Onboarding: end-to-end guide to introducing new staff to your business ASAP!

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

Have you ever turned up to a new job, all excited for your first day, only to find yourself feeling more than a little lost by the end of the day?

Unfortunately, many companies really let themselves (and their employees) down when it comes to onboarding, believing in more of a ‘sink or swim’ approach for new hires.

Onboarding is a really important part of your business operations, helping new team members to become acclimatised to their working environment and to welcome them into the fold—all while providing them with the information and resources they’ll need to do their job and do it well.

After investing so much time, money and energy into the recruitment process, it seems odd that so many employers seem to drop the ball by failing to establish a proper onboarding process. But it happens more often than you might think.

With initial impressions of a company being formulated during those all-important first few days on the job, these early days are a critical time for both employer and employee as it allows each party to consider whether the partnership is an ideal fit. After all, new employees want to be sure that a company is a good fit for them, as much as they need to be a good fit for the company.

A good onboarding program should provide a new staff member with practical, easy-to-use tools and training to transition smoothly into their new job. But there’s so much more you can do to help new employees learn about their position and the organisation than just sending them to a one-day orientation course to read over corporate documents.

Here, we look at some important factors for employers to consider when developing their onboarding program, so you can welcome new employees to your company in the best way possible.

Start the onboarding process ASAP

According to Aberdeen Group, 69% of best-in-class organizations begin the onboarding process before day one.

Onboarding should start as soon as your new hire receives their official offer of employment. Have your HR and payroll teams communicate with new hires to welcome them on board. This way, new employees are able to better focus on the job at hand, rather than wonder about how and when they’ll be getting paid.

Make sure you have a clear workspace set up for your new team member before they arrive, with basic stationery items and any other tools that could help them in their role, such as copies of organisational charts, relevant contact details, corporate style guides and so on.

Your organisation no doubt also has an internal messaging system, social networks, wiki pages and video-conferencing systems, to help team members connect and collaborate. Ensure each new hire can access these and becomes familiar with them.

Customise the onboarding experience

You can also make onboarding more engaging for individuals by making sure you tailor the process to each new staff member.

Personalise and customise the onboarding process by including details that are specific to each person’s job description and team. For example, not all staff need to know the same skills or the same selection of company policies. There’s nothing worse than starting in a new role and being forced to scroll through endless screens of HR policies when they don’t even apply to your job.

With this in mind, make sure you’re only giving new hires training in the policies and procedures that are relevant to their position description. Otherwise, they’ll very quickly become disengaged from the training materials.

If you’re a manager or supervisor, always take the time to greet new employees in person and introduce them to the entire team—whether or not they’ll be working with each directly—so they can feel part of the group and more at ease in their work environment.

And while it may sound less important, small thoughtful gestures such as providing new hires with their own company coffee cup, branded water bottle or T-shirt show that you’ve taken the time to warmly welcome them into your team. People notice and appreciate these kind actions and attention to detail.

Professional development and training

One of the things employees value most is the opportunity to enhance their careers. People need to know that the company they’re working for is committed to their professional development, as much as they’re committed to the job.

It’s important to recognise that your company’s onboarding process will be the first taste of training new hires will get from your organisation. The amount of effort put into onboarding speaks volumes about the amount of effort your company will put into its staff in general.

Within your onboarding program, provide information on how you plan to train and develop staff throughout their employment with your company, so new team members know the importance you place on their professional development.

Think of onboarding not only as an overall training system, but also as a chance for you to show how well you engage with your staff and how much energy you’re willing to invest in them.

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