First impressions count. Now, while new hires will inevitably be trying to make the best impression when joining a company, it’s even more important for the company to make a good impression on their new team member. After all, this is the person who is going to help your company achieve its long-term vision. Their first week at the company will set the tone for the future and can determine whether or not they’ll stick around when headhunters come calling with a tempting offer. If they walk in on the first day and think, “I’ve made a huge mistake,” you’re the one who will literally be paying for it in the long run. Alternatively, if they walk in and think, “This is the place for me,” you’ll reap the rewards for years to come together. Onboarding has an impact on the long-term growth of both the organization and the employee.
The early days at a new job are always nerve-wracking which is why a smart onboarding process is necessary. Smart onboarding ensures that your fresh-faced recruit becomes acclimatized to their new environment swiftly and integrates into the team seamlessly. It’s not only important to find the right person for the job but to make them feel at home as soon as possible. This can lead to the longer retention of employees which, in turn, negates the costs associated with new hires and prevents a negative company culture from developing due to a constantly revolving door.
You’re never too small (or too big) to pay attention to onboarding.
Some smaller companies might think they’re too busy getting the “important” work done to spend time onboarding and that new hires will figure it out themselves. After all, what did you hire them for? Well, to do their job. Not wondering who they need to ask for their login details. It’s a mistake and a waste of time and money to leave an employee in the deep end to see if they can swim for themselves. The sooner you can get them comfortable with their new role and environment, the sooner they can do what you’re actually paying them for. By neglecting the onboarding process, you’re telling a new employee that your company doesn’t care about the finer details, that you’re unapproachable when they have problems, and that they’re just another cog in the wheel.
On the hand, some organisations pay incredible attention to the onboarding process when they’re starting to scale up but let things slip once they’ve grown into the juggernaut they dreamt of. Once again, this can lead to a new employee feeling insignificant and that they’re just there to clock in and out. Make sure you constantly update and refine your onboarding process and that it grows with the company.
Learning from previous onboarding experiences.
In the James Bond movie ‘From Russia with Love’, the character Rosa Klebb says the now-infamous, “Training is useful, but there is no substitute for experience”. Learn from previous onboarding experiences and constantly improve the process by making note of what worked and what didn’t. You can do this by utilising a scorecard or rating system and by surveying employees once they’ve had a few weeks to settle into their new position. Use this to find out how they found the process and if they have any tips or ideas on how it could have been better. Even if it wasn’t necessarily the smoothest process for them, they’ll appreciate the follow-up as it shows a will to improve the company and that their opinion is valued.
Make a list, check it twice.
Having an easily accessible and constantly updated checklist is your secret weapon in the onboarding process. You can utilize what you’ve learned from each new hire to constantly refine the process and update the list. With a well-considered checklist, you won’t ever have to worry whether or not your latest hire has their key card to access the building because you already ticked that off the list. This checklist will be unique to each company and potentially each role in the company, but it should cover the entire process from before a new hire arrives up until evaluation at the end of the first month.
Onboarding from a distance
Due to the challenges brought on by COVID-19, 2020 has seen a massive uptick in remote work for companies of all sizes. While many companies were already heading in that direction, some have had to adjust quickly to the world around them and might not be as used to taking on new hires through Zoom meetings. It used to be that you had to ensure a new staff member had a desk, a computer, and knew where the coffee machine was. Now the coffee machine is in their kitchen and they’re probably shoving their cat away from their keyboard whilst they reply to your emails. Naturally, they’ll feel more at home because, well, they are, but it makes it a bit tougher to make sure they have the required tools to do their job.
In current times that means a stable data connection and either a webcam or cellphone for video meetings. Accurate tutorials for company systems and simple, quick feedback tools are even more valuable than before now. It’s also important to make sure remote workers have access to the software (and licenses) required to do their job. These are all new concerns that each company needs to decide how they want to address going forward based on budgets and job roles.
Onboarding is a crucial yet often-neglected step in the hiring process. Creating a smart onboarding process that suits your company and its culture takes a lot of consideration and a bit of trial and error. It’s an investment that’ll pay off in the long run as it’s an investment in the people who will make your company thrive.