What is an Effective Onboarding Process?

hiring Most people can unfortunately recall a situation where they started a new job, excited about the role and company, only to find their first day to be less than exciting. Their assigned computer was not set up in advance; they have to spend hours in a room by themselves to read and complete the requisite HR paperwork; they are only introduced to whomever's around; they are given a cursory overview of what's expected of them and then they are left to sink or swim.  Employees who experience such an unwelcoming onboarding process have a greatly diminished likelihood of being successful, while also increasing the probability they will leave within the first few months. Revisit our previous blog, What Does Employee Turnover Cost? to see what risks you're taking with a poor onboarding process.

Effectively onboarding a new team member is a critical process that will accelerate their ability to become a productive employee, while also increasing the likelihood that they stay with your company for the long-run.

A new hire checklist will help ensure all of the essential forms are completed and that basic information about the company is shared, but an effective onboarding process will occur over an extended period of time, typically between 90 days to a year.

The onboarding process should be a well-thought-out and intentional plan that will help ensure the success of your new team member.  An effective onboarding process should include a number of the following best practices:

1.) Checklists are still important.

You should still have a new hire checklist to make sure all of the requisite items (HR Forms, IT setup, introductions, etc.) are in place.

2.) Get to know the new employee before they start.

Notify your existing team, in advance, of a new employee, their start date and role on the team and a brief bio of their background. In addition, providing your new team member with bios of the other employees they will be working with will add a level of familiarity for the new hire. (Hint: include pictures so they can be sure to pick up everyone’s name quickly.)

3.) There's no substitute for personal communication.

Schedule one-on-one introductory discussions during a new team member's first day/week. In smaller companies, a president or CEO may meet with the employee to review the company's mission and vision. In larger companies, their direct manager can do this. In all sizes, one-on-ones should be scheduled with any colleagues that will work closely with the new hire so they can get to know each other and see how their positions will work together.

4.) Manage the knowledge.

Establish a specific overview of the new content and knowledge they will need to learn in their new role, along with how and from whom they will be gaining that knowledge and within what expected time frame.

5.) Set clear and achievable goals.

Between the new team members 3rd and 5th week, their manager should begin a goal setting dialogue to review what the team member goals and objectives will be over the next 3, 6 and 9 months. Regularly scheduled “check-in” discussions should take place monthly within the first 3 months and at least every 3 months thereafter. Our blog on conducting an effective performance review will provide you some pointers on how these conversations should go.

Mapping out an established plan for an effective onboarding process will benefit not only the new employee, but the company as well.

A new team member should feel they are a valued member of the team and are being provided the necessary information, tools and support that will set them up for success.

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