about on-boarding as a two-way street, an exchange of information between you and your new associate, and your entire team.

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