The Why and How of New Employee Onboarding
A good welcome is a good deal for everyone
Taking the time to plan how you’ll onboard new employees really pays off for you as well as your newest hire. Some of the benefits may seem obvious, but others might surprise even veteran managers:
- New employees who become productive much faster
- Lower turnover and training costs
- New employees who buy into your company mission and culture
- Builds your reputation as an Employer of Choice
- Investing management time to onboard now saves training time later
- Coworkers appreciate new colleagues integrating quickly
What’s on your new employee’s mind?
Even the most seasoned professional can find the first day at a new company confusing, even stressful. From the most basic question, "Where do I sit?" to the significant, "How will I be evaluated?" people new to a workplace want answers and reassurances. Here are just a few of the questions that might be on your newest staff member's mind:
Who’s who? There are lots of new faces to sort out, from the CEO to the mailroom assistant.
How do I get things done? How do I call a meeting? Arrange for travel? Where do I find office supplies? What’s my computer password?
Is it ok to… eat lunch at my desk occasionally? Make small talk at the start of a meeting? Get to know that talkative person in the corner cubicle? Disagree with my boss? Respond to an e-mail the next day?
Where is the...restroom? Lunch room? Benefits coordinator? Closest Chinese carryout? Emergency escape route?
How to lay down the welcome mat
The key to a top-notch new employee orientation program is good planning––done well ahead of time. Thinking ahead about how you want your new employees to connect with you and your staff lets you incorporate some proven onboarding practices into your program:
Successful onboarding starts before the new hire’s first day, with background given to appropriate staff and perhaps an introductory packet or website orientation provided to the employee.
A strong orientation program addresses a wide range of issues, introducing the employee not only to his or her new workplace and department, but also to the company as a whole.
A good orientation session is interesting and varied. Make your welcome more than lectures and a stack of forms to complete.
The best onboard programs are ongoing, taking into account that the first 90 days are often critical to employee retention. And, they solicit feedback from all participants.
Quick Tips for the First Day
Want to make a great impression on your new project manager’s first day? Take these steps, and your new employee will feel like part of the team right away:
Have the workstation ready: desk, phone, computer, server access, office keys and supplies.
Plan for lunch: make sure the new person is included in at least one coworker’s lunch plans.
Assign a welcome mentor: select someone to guide the new employee through the first days, weeks, even months, offering guidance and answering questions.
Provide a meaningful first-day assignment: there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve made a contribution right away.
Don’t forget the basics: be sure to provide a fresh copy of the employee handbook, clear instructions with paperwork, an office tour with introductions, and an office floor plan that includes coworkers’ names.
Smile and say "hello." A warm greeting goes a long way in helping anxious new employees feel wanted.