‘Onboarding is a term used to describe the process of handling new employees to obtain the best results from them.’ Whilst this might be a slightly crude definition (thanks Wikipedia..) it is helpful in highlighting how important it is to successfully initiate new employees into your business.
Integrating new employees to any company is a crucial process: not only does it ensure your new hires are fully equipped to do their jobs, it also instills them with confidence about their job, thus limiting the possibility of an HR disaster when your new starter hot foots it out of the office three hours into their new role. Equally, a successful graduate scheme should be able to attract and retain the best recruits, to the overall benefit of the business.
In January 2003 a survey of 5643 workers conducted in the U.K. found that 4% of new hires had such a disastrous first day that they never went back!
So, what are the key elements to an effective onboarding programme, I hear you cry?
Here are my top 10 tips to keep new employees happy.
Take advantage of a new employee’s enthusiasm. They are never going to be any more excited about their new job than they are on the first day or so. Use this enthusiasm to your advantage-participate in conversations with them to ensure they feel comfortable and happy in their new place of work.
Do not cram too much information into the first day. The amount of retention that actually happens within the first day is limited to begin with because of the excitement involved in a new environment, so be sure that you spread that kind of information out over the course of a week or two.
Outline day-to-day responsibilities clearly. Sounds obvious, but everybody likes to know that they have a good idea of what their day-to-day responsibilities are - this helps to minimize confusion. If, for example, a new hire assumes someone else is responsible for something within their own remit, this can lead to uncertainty.
Discuss how your company approaches the markets that you serve, why you serve the markets and why the messaging is the way it is. It’s very important for people to understand the overall culture and the vision of the company to be able to fit in properly.
Discuss the company’s approach to training and development. Whether or not it is an internal process, an external process, or a combination or blending approach to learning and training and development, it is important for people to understand.
Communicating the culture. By the time you offer a candidate the role, you should have a good idea of whether they are the right personality fit for the company. However, it is important to reiterate to the candidate the culture and the way things operate at the company now that they are actually on board.
Work with new hires to establish clear expectations and goals and help them achieve these. Communicating what you want new hires to achieve and monitoring their progress enables them to perform to the highest level.
Ensure graduates are bought in to your brand. Many companies’ graduate schemes involve a training course overseas: Accenture, for example, offer their graduate recruits an intensive two week program at their Chicago training centre. This is effective on two levels: it provides a cohesive approach to orientation and further development, and it also establishes a strong relationship and sense of loyalty between the graduate and their employer.
Assign new employees a mentor or ‘buddy’. This helps new hires to fit in on a social level and fosters a relationship with an individual who is already established within the company. At FreshMinds everyone has a ‘buddy’ within their business division but also within another business division to facilitate a broader social network around the company.
Ask for feedback. The first few weeks in a new job can feel somewhat overwhelming for a fresh or recent graduate. You want to give them enough space to settle in and find their own way but arrange a few informal catch-up sessions where you can ask for their thoughts on how they are doing. This also gives you a forum to give them feedback on how they are doing.
Remember – once you’ve invested the time in the recruitment process, it’s worth making the effort to make your new employee’s first weeks a positive, enjoyable experience. This will reap dividends in the months – even years – to come.