Onboarding is key to retaining top talent. According to research conducted by Root, the Aberdeen Group found that 90% of people decide whether or not to stick with a company within their first six months there, so it’s definitely important to make sure each employee’s initial experience is a positive one.
Beyond that, a strong onboarding process helps team members become more effective more quickly. No one likes to feel unproductive, so it’s beneficial to set up new hires to start making contributions to your company ASAP. That's where a superb employee welcome package helps as well.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that onboarding helps cut business costs too. It takes plenty of time and money to hire new talent, so creating an environment where people underperform or leave quickly isn’t in an organization’s best interest.
Here are some onboarding best practices to keep in mind when you’re introducing new hires to your company.
Make a plan for your new employee's first day. It might seem obvious, but there are plenty of businesses that don’t put much emphasis on getting ready for the day when a new hire starts.
This plan should include logistical items such as setting up an employee’s workspace, setting up access to their company email account, and ensuring all of the required paperwork is completed. It’s also important to make a clear plan for the new hire's orientation and training activities. Providing new team members with a welcome package is a great way to communicate that plan and to welcome them into your company’s culture.
In the same vein, it isn’t fair to simply ask new hires to ‘do their best.’ Following onboarding best practices means outlining clear goals and expectations for what people should be able to accomplish at different points in the process.
This also includes being clear about company policy. New team members might be used to different norms when it comes to flexible employee work schedules, time off, and other workplace policies, so be sure to communicate how things are run at your organization.
For example, if you track time and attendance (a useful strategy for company growth), make sure new people are taught how the system works. Encourage new hires to ask questions if they have concerns or don’t understand what’s expected.
Double check the paperwork
One of the most crucial parts of following onboarding best practices is ensuring compliance with the relevant employment standards and labour laws. Despite your best intentions, things can slip through the cracks. It's important to have a system in place for making sure everything gets taken care of.
For example, make sure both you and the employee have signed an employment agreement outlining how the employee will be paid. A new hire checklist can help make sure you’ve completed all the necessary compliance details.
It’s a good idea to spread out the distribution of all of the employment agreements, tax forms, and other paperwork that needs to be completed so that new team members don’t get overwhelmed. Once that’s done, double check that the information is correct before filing it away.
Let your new hires shine
There’s a difference between telling and teaching, and the distinction is an important one to differentiate when it comes to onboarding. Rather than throwing a ton of information at your new hires and hoping some of it sticks with them, create an engaging program that helps new team members begin their contributions right away. For example, job shadowing allows new employees to see their coworkers in action rather than simply being told how things in each department work.
That said, as important as it is to have a clear program, don’t be afraid to give team members a little freedom and to be open to change. You hired that person because you were impressed with their unique set of skills, so it makes sense to encourage them to use their specific talents to add value to your business. This allows new team members to get going more quickly, helping them to feel like a valuable part of the team.
Get the whole company involved
Most onboarding best practices also point out that connecting with the big picture is important for company culture, sharing core values, and empowering your team.
Go beyond each new team member’s department to help them understand how each aspect of the business works, as this will help people connect with your company mission and goals. For example, have new hires spend some one-on-one time with people in each department so that they can observe their duties and ask questions about their role.
In addition, you might want to provide your new hires with neighbourhood guides or encourage team members to have lunch with different people within the company. Team building activities are a good idea as well to help new people get acquainted and feel comfortable with the team more quickly.
Go beyond the first week
Onboarding isn’t just a one-day event. Rather, it’s a process that can last weeks, months, and up to a year.
In an effort to evaluate progress, schedule reviews with your new team members at certain points to solicit intel on how things are going and to exchange feedback and advice with team members. After all, onboarding processes can and should always be in a state of improvement, especially if your business is constantly growing and changing.
Investing in onboarding is an important part of any HR strategy. Getting and maintaining successful new hires started isn’t something that just happens. It takes a lot of work and careful planning to ensure new team members can truly hit the ground running.
No one wants to be stuck twiddling their thumbs at their first day on the job, and no company wants to hire team members who will leave six months later or who aren’t as engaged as they could be. Strong onboarding guards against those issues, and following these onboarding best practices is a great way to get your company on the right track to creating a solid program.