I recently had a conversation about onboarding new employees with an executive who had just started her dream job with a Fortune 100 company and was asking for advice.
Her new organization had done a great job during the recruitment process of selling her on the opportunity, educating her on the challenges of the role, and illuminating why the position would be a great career opportunity.
Before she started, her excitement about the career transition was palpable. Yet four months later, because her employer’s plan for onboarding new employees was non-existent, she was feeling ineffective and questioning whether she had made the right professional move.
What went wrong? The initial momentum dissipated when her boss was absent on her first day and when no clear performance expectations were set for her role. The executive was also hampered by a disjointed onboarding process that included not getting a computer for the first two months and having to use her personal laptop.
Unfortunately, her experience wasn’t an anomaly and we find that many organizations fail to have a strategic process in place for onboarding team members. On average, companies lose 17% of their new hires during the first three months according to the Society of Human Resources. After investing significant time and resources in the recruitment process, it is critical that organizations capitalize on the momentum and excitement of new hires, and effectively onboard team members.
Onboarding doesn’t start on day one or end once the pre-employment screening and required forms have been completed. Effective onboarding is a process that starts at offer acceptance and continues on through year one; it reduces the time it takes for a new hire to be effective and integrated into their new organization.
By focusing on five key areas, organizations can capitalize on their recruitment investment, set new employees up to succeed, and have higher retention rates.
Five Tactics for Onboarding New Employees
1. Set the stage for successful onboarding before the employee starts
A smooth employee transition can be achieved when these prior steps are taken:
- Ensure Human Resources has provided information about company policies, organizational structure, benefits information, and required forms
- Establish communication with the new hire during the transition by providing an onboarding plan and encouraging an open dialogue
- Send the employee their first week’s schedule ahead of time so they know what to expect
- Provide logistics information including where to park, where to get their company ID, and where they need to go on their first day
- Send out an email to everyone in the department or organization with the new hire’s name and a brief bio so they are prepared to welcome the new employee
- Show that you are ready for the new hire to hit the ground running by setting up their workspace, phone system, cell phone, a provisioned computer before their first day
2. Make the employee’s first day special
The new hire should leave work on the first day convinced they made a great decision. Make sure they have something better to report than “I sat through an orientation video and completed 23 forms today.”
- Make sure their workspace is fully stocked with supplies and feels welcoming (some organizations put up decorations and welcome signs)
- Carve out as much time as your schedule allows to spend time with your new employee on the day they start
- Spend time with your new employee talking about their new role, introducing them to the team, and helping them get acclimated
- Take them out to lunch
- Consider leaving a welcome basket with snacks or items with your organization’s brand
3. Clearly communicate performance expectations starting in week one
A common complaint from new hires is that they don’t have clearly defined expectations and success metrics. During the first week:
- Provide a copy of your company’s performance review template and communicate which elements are most important for their role
- Set aside time to discuss strategy, organizational structure, formal and informal policies
- Clearly communicate the expected contributions and KPIs
- Explain short-term and long-term goals
- Establish when you’ll be having check-in meetings with the employee
4. Help the new hire build a social network and establish relationships critical to success
Three ways to help connect a new hire are:
- Schedule a social event to allow colleagues to meet the new hire
- Designate a mentor for the new hire (ideally, someone that you’d like the new employee to emulate)
- Set-up meet and greets with peers and key team members
5. Facilitate cultural and political awareness
Here are five ways to successfully integrate the new hire:
- Communicate the values, norms, and guiding assumptions that define acceptable behavior in the your organization
- Share communication protocols (both for communication with you and other senior leaders
- Organize meetings with relevant peers and leaders to accelerate a transfer of deeper knowledge about the business, the team, the culture, and strategic priorities
- Help the employee understand who the key stakeholders and decision makers are for their projects
- Provide a list and definitions of commonly encountered buzzwords and acronyms
Note: This article originally appeared on healthsystem.com
By Bryan Kirby, Vice President and Executive Recruiter with Kirby Partners, a leading executive search firm specializing in cyber security and healthcare leadership recruiting.